This Yakhni Pulao is a delicious rice pilaf featuring fragrant basmati rice, flavorful vegetable stock, healthy mixed veggies, aromatic spices and herbs. While there are many versions to make this dish, my vegetarian recipe is fragrant, flavorful and tasty. One of our favorite rice dishes is Yakhni pulao after Biryani and Veg Pulao and I am sure it will be yours too.
About Yakhni Pulao
The urdu word “Yakhni” refers to a broth or stock. Pulao or pilaf is a one pot rice dish. The recipe gets its name Yakhni pulao as the rice is cooked in the yakhni a.k.a the stock or broth.
The stock is made first by cooking the meat (here we make the stock with veggies) together with fragrant spices. Later the rice is cooked until tender in this stock.
The recipe of this Yakhni pulao is from the Hyderabadi cuisine. Generally yakhni pulao is a non-vegetarian dish. But there are vegetarian and vegan versions of this dish as well like this recipe.
Making this subtly flavored dish requires a lot of care and attention similar to making a biryani. A slight error on your part can ruin this dish. The rice grains have to be separate and yet cooked. The veggies also should be tender and not overly cooked. So you see this recipe demands perfection.
As they say practice makes a person perfect. I tried making yakhni pulao many times. Something or the other would go wrong. Most of the times the rice would be over cooked. The taste was alright but the texture was something that could have been improved upon.
Finally after some practice, now I can make a really good Yakhni pulao – so good, both in the taste department and with a fluffy non-sticky texture of the rice grains. Try this recipe and you will see its taste, flavor is much different and unique than your regular pulao.
My mom used to make an awesome Yakhni pulao and this recipe is inspired from hers. The vegetarian version of this Yakhni pulao is obviously made with a hearty mix of firm vegetables, but you could make it more wholesome by adding soy chunks, tofu or paneer.
About This Recipe
First we make the yakhni or the stock with the vegetables and spices. The veggies are cooked in water with a bouquet garni made of spices to make the broth or stock.
Wondering what is bouquet garni? Whole spices are kept in a muslin cloth and then tied tightly to a small bundle (also known in Hindi as ‘potli‘). It is this small bundle of the spices that is called bouquet garni.
This bouquet garni is placed together with the veggies, water and salt in a pan. The entire mixture is allowed to cook until the veggies are half-done or half-cooked. Later the spices are discarded. Then the broth or stock is strained and the veggies are kept aside.
This spice infused broth is then mixed with curd (yogurt), rice and the half-cooked veggies in a flavorful aromatic base of sautéed onions, herbs and seasonings. This entire assortment of vegetables, stock, aromatics, rice is tightly covered with a lid and slow cooked on dum until the rice grains are tender and softened.
The result of cooking with this technique, is that the rice absorbs all the flavors of the Yakhni stock. The result is a super delish and fragrant flavorful rice pulao.
It is better to use basmati rice for this pilaf recipe. For best results soak the basmati rice in water for about 20 to 30 minutes. Strain the soaked rice before adding it to the veggies and yogurt.
I have garnished the yakhni pulao with fried onions, mint leaves and cashews. You could just garnish with fried onions (also known as birista) skipping the cashews and mint.
Do try this aromatic and healthy yakhni pulao at home. The yakhni pulao is best served with an onion tomato raita or cucumber raita. You can also serve it with a veg curry of your choice.
How to make Yakhni Pulao
Make Vegetable Yakhni (Veg Stock)
1. Place the following spices in a muslin or cheese cloth to make the bouqet garni:
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- ½ tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 inch ginger, crushed
- 5 to 6 small to medium garlic cloves, crushed
2. Tie the muslin cloth securely with the spices inside it. This is the bouquet garni.
3. Heat 5 cups of water to a gentle boil on medium heat.
I have used 5 cups of water to make the yakhni pulao. So that I don’t need to add extra water later to the rice in case it is needed.
And if at all any extra yakhni or stock remains, it can be drank as it is like a thin soup or can be added to gravies, curries, dals, paratha etc.
4. Add 1.5 cup of mixed chopped veggies like french beans, carrots, cauliflower and potatoes. Also, add ½ cup of green peas (matar) together with the prepared bouquet garni. Add salt as required.
5. Cover with a lid.
6. Cook and simmer the veggies till they are half-done or par-cooked on medium-low to medium heat. This takes about 10 to 12 minutes.
Note that we are not boiling the vegetables here, but gently cooking them on a medium-low to medium heat.
Strain the Yakhni
7. When the vegetables are half-cooked, remove the the bouquet garni. Through a strainer carefully strain the stock or yakhni in a bowl and set the veggies aside.
When the bouquet garni becomes warm, squeeze it over the broth to extract more flavors from the spices. Open the muslin and discard away the spices.
8. Set the vegetable stock aside. From this vegetable stock measure 2 cups and keep aside.
Refrigerate the remaining veg stock and add it to your soups, lentils, curries, rice dishes, paratha, roti etc.
9. Meanwhile rinse 1 cup basmati rice and then soak the rice in water for 20 to 30 minutes. After 20 to 30 minutes drain all the water and set the rice aside. Preferably use aged basmati rice.
Sauté Spices, Onions
10. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a pan and let it melt.
