Vegetable pulao is a wholesome, delicious and nutritious dish that does not actually require a lot of time to make. It looks intricate but the process is really quite easy. My version for today is a 30-minute, or more like 35 minute, one pot rice dish that requires minimal supervision and stirring.
The ideal rice for this pulao dish is basmati rice as it cooks in about 15 minutes. This is about the same amount of time that the veggies will take to cook. Rinse the rice a few times until the water runs clear.
Then drain as much of the water as possible. Then cover the rice with 3½ cups of water and let soak for about 15 minutes while we prepare the other ingredients. To deseed the tamarind paste, place it in some warm water.
Let it soak until softened. We have a more explicit video on how to deseed tamarind. I’ll leave the link in the description if you’d like to watch it. If you don’t have tamarind, you may substitute it with tomato puree.
While the rice and tamarind are soaking continue preparing the vegetables. I’ll be using about ¼ of a cauliflower head cut into small florets. Instead of fresh vegetables, you can also use mixed frozen veggies.
They are just perfect for this dish and will cut the preparation time to even less if you are really short of time, or you are making this on a week night or just want to take the day off prepping. You may peel the carrot if you wish and then dice it.
I am using a couple of shallots for today. You can use any types of onion of your choice — red, yellow or white; they all work fine for this dish. Peel and finely chop or mince the garlic. It’s important to cut the potato into small cubes for this recipe so that it cooks well along with the rice and other vegetables.
If the pieces are too chunky, they may remain a little crunchy. So cut it into cubes of about 2 to 3 cm or one inch. By now the tamarind would have softened enough. So mash it in between your fingers to dissolve the pulp and strain out the seeds.
Leave the tamarind juice aside for the moment. The spices that I am using for today are ground cumin, cinnamon. Instead of ground cinnamon, you can also use a stick of about 5 cm or 2 inches. Garam masala is optional.
Nutmeg, whole cloves, a few juniper berries. I’ll also be adding whole cardamom and saffron threads later on. You will need a thick bottom pot or pan for this dish. I am using a wok-style pan. You can also make this pulao in a pressure cooker or instant pot if you have one.
Heat one tablespoon of coconut oil on medium temperature. Add the onions, garlic and minced ginger. I usually keep pre-minced ginger on hand. I have another video where I’ve shared a few tips on how to pre-mince and preserve ginger or garlic.
Check the description for the link. Sizzle for about 2 minutes until onions are a little translucent. Then add the whole cumin. Roast for about 20 seconds. Next add the ground spices (cumin, garam masala, nutmeg and cinnamon), the whole cloves and juniper berries.
Roast for about 30 seconds. Add a little water if required. Then add the tamarind juice or tomato puree. Simmer and let the tamarind juice reduce. Then add the chilli and bay leaves. Add all the vegetables.
If you are using frozen vegetables add them in at this stage directly from frozen. Add a little salt and water (if necessary). Stir and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and frozen green peas.
I have used brown chickpeas but you can also use regular chickpeas or other beans like red beans, black eyed peas, or black beans. You can even use tofu or tempeh in which case, I would suggest that you pan-fry them first before adding them in.
Next add in the rice along with all the water that it has been soaking in. If you decide to substitute the rice with any other type like brown rice, you may need to half cook it beforehand depending on how long the rice takes to cook.
Add the whole cardamoms and saffron threads. Saffron is optional but it does add another depth of flavour to this pulao. So, if you can get hold of it, I do recommend it. It is one of the priciest spices that exists but a little goes a long way.
We only need about 4-5 threads. Distribute the threads around. Stir and mix the rice with the vegetables. Add a little more salt to taste. Now cover and simmer on low-medium heat for 15 minutes. If using a pressure cooker or instant pot, it will only require about 7 minutes.
Then turn off the heat and let the pan stand covered for another 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, uncover and fluff the rice. Garnish with fresh coriander or mint leaves. Serve hot accompanied with assorted pickles, a cucumber raita and coriander chutney.
We have videos of the raita and chutney, I’ll leave these links in the description. This veg pulao keeps well in the fridge and is even tastier the next day. To reheat, just add a little water in the pan, cover and heat on medium-low temperature until steamy.
This dish is so fragrant and delicious that it actually does not look that it was made in just about 35 minutes. It is a nice dish to even serve to guests. You can find a printable version of this recipe on our website.
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