pulao recipe with step by step photos. veg pulao is comfort food as well as satisfying. pair this mildly flavored aromatic vegetable pulao with a raita, pickle and roasted papad and you don’t need anything else. pulao is also called as pilaf and pulav.
veg pulao is a one-pot dish made with rice and vegetables. some spices and herbs are also added to give pulao more flavor and taste.
i make veg pulao when i want to cook something quick and easy. this is my mom’s vegetable pulav recipe and one of our favorite rice recipes, the other being veg biryani.
i also tried some other variations of making vegetable pulav but it did not suit our taste buds. there is no addition of any pulao or biryani masala in this recipe. just the whole garam masala spices are added.
what i like about making veg pulao is that it gets made quickly. if you have a food processor for chopping the veggies, then its more quick. usually i like the texture of the rice to be a little soft in pulao than being al dente or the way they are served in restaurants.
what you look in a pulao recipe is that the rice grains have to be cooked perfectly without sticking or becoming mushy. so a pulao should have separate non sticky rice grains after being cooked. i have compiled below some tips and suggestions to make a really good vegetable pulao with separate non-sticky grains of rice.
tips to make pulao
1. type and quality of rice
usually basmati rice is used to make it. the basmati rice has to be fragrant and long-grained to get good results. aged basmati rice gives very excellent results in a pulao or biryani recipe. you can even use other types of long-grained rice and short-grained rice varieties like seeraga samba or sona masuri or ambe mohar. in some parts of tamil nadu and kerala, seeraga samba rice is widely used to make pulao and biryani. even parboiled basmati rice (sela basmati) can be used to make both pulao and biryani.
2. sticky rice grains vs separate rice grains
to get separate rice grains in a pulao, firstly the quality of rice should be good and it should be aged. secondly do not add more water or extra water. thirdly after adding rice, sauté them for 2 minutes on a low to medium flame, so that the rice grains are coated with fat (oil or ghee). the rice grains have to be separate & yet well cooked in a pulao or biryani. addition of lemon juice also helps in making the rice grains fluffier.
its always better to soak rice for 20 to 30 minutes. soaking rice grains gives a better texture when they are cooked. if you do not have time to soak rice grains, then just rinse and then add them. but here you will need to add some more water. presoaked rice grains require less water for cooking as compared to rice grains which are not soaked.
3. rice to water ratio
the rice to water ratio is generally 1:2 for rice and water respectively for most rice varieties. however, this ratio varies with a particular type of rice used or the method of cooking rice.
- example – organic basmati rice requires more water while cooking. parboiled basmati rice will need more water as compared to regular basmati rice. so when cooking pulao, use rice which you have cooked earlier, so that you know how much water to add.
- example – when cooking pulao in a pressure cooker, generally less water is added. the steam generated in the pressure cooker, helps in cooking the rice grains. but here the amount of water to be added depends upon the size of the cooker. in larger cookers more water has to be added.
methods of cooking pulao or pulav
pulao can be cooked in five ways –
- in a pan or pot (as shown in this recipe post)
- in a pressure cooker
- in an instant pot
- in an electric cooker
- in a microwave
you can use any method for cooking pulao. but just remember to add correct amount of water.
example: in an electric cooker, you will need to add more water. in a pressure cooker you need to add less water, then when making pulao in a pan. in the notes section of recipe card, i have mentioned the amount of water to be added when cooking veg pulao in a 3 litre pressure cooker.
how to make veg pulav in a pressure cooker
one of the easiest and quickest method to make vegetable pulao is in a pressure cooker. it saves time as well as fuel. while making veg pulao in a pressure cooker is easy, but it can be tricky. the size of the pressure cooker, the quality of rice and amount of water added can yield a very good pulao or sticky, mushy or lumpy pulao or even a burnt undercooked pulao. so make pulao in a pressure cooker with a particular brand of aged basmati rice which stays separate even after pressure cooking. keep in mind the size of the cooker. larger the cooker, more water needs to be added and vice versa.
variations in making pulav recipe
1. various types of vegetables can be added in a pulao. you can add these vegetables alone or in a combination of two to three or more. it depends on what you and your family likes and prefer. usually a vegetable pulav is made with veggies like green peas, cauliflower, french beans, carrots, potatoes. apart from these vegetables, you can also add broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, capsicum (bell peppers), cabbage, beetroot, tomatoes. the flavors and taste of pulao will vary with the type of vegetables added in it.
2. there are many pulao varieties made in the indian cuisine with a mix of various masala or spice pastes added.
- some variations add curd.
- coconut milk is also added in some recipes. e.g. coconut milk pulao or brinji rice.
- i also make red pulao and green pulao on occasions. in green pulao, the green masala paste made from coriander leaves, mint leaves, green chilies, ginger and garlic is added. some coconut can also be added in this green masala. green pulao is similar to chutney pulao. red pulao has tomatoes as one of the major flavor and taste contributor.
- instead of whole spices, you can even add pulao-biryani masala.
- some pulav recipes are cooked in vegetable stock instead of water. pulao made in a vegetable stock has a different taste and color.
- you can always alter the amount of spices and herbs as per your taste. if you like spicy veg pulao then you can add more green chillies and include some spice powders like garam masala powder or red chilli powder. you can also reduce the whole garam masala in the recipe, if you want a less aromatic and mild veg pulav.
