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Vegetable Pulao

Vegetable Pulao

This is a fragrant rice recipe with a medley of vegetable and spices. Rice plays an important role in the Indian cuisine. If you have frequented an Indian home or even an Indian restaurant, you would have noticed that there is at least one rice dish.

The light fluffy Basmati rice speckled with spices and sometimes vegetables, which lavishly dissipates the beautiful aroma as the smoke spirals up, can barely go unnoticed.

Vegetable Pulao with Basmati Rice

Basmati Rice is a variety of long grain rice grown in mainly in the Indian Subcontinent; it is  fragrant and delicate. The name means the fragrant  or the perfumed one in Sanskrit. Rice is an important part of life in South Asia. It is the cornerstone of their food and culture and is a staple in many states of India. In India the  Basmati rice is primarily grown in the northern regions.

Basmati Rice

Basmati rice is available in two varieties: white and brown. The main characteristic of the Basmati rice is the intense fragrance that fills the air when the rice is being cooked. The grains of Basmati rice are longer than most other types of rice and once cooked, and the grains are separate and free flowing like any long grain rice.

I have been making this pulao for many years now. We usually  have this as a side dish with the curries with sauces or with grilled meat. The little trick that infuses the rice with immense flavor had been learned while watching a friend’s mom cook. It is not just the whole spices, but the quick frying of the coriander and the pepper powder in the ghee that makes this dish so pleasantly aromatic.

Vegetable Pulao

This is not a fancy or an elaborate dish like the Biryani; it is  simple, and  a quick recipe. Adding a few vegetables and spices is a good way to jazz up the plain old steamed rice at certain times and during special meal times. If  I am serving a vegetable pulao as a main dish, I usually add a lot more vegetables to the rice. This is a lighter version and hence more appropriate as a side dish.

Vegetable Pulao

Vegetable Pulao

Ingredients: (serve 6-8 as a side)

  1. 2 cups white Basmati Rice
  2. 3 cups water
  3. 4 tablespoon ghee/melted butter
  4. 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  5. 4 cloves,gently crushed
  6. 6 green cardamom, gently crushed
  7. 1 big black cardamom, gently crushed
  8. 1 – 2″ stick cinnamon
  9. 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  10. 1 teaspoon red chili powder/cayenne/paprika
  11. a good big pinch of saffron
  12. freshly ground black pepper, about 6 turns
  13. salt to taste
  14. 2 carrots,chopped in to tiny cubes
  15. 1 small potato, peeled and chopped in to tiny cubes
  16. 1/2 cup chopped green beans
  17. 1/2 cup peas, shelled or frozen
  18. fresh cilantro/coriander to garnish
  19. lightly toasted almonds or cashews for garnish (optional)

Note: Use any combination of vegetables. Here I have mentioned the vegetables that I usually use- sometimes all of them mentioned, and sometimes whatever I have at home. Try using vegetables that stays firm after cooking and not anything like squash.

To keep the flavors of the spices prominent, avoid using vegetables, (like cauliflower, broccoli, etc ) with strong pungent aroma. It is the fragrance of the spices that should be predominant in this recipe, rather than that of the vegetables.


Wash the rice grains till the water runs clear. Soak the rice in cold water for about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Prepare the vegetables.

Gently crush the saffron strands and soak them in a tablespoon of hot water.

In a deep thick bottomed pan, add the ghee/melted butter and add the cinnamon, clove, green and black cardamom. When the spices start to sizzle and get fragrant, in a couple of minutes, add the cumin seeds. When the seeds sizzle,  add the coriander powder, red chili powder/cayenne/paprika, and freshly ground black pepper in the pan. Stir the spices around quickly for a few seconds. They will be fragrant as soon as they hit the oil. Make sure that they do not turn dark and burn.

Add the prepared vegetables to the pan and cook them at high heat for 2-4 minutes till all the water evaporate, while tossing them frequently. Next add the rice and cook while constantly tossing and stirring for about 3 minutes. All the water will have evaporated by this time and the rice and the vegetables should be coated with the spice mix and start looking dry.

Add the salt, the saffron and 3 cups of  warm water; stir everything together, and let it cook at medium to high heat for about 8 minutes or until all the water from the top has evaporated. All you should see is a moist layer of almost done rice and vegetables. Lower the heat to minimum and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Leave it on the stove top to cook for another 8-10 minutes.

