Peas Pulao | Matar Pulao (Green Peas Pilaf)

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This easy peas pulao is a vegan and gluten-free dish that’s great to enjoy as a light meal or hearty side. Matar pulao features rice and tasty peas with onions and aromatic spices and can be prepared entirely in a pressure cooker or in a pan on a stovetop. I share three ways to make this delish matar pulao – stovetop pressure cooker method with stepwise photos, while the pan and Instant pot method with detailed instructions.

overhead shot of green peas pulao in a white shallow bowl with a brass spoon and cucumber slices placed at the left side on a white marble table

What is Peas Pulao

Also known as Matar Pulao (matar is the Hindi word for peas), this simple peas pulao is perfect for creating a comforting and healthy veggie side or main dish.

A pulao, known as pilaf, is typically made with rice and loaded with fresh or frozen vegetables. The shining stars in this peas pulao are definitely the green peas.

They are cooked with classic Indian spices and onions that add delicious notes, but without overpowering the earthy pea flavor.

The combination of basmati rice, caramelized onions, and lightly sweet peas create a rustic and hearty dish that you’re sure to love.

And not only is peas pulao vegetarian and vegan-friendly, it happens to be gluten-free as well. So you can really feel good about enjoying every savory, scrumptious bite.

While I like to keep my version very simple to let the peas shine through, it is easy to adapt the recipe to your liking. You can add chopped potatoes or carrots, or nearly any other veggies you prefer.

Plus, it can be made using your choice of methods, either in a pan on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker.

I learned this traditional peas pulao recipe from my mother-in-law. In the Hindi language, we call it ‘matar wale chawal‘. It is quite popular in Punjabi homes and is great to pair with classic Indian delights like raita, curries, and dals (lentils).

Or, serve it by itself for a simple yet totally satisfying lighter meal. Give it a try and I’m sure your family will enjoy it as much as we do!

close up photo of peas pulao in a white shallow bowl with a brass spoon in the pulao
Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Peas Pulao

Preparation and Sautéing Onions

1. First, prepare the basmati rice: Rinse 1 heaping cup of basmati rice under cool water until the water runs clear. Then soak the rice for 20 to 30 minutes, drain, and set aside. This process is essential for making sure each grain will properly cook to create the fluffiest, most tender rice dish.

soaked basmati rice

2. Next, heat 3 tablespoons of oil or ghee in a 2-litre pressure cooker. Add the following spices:

  • 1-inch stick of cinnamon
  • 1 medium-sized tej patta
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 2 to 3 full cloves
  • 1 black cardamom pod (optional)
  • 1 to 2 thin strands of mace (optional)
  • 1 or 2 green cardamom pods

On a low to medium-low heat fry the spices for some seconds, until they release their aroma and become fragrant. Be careful not to burn the spices while frying.

whole spices for peas pulao

3. Then to the pressure cooker add a ½ cup of thinly sliced red onions.

TIP: Yellow and white onions also work well in this pulao.

sliced onions in the pressure cooker

4. Mix and sauté until the onions are lightly caramelized or perfectly caramelized. But again, be sure to not burn the onions as this will create a bitter taste in the matar pulao.

sauteing onions for matar pulao

5. Now add ¾ cup of fresh or frozen green peas.

adding green peas

6. Mix well and sauté the peas and onions for another minute.

sauteing matar for matar pulao

7. Add the drained basmati rice, and stir gently. You don’t want to break the rice grains.

adding rice

8. Sauté and stir for a minute so that each grain of rice is coated in the oil (or butter or ghee).

sautéing peas pulao mixture

9. Then add 1¾ cups of water to the cooker.

adding water

10. Season generously with salt. Mix well and check the taste to make sure that the water is slightly salty.

adding salt

Pressure Cooking Peas Pulao

11. Cover and pressure cook for 2 whistles on medium to high heat, or for 6 to 7 minutes. If you like your rice more on the al dente side then only pressure cook for 1 whistle.

cooked peas pulao

12. Allow the pressure cooker to settle on its own for several minutes before you do a manual pressure release. Then open the lid. Use a fork to gently fluff the rice before serving warm. Garnish with some coriander (cilantro) sprigs or mint leaves.

overhead shot of green peas pulao in a white shallow bowl with cucumber slices placed at the right side on a white marble table with a raita in white bowl at the top

Serving Suggestions

Enjoy peas pulao on their own as a side or main dish, or serve with nearly any condiments or sides. The peas and rice pair perfectly with creamy and cool yogurt sauces and dips, like Onion Tomato Raita, Cucumber Raita, or Boondi Raita.

