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  • Writer's pictureAarti Kapoor

Spiced Vegetable Pulao

Basmati rice cooked with whole spices and vegetables

Vegetable Pulao, basmati rice cooked with vegetables

An Indian spiced rice dish is something that offers considerable comfort to me. Basmati rice cooked along with whole spices, herbs and vegetables yields a delicious and fragrant meal that is satisfying for the Indian soul. The aromas of the spices and basmati rice are so good while this dish is being slowly cooked that it makes the anticipation of eating the meal when cooked even more enjoyable.

The whole spices add subtle flavor and spice to the rice. I add some mint leaves since I love the flavor of mint, but you can choose to omit that.

It is important to use long grain basmati rice when you make a pulao. The starchy version of rice will end up in a rice veggie mish mash, which will not be appealing.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Serves: 4


1.5 cups basmati rice

1.5 cups of chopped vegetables (you can use carrots, green beans, cauliflower, potatoes or peas)

1 large onion thinly sliced

1 medium tomato, blended

1 tbsp finely chopped ginger

1 tbsp finely chopped garlic

1 green chili, slit lengthwise

2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped fine

2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped fine

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tbsp oil

Whole spices

2 black cardamoms

2 small green cardamoms

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 bay leaf

1 small star anise

1 small stick cinnamon

2 cloves


Rinse the rice in running water and soak the rice for 20 minutes in lukewarm water.

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan and add the whole spices. Fry the spices in the oil, until the oil becomes fragrant and the spices sizzle. Now add the onions and sauté until light brown. Lower the heat and add a pinch of salt. This will help brown the onions faster. Once the onions are brown on the edges, add the ginger, garlic and green chili. Sauté for a minute and add the blended tomatoes.

Cook the tomatoes well until they become soft and pulpy. The water in the tomatoes should dry up. If the mixture dries up and sticks to the bottom of the pan, add a tsp of oil. Now add turmeric powder followed by the chopped veggies. Give the veggies a good stir and sprinkle salt enough for the veggies.

Now add in the soaked rice and give a gentle mix so that the rice is well coated with the veggies and the spices. Add in 3 cups of water and add salt to taste. Throw in the mint leaves.

Cover the pan tightly and cook on low heat until the water is absorbed. Check a few times if the water is enough and the rice is not sticking to the bottom. Usually, 1-cup rice to 3 cups water is the right proportion but depending on the quality of rice this may differ.

It’s important not to stir the rice too much; this will break the rice grains. Use a fork to gently stir the rice. Once the rice is cooked (takes about 15 minutes), remove the lid and fluff it up with a fork. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve hot with a bowl of raita and a salad.

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