Instant Pot Vegetable Pulao or Pilaf Recipe

by Jyoti Sawant
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Vegetable Pilaf or Pulao or Pulav as it is sometimes called is an Indian style fragrant rice dish that is a delicious, super healthy, and super quick one-pot meal. The name pulao has been derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Pulaaka’ meaning ‘ball of rice’.

Pulao or Pilaf or Pulav or Pilav seems to be prevalent among many countries, in different versions though. The Spanish added seafood and saffron to it and called it Paella, the Turks called it Pilav, and the Italians called it Risotto.

I have grown up eating vegetable pulav more often than you can even imagine. It would show up on our rotational menu mostly on Mondays as Monday was a no meat day in our house and why not this dish was simple but quite exotic in itself.

If you give me rice I”ll eat today; If you teach me how to grow rice, I”ll eat everyday.

MAHATMA GANDHI

So what got me started to make and post this now?

Virtual Classes

Not sure if you are aware but I conduct live/ virtual cooking classes on www.cocusocial.com and have taught several classes like Vegetable Pilaf, Chicken Tikka Masala, Naan and Kabobs, Vegan-Friendly Daal and Peas Pulao and Kids friendly Spaghetti and Meatballs and so on, so if you are interested don’t forget to pay a visit. Here is the link https://cocusocial.com/newevent/4Dzr8rIfV_Online_Chicken-Tikka-Masala_Jul-12

So when we got locked down back in March and were forced to hunker down, things were going so crazy. There were empty stores, no socializing, working from home, kids with no school. Suddenly the whole world was resorting to going virtual. To go with the flow, Cocusocial and I as their partner decided to go virtually live as well to keep the company afloat. I had conducted many realtime live workshops, but now was the time to jump into the virtual world pool.

We decided to do a free virtual class first, for 100 guests to see the response. And for that free first class, we chose this Indian “Vegetable Pilaf” as our first recipe and guess what? Not just was it sold out, we got rave reviews for the class.

Why did we choose this dish and what made it an instant hit especially during these times?

During this time of uncertainty, while everyone was struggling to make the most out of their groceries, wondering what easy meals to prepare with whatever they had in their pantry, we thought of giving them some relief with an easy recipe that would go a long way. Here is why we picked this dish:

  • Ease of Adaptability: We chose this recipe especially because of the ease of its adaptability. You can swap vegetables in this dish to any other vegetables that you may have on hand or alternate it with any meat protein to make it your family’s favorite. When you are trying to substitute don’t worry too much about the right substitutions, instead just swap whole spices for whole spices, vegetables for vegetables, or with any meat protein but make sure you adjust the timings accordingly, meaning make sure you cook your meat nearly done before you add the rice. You can even add beans or tofu or paneer (Indian cottage cheese) along with the vegetables or as a vegetable alternative. Believe me, the results of substituting ingredients can be magical and then again they make the recipe your own. Let your imagination get wild. I have used Basmati (Tilda brand) rice in this dish but you can use any other long or short-grain rice. To give it a healthier twist try using any of these:  Black rice, dirty rice, brown rice.  You can also use couscus or quinoa but the water: rice ratio and the time to cook them will change.
  • Simplicity and Exotic: Vegetable Pulao is simple and quick and yet it is exotic enough to be served as a gourmet meal. The uniqueness of this easy mixed Vegetable pilaf recipe lies in the use of aromatic spices that provide a nice and complex flavorful combination that simply makes you drool. These spices not only add flavor but are full of medicinal benefits.
  • Wholesome Meal: Wholesome and nutritious, packed with veggies, such that you won’t require anything with it (unless you insist) other than Raita which is like a yogurt dip used more as an accompaniment, or just try some mint chutney or any Indian pickle.
  • One-Pot-One-Shot: It is a One-Pot-One-Shot meal and nothing beats that as it saves time, fewer utensils to clean.

I made this on the stovetop and still it was a winner. But I decided this one has to be given a shot in the Instant Pot. Well, the results were spectacular. If the stovetop one was easy, the Instant Pot one was a breeze.

Why make this in the Instant Pot?

Well let’s just say I am an ardent fan of Instant pot, I have 3 Instant pot, the 6 Quart 10-In-Instant , the 8 Quart 10-In-Instant Pot and Instant Pot® Duo Crisp™ + Air Fryer  

My 6 quart is a workhorse and I have been making a storm in that but when I eventually decided to create a cooking course on Instant Pot www.instantpotmastercourse.com  I needed two Instant pots for recording purposes and thats when I bought the 8 Quart, it turned out to be a huge help during parties and big gatherings. Finally my new addition of Duo Crisp was due to my new obsession with air-fryers, you will soon see me posting recipes for that.

Here is why making this dish in the Instant Pot is win-win:

  • One-Pot-One-Shot meal and nothing beats that right?  as it saves time and fewer utensils to clean.
  • Fill it shut it and forget: Just add everything to the pot and forget it. 35 minutes later you will have a meal on your table.
  • No Babysitting: like you have to on Stove-top. Make some Raita (Yogurt dip) in the meanwhile. I have given the recipe for it.