Matar pulao also goes well with fresh Curd (Yogurt) as such and this Kadhi Pakora, sliced onion rings, Indian onion-tomato salad (Kachumber), and/or mango or lemon pickle. You can even serve with a side of lemon wedges.

For an even heartier meal, peas pulao can be served with fried or roasted or Masala Papad, a simple Gujarati Kadhi, and yummy Pakora.

Storage

I would not recommend storing peas pulao or any pulao. The rice grains become quite dry and the taste is not that great when stored for a day.

If at all, you have any leftovers, then store them in a covered container in your refrigerator for only about a day. Do not freeze.

Prior to serving, steam the leftovers in a pan or Instant Pot. Alternatively, you can even sauté in a small skillet or frying pan sprinkling some water so that the rice grains do not dry out much.

Cooking matar pulao in a pan

Follow these 3 simple steps for making matar pulao in a pot or pan on the stovetop:

  1. First, prepare the rice per the original recipe instructions. Meanwhile, fry the spices and sliced onions in a deep skillet or pot with hot oil or ghee, or butter. Then add the fresh or frozen green peas and drained rice, along with 2 to 2¼ cups of water (depending on the quality of rice).
  2. Cover the pot tightly with a lid, and cook until all of the water has been absorbed and the rice grains are tender and fluffy – about 20 to 25 minutes. You should see little steam holes once the rice is cooked. Be sure to carefully watch the rice while cooking. If all the water gets absorbed too quickly the rice will be undercooked, so add a tablespoon or so of water if necessary.
  3. Once done, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork before serving warm.

Instant Pot Method

Similar to cooking in a stovetop pressure cooker, this peas pulao is easy to make using an Instant Pot.

The preparation is pretty much the same: In a 6 quart IP, use the sauté function to fry the spices and onions. Then add the peas, soaked and drained rice, 1½ cups of water and salt, and stir.

Switch to the manual setting and pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. Wait for 10 minutes after the pressure cooking is finished (and the machine has beeped) before doing a quick pressure release. Do not exceed 10 minutes for the natural pressure release, otherwise your rice will be overcooked and become mushy.

Tips

Expert Tips

Ingredient Notes and Swaps

  • Type of rice: Aged basmati rice will give your pulao the best taste and texture. If you do not have basmati rice, include any non-sticky variety of long-grained or medium-grained rice.
  • Whole spices: Try to add all the whole spices mentioned in the matar pulao recipe. However, if not readily available you can feel free to leave out the black cardamom and mace. The dish won’t have quite the same smoky and earthy flavor but will still be quite delicious!
  • Herbs: Including herbs like coriander leaves (cilantro) or mint or equal combinations of both, gives a good herby taste and flavor. Add about 3 tablespoons of either or 2 tablespoons each of both chopped coriander and mint leaves. For dried mint, add about 1 teaspoon of in your matar pulao. 

Recipe Notes

  • Color: The color of matar pulao here is slightly brown due to the caramelization created when frying the onions. I strongly recommend caramelizing the onions as it gives lovely sweet undertones to the dish. But, if you’d like a white-colored pulao, then instead of caramelizing you can sauté the onions until translucent. You can also add a few drops of lemon juice which will help maintain the rice’s white color.
  • Rice to water proportion: While cooking in a stove-top pressure cooker, 1½ to 1¾ cups of water works perfectly for every 1 cup of basmati rice. But depending on the quality of rice you can add less or more water – from 1½ cups to 2 cups.
  • Spiciness: This matar pulao is not spicy. To make a spicy peas pulao, you can add some green chilies and 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste.

