Simple, aromatic and healthy vegetable pilau recipe

A curry without pilau (or pullao) rice is unthinkable. This version benefits from the addition of healthy vegetables. Replace rice with freekeh for a deliciously different, low-calorie one-pot with red pepper and sweet

Vegetable pilau

Simple, aromatic and healthy vegetable pilau recipe

For a lighter meatless version of Pilau, this is an incredibly flavorful and simple recipe that is a must-try!


  • 1.5 cups long grained or basmati rice soaked for 30 minutes
  • ¼ heaped cup each of chopped carrots, cauliflower/broccoli, French beans, green peas (fresh or frozen) and carrots. or 1 to 1.5 cups chopped veggies (you can add your choice of vegetables)
  • 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 tbsp ghee or 2.5 tbsp oil
  • salt as required
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera or ¾ tsp caraway seeds/shah jeera
  • 4 to 5 whole black pepper 
  • 1 Indian bay leaf or tej patta or tamalpatra
  • 2-3 cloves/laung
  • 2 to 3 green cardamoms/hari elaichi or choti elaichi
  • 1 black cardamom/ badi elaichi
  • 2 single strands of mace/jayitri or javitri, 
  • 1 small star anise/chakriphool
  • 1 inch cinnamon/dalchini
  • 1 small piece of stone flower/dagad phool or patthar ke phool (optional) 


Rinse till the water runs clear of starch and become transparent while rinsing. Soak the rice in enough water for 30 minutes. drain and keep aside. In a deep thick bottomed pot or pan, heat ghee/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 2-3 minutes on a low flame. Add all the veggies and saute again for 2-3 minutes on a low flame. Add drained rice and saute gently for 2 minutes on a low flame, so that the rice gets well coated with the oil.

Pour water and stir. Sprinkle 6 to 7 drops of lime juice. season with salt and stir again. 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 veg pulao with chopped coriander or mint leaves

Notes: If you are making veg pulao in a pressure cooker, then add 2.5 to 3 cups water. for an al dente texture, 2.5 cups is fine and for a softer texture 3 cups water is fine.
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