Let’s get started!

HOW TO MAKE INSTANT VEGETABLE PULAO– STEP BY STEP RECIPE

GET YOUR INGREDIENTS READY

  • 2 tablespoons Ghee or 1  tablespoon butter + 1  tablespoon vegetable oil or 2 tablespoons oil for vegans (for best results use ghee)
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1-star anise (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorn, whole
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • ½ cup carrots, diced (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup green beans, cut into 1-inch size (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup cauliflower florets, cut into 1-inch size (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup frozen green peas
  • 2 cups, basmati or any other long-grain rice
  • Salt to taste
  • You will also need
  • 2 cups of water for cooking

Step 1: Soak Rice: Rinse your rice about 3 to 4 times or until water runs clear. Soak rice in just enough water to cover it for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Keep it aside. In the meanwhile, while the rice is soaking prep the vegetables. If you are using frozen vegetables just skip this step. In case you are using fresh vegetables, just cut them up to 1-inch size.

Step2: Saute dry spices in the Instant Pot: Plugin the Instant Pot and remove the lid. Place the steel insert/ inner pot inside the IP. Select Sauté/Browning on your Instant Pot/ Pressure Cooker and adjust to the highest setting. Allow the cooking pot to fully heat. Once the screen displays HOT, add ghee (or butter and oil or just oil if you are vegan).Once the ghee/ butter melts add cinnamon stick then add, bay leaf, star anise, peppercorns, and cumin seeds. Sauté everything for 1 minute.

Step3: Saute Onions: Now add sliced onions and sauté them for about 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt for the onions to sweat and cook faster and evenly. Cook until they are translucent and not brown. Just to speed up the process, cover the IP with a glass lid and let onions cook and soften. Once the onions are translucent and softened the onion base for the pulao is ready. From this point, you can either add vegetables and make it a vegetable pilaf, which is what we are going to make here or you could add chicken to make chicken pilaf or shrimp to make shrimp Pulao and so forth. The choice is yours and it is upto your imagination.

Step 4: Add the Vegetables: Now add vegetables. Add carrots, green beans, and cauliflower, green peas, and just combine. Season with salt.

Step 5:  Add rice and sauté: Drain all the water from the soaked rice and add it to the vegetables and sauté for 5 seconds so that each grain of rice is coated well with the spices.

Step 6: Add Water and cook: Generally, on a stovetop, the ratio for rice and water is typically 1:2 (we all know that) but because we are cooking under pressure in the Instant Pot the ratio changes to 1:1. Why? Two reasons:

  • In the pressure cooker there is no place for moisture to evaporate and it absorbs all the liquid that is there in the container as against stovetop, hence we use less water in the pressure cooker.
  • The vegetables have some moisture in them that adds to the liquid.

So add 2 cups of water to the 2 cups of sautéed rice and vegetables. Combine everything and SWITCH OFF THE SAUTE MODE. Please DO NOT ADD MORE WATER. It will make your rice mushy.

Step7: Set the Instant pot/ Pressure Cooker: Place the lid on the Instant Pot and lock it, switch the “Steam release handle” to Sealing/Close/ No venting position. Press the PRESSURE COOK/ MANUAL MODE  and set it to 2 MINUTES on HIGH PRESSURE (Use the “+ or -” key to select 2 minutes of cooking time). Once you select the time, wait till it says “ON” on the screen. It will take about 8 minutes for IP to come to pressure. The pressure will build and once the pressure builds, the timer will start counting down from 2 minutes to 0 minutes. Once the timer reaches 0, the Instant Pot will automatically switch to “Keep Warm”. Do Natural Pressure release ((NPR).

Step8:Open the lid: As soon as the safety pin drops down, open the Lid. Let it sit uncovered for about 5 minutes. Take a fork and fluff up the pilaf to separate the rice grains gently.

Step 9: Garnish and serve: Garnish with cilantro and serve hot along with some yogurt raita or pickle or some mint chutney. Enjoy! This is quite a wholesome meal by itself but if you want to add another side dish to it

More Pilaf’s based on this: Chicken pilaf, shrimp pilaf, fish pilaf, Tofu pilaf, Paneer Pilaf.

Instant Pot Vegetable Pulao or Pilaf Recipe

Vegetable Pilaf or Pulao or Pulav as it is sometimes called is an Indian style fragrant rice dish that is a delicious,super healthy, and super quick one-pot meal. The name pulao has been derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Pulaaka’ meaning ‘ball of rice’.Pulao or Pilaf or Pulav or Pilav seems to be prevalent among many countries, indifferent versions though. The Spanish added seafood and saffron to it andcalled it Paella, the Turks called it Pilav, and theItalians called it Risotto.
Total Time40 mins
Course: dinner, lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Instant pot, instantpot, Instantpotqurantimesrecipes, instantpotrecipes, onepot, onepotmeals, pilaf, pulao, pulav, Rice, Vegan, vegetable pilaf, vegetable pilav, vegetable pulao, Vegetarian
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 180kcal
Author: Jyoti Sawant

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Ghee or (1  tablespoon butter + 1  tablespoon vegetable oil) or (2 tablespoons oil for vegans). For best results use ghee.
  • 2 whole Bay leaves
  • 1 inch Cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole Star anise
  • 1 tspn black peppercorn, whole
  • 1/2 tspn cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch size (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 cups basmati or any other long-grain rice
  • 1 tspn Salt to taste
  • 2 cups water for cooking

Instructions

  • Step 1: Soak Rice:
    Rinse your rice about 3 to 4 times or until water runs clear. Soak rice in just enough water to cover it forat least 20 to 30 minutes. Keep it aside.
    Step 2: Prep the Vegetables:
    In the meanwhile, while the riceis soaking prep the vegetables. If you are using frozen vegetables just skip this step. In case you are using fresh vegetables, just cut them up to 1-inch size.
    Step2: Prep Instant pot and saute dry spices: Plugin the Instant Pot and remove the lid. Place the steel insert/ inner pot inside the IP. Select Sauté/Browning on your Instant Pot/ Pressure Cooker and adjust to the highest setting. Allow the cooking pot to fully heat. Once the screen displays HOT, add ghee (or butter and oil or just oil if you are vegan).Once the ghee/ butter melts add cinnamon stick then add, bay leaf, star anise, peppercorns, and cumin seeds. Sauté everything for 1 minute.
    Step3: Saute Onions: Now add sliced onions and sauté them for about 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt for the onions to sweat and cook faster and evenly. Cook until they are translucent and not brown. Just to speed up the process, cover the IP with a glass lid and let onions cook and soften. Once the onions are translucent and softened the onion base for the pulao is ready. From this point, you can either add vegetables and make it a vegetable pilaf, which is what we are going to make here or you could add chicken to make chicken pilaf or shrimp to make shrimp Pulao and so forth. The choice is yours and it is upto your imagination.
     Step 4: Add the Vegetables:
    Now add vegetables. Add carrots, green beans, and cauliflower, green peas, and just combine. Season with salt.
     Step 5:  Add rice and sauté:
    Drain all the water from the soaked rice and add it to the vegetables and sauté for 5 seconds so that each grain of rice is coated well with the spices
    Step 6: Add Waterand cook:
    Generally, on a stovetop,the ratio for rice and water is typically 1:2 (we all know that) but because weare cooking under pressure in the Instant Pot the ratio changes to 1:1. Why? Two reasons:
    1  Because there is no place for moisture to evaporate right?. It absorbs all the liquid that isthere in the container as against stovetop, hence we use less water in the pressure cooker.
    2.  The vegetableshave some moisture in them that adds to the liquid.
    So now add 2 cups of water to the 2 cups of sautéed rice and vegetables. Combine everything and SWITCH OFFTHE SAUTE MODE. Please DO NOT ADD MORE WATER. It will make your rice mushy.
    Step7: Set the Instant pot/ Pressure Cooker:
    Place the lid on the InstantPot and lock it, switch the “Steam release handle” to Sealing/Close/ No venting position. Press the PRESSURE COOK/ MANUAL MODE  and set it to 2 MINUTES on HIGH PRESSURE (Use the “+ or -” key to select 2 minutes of cooking time). Once you select the time, wait till it says “ON” on the screen. It will take about 8 minutes for IP to come to pressure. The pressure will build and once the pressure builds, the timer will start counting down from 2 minutes to 0 minutes. Once the timer reaches 0, the Instant Pot will automatically switch to“Keep Warm”. Do Natural Pressure Release ((NPR). As soon as the safetypin drops down, open the Lid. Let it sit uncovered for about 5 minutes. Take a fork and fluff up the pilaf to separate the rice grains gently.
    Step 8: Garnish and serve: Garnish with cilantro and serve hot along with some yogurt raita or pickle or some mint chutney. Enjoy! This is quite a wholesome meal by itself but if you wantto add another side dish to it
    More Pilaf’s based on this: Chicken pilaf, shrimp pilaf, fish pilaf, Tofu pilaf, Paneer Pilaf.

Notes

Where to find Ingredients:
    • An Indian grocery store will most definitely have all these ingredients but most of the ingredients that I have mentioned in this recipe are easily available in any grocery store.
    • Star anise and Basmati rice are the only two ingredients that you may or may not find easily. If you don’t find star anise just skip it, try clove or whole spice instead. Plus instead of basmati rice use another long-grain rice. 
    • This dish calls for basmati rice, some of the good brands are Tilda, Kohinoor, Dawat, and India Gate. You can easily find them online but in case you can’t find it, just use any long grain rice. Except don’t use Jasmine rice or sticky rice any rice that is too starchy as the water: rice ratio differs for them.
Drink Pairing: Any dry white Wines like Sauvignon BlancPinot GrigioPinot GrisPinot Blanc, and Sémillon wines are especially good and go well with this pilaf.
A Mango lassi or Lemonade would also work great if you are looking for beverages without alcohol.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Vegetable Pulao or Pilaf Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 180
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @JoSawant or tag #JoSawant!
Jyoti Sawant

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