3. a vegetable pulao can be made more delicious and restaurant-style by incorporating the following methods:
- add some crisp golden fried onions (birista) as a garnish on the vegetable pulao. fried onions not only taste good but also give a nice crunch in the soft textured pulao.
- some fried dry fruits like cashews and raisins can also be added.
- you can even add some saffron strands while cooking pulao. this will impart the lovely saffron aroma and flavor in the pulao. even rose water or kewra water can be added.
how to make veg pulao
1. firstly rinse the rice in water runs clear of starch. then soak the rice in enough water for 30 minutes. then strain the rice and keep aside.
2. when the rice is soaking, prep the veggies and keep the whole spices aside. picture of the whole spices added in the pulao, except cumin. if you do not have any particular spice, then you can skip it.
3. heat ghee or oil in a deep thick bottomed pot or pan. add all whole spices and fry till they become fragrant.
4. add the thinly sliced onions. saute the onions on a low flame till golden and stirring them often for uniform browning.
5. once the onions become golden, then add crushed ginger+garlic+green chili paste. stir and saute till the raw aroma of the ginger & garlic goes away.
6. add chopped tomatoes. saute for 2 to 3 minutes on a low flame.
7. now add all the chopped veggies and saute again for 2 to 3 minutes on a low flame. please note that at this step you can even add 2 to 3 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves and 2 tablespoons of mint leaves.
8. add the rice.
9. saute rice gently for 2 minutes on a low to medium-low flame, so that the rice gets well coated with the oil.
10. pour water.
11. stir well.
12. add 6 to 7 drops of lime juice or lemon juice.
13. season with salt. to find the amount of salt added, check the taste of the water. you should feel some saltiness in the water. this means the amount of salt added is right. if the water does not feel salty, then you need to add some more salt.
cooking veg pulao
14. stir and cover the pot or pan with its lid tightly.
15. cover and cook the rice till all the water is absorbed. cook on a low to medium flame. usually in the beginning, i cook on a medium flame and then half way lower the flame. check in between a few times to check if the water is enough. depending on the quality of rice, you may need to add less or more water. with a fork too, you can gently stir the rice without breaking the rice grains.
16. once the rice grains are cooked, fluff and let the rice stand for 5 minutes covered with the lid.
17. serve pulao garnished with coriander leaves or mint leaves or fried onions and cashews. as a side accompaniment with pulao, you can serve onion tomato raita or boondi raita or cucumber raita or just plain yogurt along with roasted papad and mango pickle or lemon pickle.
serving vegetable pulav
it is served either with curd (yogurt) or raita or a curry or korma. but if you do not have time or ingredients to make korma or raita, then just serve with some pickle and papad (roasted or fried). you can even serve it with plain curd. some sliced onions and lime or lemon also accompany a pulao well. even a simple kadhi can be served with it.
- 1.5 cups long grained or basmati rice soaked for 30 minutes
- ¼ cup heaped EACH of chopped potatoes, cauliflower/broccoli, french beans, green peas (fresh or frozen) and carrots - OR 1 to 1.5 cups chopped vegetables of your choice
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium size tomato, chopped
- ½ inch ginger + 2 to 3 medium garlic cloves + 1 green chili - crushed to a paste in a mortar-pestle
- 6 to 7 drops of lime juice
- 2.5 to 3 cups water or veg stock * check notes below for details. i added 3 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons ghee or 2.5 tablespoon oil
- salt as required
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds OR ¾ teaspoon caraway seeds (shah jeera)
- 4 to 5 whole black pepper
- 1 tej patta (indian bay leaf or tamalpatra)
- 2 to 3 cloves
- 2 to 3 green cardamoms
- 1 black cardamom
- 2 single strands of mace - optional
- 1 small star anise (chakriphool) - optional
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 1 small piece of stone flower (dagad phool or patthar ke phool) - optional
- rinse rinse till the water runs clear of starch and become transparent while rinsing.
- soak the rice in enough water for 30 minutes. drain all the water and keep the soaked rice aside.
- in a deep thick bottomed pot or pan, heat ghee or oil and fry all the whole spices mentioned above, till the oil becomes fragrant
- add the onions and saute them till golden. saute the onions on a low flame and stir often for uniform browning.
- add the ginger-garlic-green chili paste and saute for 10 to 12 seconds.
- add the tomatoes and saute for 2 to 3 minutes on a low to medium-low flame.
- add all the veggies and saute again for 2 to 3 minutes on a medium-low flame.
- add rice and saute gently for 2 minutes on a low or medium-low flame, so that the rice gets well coated with the oil.
- pour water and stir.
- sprinkle 6 to 7 drops of lime juice or lemon juice. season with salt and stir again.
cooking veg pulao
- cover tightly and let the rice cook on a low flame, till the water is absorbed and the rice is well cooked.
- check in between a few times to check if the water is enough. depending on the quality of rice, you may need to add less or more water. with a fork too, you can gently stir the rice without breaking the rice grains.
- once the rice grains are cooked, fluff and let the rice stand for 5 minutes.
- serve the veg pulao hot with some side salad, sliced onion & lemon wedges or raita. you can also garnish it with chopped coriander or mint leaves.
- if you are making veg pulao in a 3 litre pressure cooker, then add 2.5 to 2.75 cups water. for an al dente texture, 2.5 cups is fine and for a softer texture 2.75 cups water is fine. pressure cook rice on medium flame for 2 whistles. in case the rice grains are undercooked, then add ¼ cup water and pressure cook for 1 whistle more.