FAQs

Which is the best rice for pulao?

Usually in India, we make pulao with basmati rice. Do use aged basmati rice for the best texture. Sella basmati rice, which is parboiled basmati rice, also gives great results.

If using sella basmati rice, soak for 1 hour prior to cooking. I also suggest cooking parboiled basmati rice in a pan and not in a pressure cooker, and including 2 to 2¼ cups of water. But feel free to use any other variety of non-sticky rice for making this matar pulao.

How do you use dried peas to make peas pulao?

If you have dried peas, soak ¼ cup of these overnight in water. Later drain the water and rinse them a couple of times.

Pressure cook the soaked peas in 1½ to 2 cups of water in a stove-top pressure cooker for 18 to 20 minutes or in your Instant pot for 15 to 20 minutes. The peas should be softened but not mushy or pasty.

Drain and then use the cooked dried peas replacing fresh green peas as listed in the recipe.

What is matar rice?

Matar rice is another name for matar pulao. It is basically the same dish of peas pulao having a different name. By now you know ‘matar’ means ‘peas’ and thus the name matar rice.

More Pulao Recipes For You!

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overhead shot of green peas pulao in a white shallow bowl with a brass spoon and cucumber slices placed at the left side on a white marble table

Peas Pulao | Matar Pulao

4.96 from 24 votes
Peas pulao also known as matar pulao is a tasty rice and green peas dish made with caramelized onions and aromatic spices. It can be prepared entirely in a stove-top pressure cooker or in a pan or in the Instant pot. I share all three ways to make this delish peas pulao.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins

Cuisine Indian, Punjabi
Course: Main Course
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Easy

Servings 3
Units

Ingredients

Main ingredients

  • 1 cup basmati rice (heaped), 200 grams
  • ¾ cup green peas (matar) – preferably fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup thinly sliced onions
  • 3 tablespoons oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1.75 cups water for stove-top pressure cooking
  • salt as required

Whole spices

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 black cardamom – optional
  • 1 or 2 green cardamom
  • 2 to 3 cloves
  • 1 or 2 mace strands – thin strands, optional
  • 1 medium-sized tej patta (Indian bay leaf)

Instructions

Preparation

  • Wash the basmati rice until the water runs clear of the starch.
  • Soak rice for 30 minutes. 
  • Drain all the water and set aside.

Making peas pulao

  • Heat oil or ghee in a 2-litre pressure cooker.
  • Add the cumin seeds along with all the whole spices. Fry for some seconds on low heat, until the spices splutter, release their aroma and become fragrant, taking care not to burn them
  • Then add the sliced onions. Stir and sauté until the onions are light golden or caramelized. Do not burn the onions as this will lead to a bitter taste in your matar pulao.
  • Add the green peas and saute for a minute.
  • Then add the drained rice and mix gently.
  • Sauté for a minute seeing that the fat (oil or ghee) coats the rice grains. Add water and salt as required. Mix well. Check the taste of water and it should be slightly salty.
  • Cover and pressure cook for 2 whistles or 6 to 7 minutes on a medium-high to high heat. Let the pressure settle down on its own and then open the lid of the cooker. If you like your rice more on the al dente side then only pressure cook for 1 whistle.
  • Gently fluff rice and serve peas pulao hot or warm.

Serving suggestions

  • Enjoy peas pulao on their own as a side or main dish, or serve with nearly any condiments or sides. The peas and rice pair perfectly with creamy and cool yogurt sauces and dips, like onion tomato raita, cucumber raita or boondi raita.
  • Matar pulao also goes well with fresh Curd (Yogurt) as such and a Kadhi Pakora, sliced onion rings, Indian onion-tomato salad (Kachumber), and/or mango or lemon pickle. You can even serve with a side of lemon wedges.
  • For an even heartier meal, peas pulao can be served with fried or roasted or masala papad, a simple Gujarati Kadhi, or Pakora.

