Kashmiri Pulao

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My recipe for Kashmiri Pulao is packed with toasted nuts and warming spices for an aromatic rice dish that is mild and faintly sweet in taste. Whether you serve this gluten-free and vegetarian dish as a side or light lunch, you’re sure to love it.

Kashmiri pulao in a brown bowl garnished with fried nuts and onions and a few fresh mint leaves next to a bowl of tomato raita on a beige table cloth

What is Kashmiri Pulao?

Kashmiri pulao is a delicious variant of rice pulao from Kashmiri cuisine made with nuts, dried fruits, saffron and fresh fruits. Generally, a pulao is rice that is flavored with various spices, then bulked up with the addition of vegetables, nuts or even meats.

Mostly pulao variations are usually made with long-grained and fragrant basmati rice. The grains are cooked to perfection without any sticking so that each individual piece of rice keeps its shape.

While some recipes call for making pulao with stock, broth or even coconut milk, this simple recipe for Kashmiri pulao requires only water and dried spices to flavor the grains.

The northernmost Indian state of Kashmir rests high in the Himalayas and is often called “paradise on earth.” It is easily considered one of the most scenic and beautiful places in the world.

Primarily an agricultural state, Kashmir grows rice as the staple crop. As with this Kashmiri pulao recipe, much of the cuisine is based around this life-giving grain. Kashmir is also India’s leading exporter of saffron, the prized spice that is responsible for this pulao’s color and complex flavor.

The valley of Kashmir is also quite productive, with widespread orchards that grow fruits like apples, pears and peaches, and nuts like walnuts and cashews. These are some of the top exports of the region.

While Kashmir is incredibly beautiful, the climate is quite cold for much of the year. The addition of dried fruits and nuts adds sweetness and warmth that is ideal for the chilly landscape. If you are interested in Kashmiri cuisine, I recommend you also try Kashmiri Dum Aloo, Kahwa Tea and Kashmiri Biryani.

Why This Recipe Works

Kashmiri pulao is one of the easiest pulao recipes to make and, unlike other pulaos, this one is on the sweeter side as a result of being garnished with both dry fruits and fresh fruits. It is also entirely customizable depending on your preferences.

The fresh fruits that are often added to Kashmiri pulao are pineapple, apple and pomegranate. Dry fruits and nuts that are often added include almonds, raisins, pistachios, walnuts and cashews.

Most variations of Kashmiri pulao will use a mix of fresh and dry fruits as well as nuts. I should note that when I made this version of Kashmiri pulao, I did not add any fresh fruit. Since pulao is often used as a side dish, it is important to keep in mind what you plan on serving it with.

I personally like to serve this pulao with lauki yakhni (fried bottle gourd slices in yogurt sauce) along with onion tomato raita. In my home, nobody really enjoys the combination of fruits with curry or spiced raita, so I omitted it.

That said, if you are eating this as is or pairing this with sweet raita like pomegranate raita, mango raita or pineapple raita, I definitely recommend adding the additional fruit to your Kashmiri pulao.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Kashmiri pulao

Prep and Cook Rice

1. Measure all the ingredients for the pulao and keep ready. Rinse 1 cup basmati rice thoroughly in water until the water is clear of starch. Soak the rice grains in enough water for 20 to 30 minutes.

I recommend to use aged basmati rice for the best fluffy, non-sticky texture.

Ingredients for Kashmiri pulao recipe measured out in white bowls on a black table.

2. On a low or medium flame, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons oil or ghee in a deep pan.

ghee in a sauté pan

3. Add 1 inch cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (shahi jeera), 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf), 3 cloves, 2 to 3 green cardamoms and 1 to 2 black cardamoms.

cinnamon stick, caraway seeds, bay leaf, cloves and cardamom pods added to ghee for tadka

4. Fry the spices for some seconds or till they crackle and the oil becomes fragrant.

tempering spices in hot oil

5. Now lower the heat or switch off the heat. Add the ½ teaspoon dry ginger powder (saunth) and 1 teaspoon fennel powder.