11. Add the following spices to the melted ghee and fry for a few seconds until they splutter:
- 2 to 3 small tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
- 3 green cardamoms
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 black cardamom
- 4 to 5 black peppercorns
- 3 cloves
12. Then add 1 medium-sized sliced onion – about ½ cup thinly sliced onions.
13. Sauté the onions stirring often until they are golden.
Make Yakhni Pulao
14. Add the soaked and drained basmati rice.
15. Mix to combine the basmati and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes on low heat.
16. Now add the half-cooked vegetables and 2 cups of the vegetable stock or yakhni.
Add salt if needed. We have already added salt to the yakhni. Keep this in mind before adding the salt.
17. Add 3 tablespoons fresh curd (yogurt or dahi).
18. Mix well. Check the taste of the stock and it should be slightly salty.
19. Cover with a tight lid. I have wrapped the lid with a moist cotton cloth or kitchen napkin to cook on dum. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes on dum on a low heat.
20. Later open the pan. If the rice appears not to be completely cooked and the mixture looks dry, just add a splash of warm yakhni or broth to the rice. Gently stir with a fork.
Cover tightly and cook the pulao for a few minutes more. If there is some stock in the pulao, then do not add any extra veg stock. Simply cover the pan and cook further for some more minutes.
21. Take one tablespoon ghee or oil in a pan. add 1 small sized onion, sliced thinly – about ⅓ cup thinly sliced.
22. Once the onion changes to light brown color, you can add 12 to 14 cashews and sauté with the onions.
23. Sauté stirring often till the onions becomes golden brown.
24. While serving garnish yakhni pulao with the crispy caramelized onions, golden browned cashews and some chopped coriander or mint leaves. Serve hot or warm with onion raita or with onion kuchumber.
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For bouquet garni
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 inch ginger – crushed
- 5 to 6 garlic cloves – small to medium, crushed
For yakhni or stock
- 1.5 cups chopped veggies – mix of cauliflower, carrots, french beans
- ½ cup green peas – fresh or frozen
- 5 cups water
- salt as required
For yakhni pulao
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced onions or 1 small-sized onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves or mint leaves
- 12 to 15 cashews – optional
- 1 tablespoon Ghee
Making bouqet garni
- Take the coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and crushed ginger+garlic in a muslin cloth. Place them in the center.
- Tie the muslin cloth securely with the spices and ginger, garlic inside it. This is the bouquet garni.
Making yakhni (stock)
- Heat water to a gentle boil in a pan or pot on medium heat. Add the mixed chopped veggies, green peas and salt as required. Also place the bouquet garni in the pan or pot.
- Cover the pan and cook the veggies till they are half-done or half-cooked on medium-low to medium heat. Take into account the cooking time of 10 to 12 minutes. The vegetables are not boiled here but cooked gently on a medium-low to medium heat.
- Through a strainer strain the stock or yakhni in a bowl and set the half-cooked veggies aside.
- When warm or cool, squeeze the bouquet garni over the bowl containing the stock to extract as much as flavors from the spices. Open the muslin and discard the spices.
- Measure 2 cups of the stock and set it aside. You can use the remaining veg stock to make soup, dal or any gravy dish.
Making yakhni pulao
- Rinse basmati rice very well in water. Then soak the basmati rice in water for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Later drain the water and set the soaked rice aside.
- Heat ghee in a pan and let it melt.
- Add the whole spices – cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, black cardamom and peppercorns. Fry till they are fragrant for a few seconds.
- Add sliced onions. Stirring often, fry the onions until they are browned.
- Add the soaked basmati rice. Stir and mix the basmati rice well. Sauté gently on a low heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Now add the half-cooked veggies and 2 cups of the broth or yakhni. Add salt if needed. Note that we have already added salt to the yakhni. Keep this in mind before adding the salt.
- Add curd (yogurt) and mix well.
- Cover pan with a tight- fitting lid.
- Cook for 15 to 20 minutes on dum on a low heat.
- Later open the pan. If the rice appears not be completely cooked and the mixture looks dry, simply add in a few splashes of some warm yakhni or broth to the rice. Gently stir with a fork. Cover tightly and cook for a few minutes more.
- If there is some stock in the pulao, then do not add any extra veg stock. Simply cover the pan and cook further for some more minutes.
- Take one tablespoon ghee or oil in a pan. Add ⅓ cup thinly sliced onions.
- Once the onions changes to light brown color, you can add some cashews and continue to sauté with the onions. Sauté till the onion becomes golden brown.
- When serving, garnish yakhni pulao with crispy golden onions and cashew nuts. Sprinkle some chopped coriander or mint leaves.
- Serve veg yakhni pulao hot or warm with onion raita or with onion mint kuchumber.
- For the rice, it is better to use aged basmati rice. You can also use a good quality long grained rice.
- Use sturdy veggies like carrots, cauliflowers, beans etc. The vegetables have to be half-cooked while making the broth or yakhni.
- For a umami flavor in the broth, you can add about 1 tablespoon of dried oyster mushroom powder to the yakhni or stock.
- To add protein to the dish, add some tofu or paneer. Pan fry them and serve as a topping or garnish.
- If you have ready homemade stock, then first follow the steps of sautéing the spices and onions until golden. Add the vegetables and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Next add in the rice and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes on a low heat. Add the stock, yogurt and salt if needed. Mix well. Cover and cook until the rice grains are tender and fluffy.
- The recipe is scalable to a make a small batch or a larger batch.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This Yakhni Pulao post from the archives (Feb 2012) has been republished and updated on 8 October 2021.