One-pot meal lovers, this one’s for you. Vegetable pulao (or pilaf, as it is popularly spelled in some parts of the world) is a rice dish cooked with vegetables and spices, typically served with yogurt or raita for a complete meal.
If you look up recipes of vegetable pulao, you’ll find that there is no standard way to cook this dish– the recipe varies by region, even by household. Here is a version of vegetable pulao that’s made in my home.
- Basmati rice – 1 cup
- Water – 2 cups
- Cauliflower – 250 grams
- Potatoes – 2
- Peas – 1/2 cup
- Carrots – 1
- Onions – 1
- Garam masala – 1/2 teaspoon
- Cumin powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Pepper powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Turmeric powder – a pinch
- Salt – to taste
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
- Vegetable oil – 2 tablespoons
1. Pre-cooking prep
Peel and cut potatoes lengthwise. Chop onions finely.
Cut carrots into 1-cm cubes. Break cauliflower into florets.
Thaw peas if using frozen.
Wash rice in several changes of water till the water runs clear. Drain and let it stand for 30 minutes.
In a skillet or kadhai, heat vegetable oil. When hot, splutter cumin seeds. Then add onions and sauté till they turn light golden.
Add potatoes and sauté for 2 minutes. Then add carrots, peas and rice. Stir and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
You could add the cauliflower florets too at this stage, but I sauté the cauliflower florets separately since I want them to be firm in the pulao.
Add salt, cumin powder, turmeric powder, pepper powder, garam masala to the skillet. Follow with two cups of water. Bring to a boil on high heat, then set the heat to low. If cauliflower was done separately, add it to the simmering pulao.
Cook covered on low heat till the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked. This would take 5-7 minutes. Then let the skillet stand, covered, for another 10 minutes. Do not take the lid off at all during this time.
FAQ: If the lid is opaque and has to be kept over the pulao throughout. how will we know when it is time to switch off the heat? Ans: Do what you do when blindfolded – use your ears! When all the water gets absorbed into the rice, the sound coming from inside the covered pan changes from bubbling pops to tiny rustles and crackles. As soon as that happens, cooking time should stop and standing time should start.
That’s how the vegetable pulao looks when the lid is taken off – all the veggies buoy up and rest on the surface.
Mix very gently to separately the rice grains and spread the veggies evenly through the rice.
Serve with a yogurt-based side dish, and other accompaniments you fancy.
Our vegetable pulao with dahi vada, carrot and radish slices, and a tomato-green eggplant curry: