Simple Indian Pulao/Pilaf

If you hadn’t notice, this post is posted in the wee hours of the night. I woke up in the middle of my sleep feeling a bit hungry as I had my dinner too early and sleeping too early is partly to be blamed. I made myself a bowl of chicken sweet corn soup (recipe here) and started crafting this post.

Simple Indian Pulao/Pilaf

Recently I made a really simple vegetable Indian Pulao or Pilaf for dinner. Pulao/Pilaf is a type of Indian rice dish which is infused with spices and cooked with small vegetables like peas, mushrooms etc and variety of nuts. Pulao is also suitable for vegetarian diet. The ingredients incorporated in this rice dish is limitless. When making pulao/pilaf you can opt to be really simple or elaborated as you like! Pulao/Pilaf is not only limited to Indian continents but can be found at other parts of the world i.e. Russia, Persia and Morocco. Eating Pulao is so much more fun compared to eating plain rice I would say; and it is as good as consuming it on its own.

Simple Indian Pulao/Pilaf

This version of pulao in this post is a simple one – primary consisting of peas, chopped onions and garnished with fried shallots. As you would have guessed it this recipe is adapted from The Food of India book. Hope you enjoy the recipe.


  • 2 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 tablespoon ghee or oil
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cardamon pods
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger and juice
  • a pinch of saffron thread, soaked in 2 tablespoon warm milk
  • 2 Indian bay leaves/cassia leaves
  •  250ml coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoon fresh/canned/frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) chopped almonds
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) sultanas/raisins
  • a handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped (optional for garnishing)
  • rosewater (optional for infusion)


  1. Wash rice in a sieve under cold running water until water runs from the rice becomes clear. Drain the rice and put in a saucepan, cover with water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Place a small frying pan over low heat and dry roast cumin seeds until aromatic.
  3. Heat the ghee/oil in a kardal or heavy-based frying pan and fry the almonds and raisins till lightly browned. Remove and set aside. Add the shallots in, and fry using the leftover oil till they are golden brown. Remove and set aside.
  4. Using the same pan, add the soaked rice, roasted cumin seeds, cinnamon, cardamon, sugar, ginger juice, saffron and salt to the pan and stir fry until ingredients are well incorporated, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the bay leaves, peas and coconut milk to the pan. Stir to combine well.
  5. Add enough water to come about 2 inches above the rice. At this point, either you can opt to cook the rice in the heavy-based pan or transfer it to a rice cooker. If continue using the pan, bring to boil, cover and cook over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated and the rice is cooked through. If using a rice cooker, transfer the rice into a rice cooker and cook it as per instructions on the rice cooker.
  6.  When the rice is ready, scoop into a big bowl and stir in fried almonds, raisins and onions, reserving some for garnishing. Additionally, garnish the rice with coriander leaves and drizzle with rose water if you would like a more perfumed dish.

Notes: As different type of Basmati rice might have different water threshold level to let them cook through, kindly adjust the water level on step 5 accordingly. A normal ratio for cooking rice should be 1:2 means 1 cup of rice equals 2 parts/cups of water. In this recipe, we have used 250ml of coconut milk so that has to be taken into consideration of the total amount of liquid.

Simple Indian Pulao/Pilaf


“I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest - Indian Subcontinent hosted by Chef and Sommelier.”

Latest Comments
  1. Chef and Sommelier

    If you hadn’t notice, this comment was posted in the wee hours of the night and making me hungry! LOL!

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