ginger and fennel powders added to spiced ghee for pulao

6. Stir well.

tempering spices for Kashmiri pulao recipe

7. Add 1 cup of soaked and drained basmati rice.

soaked and drained basmati rice added to pan with tempered spices

8. Gently mix and sauté for a minute on low heat.

Kashmiri pulao being made

9. Add 2 pinches of crushed saffron (kesar).

saffron threads added to rice and spiced oil mix

10. Gently mix again.

sautéing rice and spices for Kashmiri pulao recipe

11. Pour in 2 cups of water.

water being poured into pan with rice and spices

12. Add salt as required.

teaspoon of salt above pan with rice, spices and water

13. Mix and stir well. Check the taste of the water and it should taste a bit salty like sea water.

Kashmiri pulao before the rice has absorbed all the water

14. Cover the pan tightly and cook rice on a medium-low heat. When the rice is cooking, prepare the garnish as shown in the step below.

In between do check the rice a couple of times. If you see that the water has evaporated and the rice grains are undercooked, add a splash of hot water. Cover the pan and continue to cook.

lid placed on pan to cook rice for pulao

Make Garnish

15. Heat 2 tablespoon ghee or oil in a frying pan.

ghee melted in bottom of wok

16. Add one sliced onion or ½ cup sliced onion.

sliced onion added to wok

17. Add a pinch of salt to the onions to encourage sweating.

salt added to onion

18. Saute the onions till they are golden or caramelized and crisp.

onions are crisp and deep golden brown in wok

19. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper towels.

draining fried onions on paper towels

20. There will be some oil or ghee left in the pan. In the same oil or ghee, first fry 10 to 12 almonds till they become crunchy and crisp.

whole almonds added to pan with oil to fry

21. Remove and place fried almonds on kitchen paper towels.

fried almonds on paper towel to drain

22. Next fry 10 to 12 cashews till they are crisp and lightly browned.

cashews added to pan to fry in oil

23. Remove fried cashews. Place them on kitchen paper towels.

fried cashews draining on paper towels

24. Also fry 10 to 12 walnuts till they are crisp and lightly browned.

walnuts added to pan with oil to fry

25. Remove fried walnuts. Place them on kitchen paper towels.

fried walnuts placed on paper towel with other garnishes for kashmiri pulao

26. Continue cooking the rice till all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, softened and cooked well.

Kashmiri pulao in pot after rice has absorbed all the water

27. When done, fluff the rice.

fluffing completed Kashmiri pulao recipe with a fork

28. While serving the Kashmiri pulao, garnish with the fried onions, nuts and any optional fruits that you prefer. You can add fresh fruits like apple, pineapple and pomegranate arils.

Kashmiri pulao topped with fried onions and nuts in the cooking pan

Serve Kashmiri pulao hot with raita or salad. It makes for a filling and satisfying meal. You can also serve it with a simple dal tadka or any paneer dish or vegetable curry.

overhead shot of Kashmiri pulao in a brown bowl garnished with fried nuts and onions and a few fresh mint leaves next to a bowl of tomato raita on a beige table cloth

FAQs

Can I make pulao ahead of time?

While I believe that this Kashmiri pulao is *best* when eaten fresh from the frying pan, the leftovers will keep well in an airtight container for up to 1 day.

What fruits and nuts should I add to my Kashmiri Pulao?

I love the combination of almonds, cashews and walnuts in my Kashmiri pulao. These nuts are grown in the region, and the flavors are delicious. If you like, you can also add pistachios to the list of nuts you add.

If you opt to add fruit to your pulao, you can opt for either fresh fruits like pineapple, pomegranate or apple, or dried fruits like raisins. Depending on what you are serving with the pulao, you may also decide to omit the fruit entirely.

More Pulao Varieties!