Video

Notes

Cooking peas pulao in a pan

  • Follow the recipe directions, until you add water and salt. You will have to add 2 to 2.25 cups of water. Cover the pan or pot tightly with a lid and simmer until all of the water is absorbed and the rice grains are cooked through.
  • Do keep a check on the rice when they are cooking. If the water has been all absorbed and rice grains have not yet cooked completely, add a few tablespoons of water. Cover and cook rice for a few minutes.

Instant Pot Method

  • In the steel insert pot of a 6 quart IP, fry the whole spices and sauté onions until they caramelize. Add the green peas, rice, 1.5 cups of water, and salt.
  • Pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. Wait for 10 minutes after the pressure cooking is completed and the beep sound is heard. Release any extra pressure after 10 minutes.
  • Keep a note of the 10 minutes time and do not allow to exceed it. The rice grains may get overdone and become mushy. 

Ingredient Notes

  • Type of rice: Aged basmati rice will give your pulao the best taste and texture. If you do not have basmati rice, include any non-sticky variety of long-grained or medium-grained rice.
  • Whole spices: Try to add all the whole spices mentioned in the recipe. If not readily available you can feel free to leave out the black cardamom and mace. The dish won’t have quite the same smoky and earthy flavor but will still be quite delicious.
  • Herbs: Including herbs like coriander leaves (cilantro) or mint or equal combinations of both, also gives a good herby taste and flavor. Add about 3 tablespoons of either or 2 tablespoons each of both chopped coriander and mint leaves. For dried mint, add about 1 teaspoon of it. 

Cooking Notes

  • Rice to water proportion: While cooking in a pressure cooker, 1½ to 1¾ cups of water works perfectly for every 1 cup of basmati rice. But depending on the quality of rice you can add less or more water – from 1½ cups to 2 cups.
  • Spiciness: This recipe is not spicy. To make a spicy matar pulao, you can add some green chilies and 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste.
  • Color: The color of matar pulao here is slightly brown due to the caramelization created when frying the onions. I strongly recommend caramelizing the onions as it gives lovely sweet undertones to the dish. But, if you’d like a white-colored pulao, then instead of caramelizing you can sauté the onions until translucent. You can also add a few drops of lemon juice which will help maintain the rice’s white color.

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Peas Pulao | Matar Pulao
Amount Per Serving
Calories 364 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 403mg18%
Potassium 233mg7%
Carbohydrates 60g20%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 277IU6%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 2mg10%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 17mg21%
Vitamin E 4mg27%
Vitamin K 9µg9%
Calcium 50mg5%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 34µg9%
Iron 2mg11%
Magnesium 42mg11%
Phosphorus 121mg12%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This peas pulao post from the archives (August 2013) has been republished and updated on 22 January 2021.

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59 Comments

    1. Thanks Geetika for letting me know. Thanks for the rating too. Welcome.

  1. Hi Dassana
    This Pulao is just gorgeous! I did the one pot method as I do not have a pressure cooker, so thank you for including the second method of cooking in all your recipes by the way! Very thoughtful.

    1. Thank you so much. Glad that the second method is also helpful. It helps me to gauge if I am doing the right thing and it is being helpful to the readers. Welcome.

  2. Hi Dassana akka,
    I tried this recipe and it turned out really good. Love the way u have presented the instructions.. i also had carrot raita (your recipe )as side dish to go with it.. thank u..
    Harini5 stars

    1. thanks a lot for this lovely review and the rating too for both peas pulao and carrot raita recipe. glad to know. happy cooking.

  3. Going to prepare this one pot recipe today… as there’s nothing else but frozen peas at home. I know it will turn out good… I learnt my culinary skills from your blog. thanks for making me so very interested in cooking.

    1. thank you anshu for the faith and trust. really felt nice to read your comment. wish you all the best. welcome and happy cooking.

  4. thank you for this wonderful recipe, my husband loves it and even his friends in office are a big fan of this recipe and often ask me to make it when they come home.5 stars

    1. thanks a lot sree for this lovely review and feedback on peas pulao. glad to know. happy cooking.

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