Switch off the heat, uncover and fluff. The rice grains should be cooked, but the grains should be separate and not mushed up at all.

Keep it uncovered as the heat and the steam will over cook the rice. Cover the pan only when cooled.

The pulao tastes even better the next day or as it sits for a few hours. It heats easily in the microwave.

Vegetable Pulao

This dish could be served as a main dish with a side of salad and yogurt or as a side. I would want to mention here that this works better as a side dish; it is not overcrowded with vegetables, is light and pairs well with grilled meat and poultry like Sheekh Kabab, or Murgh Malai Tikka Kabab.

Vegetable Pulao

Sending my entry to WHB #273 hosted by Yasmeen of Health Nut.

Related Posts:

Jeera Rice – Cumin Flavored Basmati Rice

Lentil and Rice Pilaf

Spicy Tomato Mushroom Rice with Fresh Mint

Cumin Flavored Peanut and Tomato Rice

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49 comments to Vegetable Pulao

  • I can have Biriyani or Pulao anytime. Looks great! I love the rice pot.

  • What a flavorful mix of veg pulao! With all the aromatic spices that went into it, am sure must have been really wonderful. Like the Saffron you used in this, as I normally use it in Biryani. Love the pictures and the cute pot out there…

  • Ann

    Yum, this looks regal, and comparable to a biriyani almost, with all the spices. Must taste delectable. Veg pulao for me is a hurriedly thrown in veg into ghee and some jeera. I would love to try out this version.

  • Pretty, colorful, delicious and healthy!



  • Beautiful styling Soma. Your fdamily is lucky you cook them such wondeful food :) Thanks for the tip about frying the pepper and coriander. Will be sure to try it next time!

  • I love vegetable pulao and this look so good.

  • Yummmm oooooo..awesome clicks too!!

  • Lakshmi

    Im reading (and dreaming) about Pulao since morning. Now after seeing your pics, I cant resist but make it tonight. if only I have the same energy after work!

  • Beautiful clicks…my fav ..looks absolutely delicious:)

  • I’ve never had vegetable pulao. I will have to try this as I love rice dishes. Yum!

  • Hi new to your blog, very beautiful pics and pulao is looking so tempting

    already loving it and happy to follow you

  • Pulao looks so pretty and colorful..and the pics are AMAZING!

  • I love all kinds of fried or flavored rice dishes, having been raised with a lot of it in China. I’ve yet to try my hand at pulao but this simple and tasty recipe looks like just the thing to start with. Thanks for sharing your lovely recipe and photos, Soma!

  • Looks mouthwatering…love all the pictures..everything looks scrumptious.

  • Its funny you posted a rice recipe too today Soma! So did I :-)
    Hmm, looks like great minds think alike :D
    That is one of those recipe that you just don’t have to think about. Whenever I’m short on time and there has to be food on table real quick, a veg pulao is the number one thing that comes to mind. Serve it with a nice tangy raita and dinner’s well served!
    Whole crushed masala infuses so much flavor to the rice!

  • anh

    you had so many cute props. I want!

    Now this pulao is soo good. I’m a fan of pilaf/pulao/biryani. As in flavoured rice :) i need to practise making these more. For some reasons my rice didn’t have that separated long grain effect. I guess I might have stirred it too much. :)

  • Moumita Biswas

    This looks delicious . I must have tasted this sister . Make me so proud . You are carrying on our grandmother’s ( didas) legacy.

  • Looks yum and lovely …nice pics

  • u r right this will go perfect wit kebabs

  • god it looks tastyyyyyy !!!! wow lovely blog ! very well presented :)
    you can view and follow my blog if you wish … i will be really happy :D

  • Your pulao sounds so sophisticated Soma – :-) For me, i just throw in whatever I have – generally with the same vegetables that you mentioned, a few whole spices and no saffron. This is certainly I something I need to add next time. Pretty pictures and can I steal that pot of yours please? Just for one picture ;-)

  • Such lovely images. Rice is always a staple in my kitchen. Hope you are well.

  • lovely dish and nice photos, I make veg pulao often. you’re right, basmati rice is so fragrant especially when ages slightly.