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Kashmiri pulao in a brown bowl garnished with fried nuts and onions and a few fresh mint leaves next to a bowl of tomato raita on a beige table cloth

Kashmiri Pulao

4.91 from 21 votes
Kashmiri pulao is a delicious variant of rice pulao from Kashmiri cuisine made with nuts, dried fruits, saffron and fresh fruits. It is aromatic, mild and faintly sweet in taste.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 45 mins

Cuisine Indian, Kashmiri
Course: Main Course
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Servings 3
Units

Ingredients

For kashmiri pulao

  • 1 cup basmati rice soaked in water for 20 to 30 minutes
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (shahi jeera)
  • 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 to 3 green cardamoms
  • 1 to 2 black cardamoms
  • ½ teaspoon dry ginger powder (ground ginger)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel powder (ground fennel)
  • 2 pinches saffron strands
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Ghee or any neutral tasting oil
  • 2 to 2.25 cups water or as required
  • salt as required

For making garnish

  • ½ cup thinly sliced onions or 1 medium-sized
  • 10 to 12 cashews
  • 10 to 12 almonds
  • 10 to 12 walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons Ghee or any neutral tasting oil

Instructions

Making kashmiri pulao

  • Rinse basmati rice a few times in water until the water is clear of starch. Soak the rice in enough water in a bowl for 20 to 30 minutes. Later drain all the water and set the soaked rice aside.
  • On a low or medium heat, heat oil or ghee in a deep pan or pot.
  • Add cinnamon stick, caraway seeds, tej patta, cloves, green cardamoms and black cardamoms.
  • Fry the spices for some seconds until they crackle and the oil becomes fragrant.
  • Now lower the heat or switch the heat off. Add the dry ginger powder and fennel powder. Mix and stir well taking care that you do not burn these ground spices.
  • Add the soaked basmati rice. Mix gently and sauté for a minute.
  • Add whole or crushed saffron strands. Mix and sauté.
  • Pour water and add salt as required. Stir and mix again. Check the taste of the water and it should taste a bit salty. Cover the pan tightly and simmer on medium-low heat until the rice grains are tender. When the rice is cooking, prepare the garnish.

Making garnish

  • Heat 2 tablespoons ghee or oil in a frying pan. Add the sliced onions.
  • Also add a pinch of salt and sauté the onions till they are golden or caramelized and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper tissues. Stir often when sautéing the onions.
  • Some ghee or oil will be left in the pan. To the same ghee or oil, add the almonds. Fry them until they become crisp and crunchy. Remove and place fried almonds on kitchen paper tissues
  • Now fry the cashews till they are crisp and lightly browned. Place them on kitchen paper tissues
  • Also fry the walnuts till they are crisp and lightly browned. Remove fried walnuts. Place on kitchen paper tissues
  • Cook the rice until softened, fluffy, tender and all the water has been absorbed. When done, fluff the rice with a fork.
  • While serving top Kashmiri pulao with the caramelized onions and the fried nuts garnish. You can also garnish with fresh fruits cubes of apple, pineapple or pomegranate arils.
  • Kashmiri pulao can be enjoyed as is or with a side of any raita or paneer curry or vegetable curry. You can also serve it with dal-tadka.

Notes

  • For best texture and taste use aged basmati rice. 
  • Add your preferred nuts or the ones that are easily available to you. Pine nuts and pistachios are a few more options. Dried fruits like raisins can also make a good garnish. 
  • For fresh fruits, use firm fruits like apples or pineapple. They taste good in this pulao. You can also add pomegranate arils. 
  • The recipe can be scaled easily to make a small or a big batch. 
  • I suggest to serve Kashmiri pulao as soon as it is made. If you have any leftovers, refrigerate for one day only. While reheating, sauté until warm or lightly hot in a skillet, frying pan or steam in a pan or Instant Pot.

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Kashmiri Pulao
Amount Per Serving
Calories 493 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 44mg15%
Sodium 24mg1%
Potassium 267mg8%
Carbohydrates 59g20%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 23IU0%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 2µg2%
Calcium 79mg8%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 20µg5%
Iron 2mg11%
Magnesium 69mg17%
Phosphorus 162mg16%
Zinc 2mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Kashmiri Pulao recipe from blog archives (first published in May 2013) has been republished and updated on 6 June 2021.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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43 Comments

    1. Yes, you can use ginger paste. ½ to 1 teaspoon ginger paste will work well in the recipe.

  1. fennel powder is just powdering fennel? or we need to roast, dry roast it and make powder?

    1. i usually powder fennel directly in mixer and use it as required. but for the amount mentioned in the recipe, you can lightly roast and then crush in a mortar-pestle.

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