  • Lovely recipe Soma – I make my own version but it’s random ingredients thrown together. So it’s wonderful to finally have a proper recipe to refer to!

  • Laurel

    I love really good rice, and this looks really good! We’re featuring side dishes this week at the M&T Spotlight and I’d love for you to submit this.

  • I know you said this was a side dish, but I think I could eat this on it’s own for a meal, maybe just increasing the amount of vegetables – looks wonderful!

  • I can’t live without rice – I can’t go more than a day without it. Your vegetarian pulao looks delicious.

  • wow, this is awesome.never tried pulao this way.. Looks mouthwatering ..

  • Another wonderful recipe Soma! I think I could eat this on its own too !:D

  • wow great ur presentation style..great one..

  • The rice pot photo is WONDERFUL! I love learning about the differences in a cuisine with which I am not that familiar.

  • Cham

    Pulao totally fits anyone bill. This one looks perfectly appetizing!

  • Ivy

    The vegetable pulao looks so colourful and I can imagine the aromas coming out of this dish.

  • This is a delicious pulao and your pictures are superb!

  • Lakshmi

    I made this pulao last week and it came out yummmm. No onions…just peas and carrots..turned out very flavorful. would have tasted great with any curry but we loved it as is! thanks for the recipe.

    Thank you Lakshmi for giving it a try:-)

  • Wow, it’s been so long since I made Pulao…After reading this, I have to head to the kitchen now to make me some…Guess, Pulao it is today!

  • I made this rice dish with brown rice, and with a bit of extra cooking time, it came out perfectly. Thanks for another great recipe. I made this with the Murgh Makhani, which was also fantastic.

  • Healthy…

    Vegetable Pulao | eCurry – The Recipe Blog…

  • Mamatha

    Hi..I tired it last evening for came out well..i added an onion and a table spoon of ginger and garlic paste too.. thanks for the recipe!!!

  • brambo2000

    Hi what a great recipe!

    Followed your instructions but my rice came out a light tan. My spices are all new. I did use brown mustard seed and shah jeera rather than the light colored regular ones. Did I do the right thing?

    Everything tastes great. Thinking about cutting the amount of spice in half to try to match photo.

  • soma

    Yes you have done everything right! The tan color is okay too. Sometimes when the spices cook a tad bit longer (no harm as long as they do not burn), that might change the color of the rice after it is done. As long as you liked the way it tastes… no rules here!! Thanks for givin it a try. :)

  • Awesome taste!!!! and da aroma …..
    enjoyed cooking it!! :)

  • Well presented pictures, I also prefer pulao over biryani may be because it is a simple and easy dish. Thanks for sharing my favourite recipe.

  • [...] Ingredient: Basmati RiceSoma(Texas USA) of eCurry ,Vegetable Pulao.Basmati Rice is a variety of long grain rice grown in mainly in the Indian Subcontinent; it is [...]

  • Aggy

    How many teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper need to be added?

    I used freshly ground (do mine in the grinding mill) – so I mentioned 6 turns. But it is entirely upto you how much you would want… a teaspoon would be too much I would think… however if all depends on how much flavor and spice you would like.

  • [...] Ingredient: Basmati RiceSoma(Texas USA) of eCurry ,Vegetable Pulao.Basmati Rice is a variety of long grain rice grown in mainly in the Indian Subcontinent; it is [...]

  • Roger

    A question regarding this recipe–where dd the water come from in this step?

    “Add the prepared vegetables to the pan and cook them at high heat for 2-4 minutes till all the water evaporate, while tossing them frequently. Next add the rice and cook while constantly tossing and stirring for about 3 minutes. All the water will have evaporated by this time and the rice and the vegetables should be coated with the spice mix and start looking dry.”

    I know the vegetables will be moist, but I wouldn’t expect to see water in the pan at this stage.

    Am I missing something?

    Fresh vegetables and the washed rice will release water as it cooks. I should have said liquid. More appropriate? They have to have the completely dried feel before you proceed. No extra water is added. Sorry for the confusion. Apologize.

  • [...] have barely adapted this recipe from Soma’s blog Soma suggests not to use veggies like broccoli or cauliflower so that the flavors of the spices [...]

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