Vegetable pilau rice: easy and tasty rice dish

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Vegetable pilau rice - Pakistani style

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Vegetable pilau rice

Vegetable pilau rice is a type of pilau rice that is made with vegetables. Just like other kinds of pilau rice, this rice dish is also cooked in spices infused water/ stock. That is what makes pilau rice different from boiled rice. It uses spices-infused water to cook it.

This type of cooked rice is originally from the oriental, the East. You can find similar dishes across Asia. It may be called pilau, pulao, pilaw, or pilaf. But essentially, both foods are alike if not the same.

vegetable pilau rice with an overlay text

And just like any other food, the recipe develops further as people take on different things to improve according to their palates and taste buds.

As for the recipe I’m sharing with you here, it is based on the vegetable pilau rice I learned from my Pakistani sister in law. Bear in mind, her cooking is also influenced by the style of Asians who lived in Africa. Because she used to live there for decades. So the recipe may be slightly different from the Pakistanis who live in Pakistan.

However, I have many Pakistani friends who can happily say that my vegetable pilau rice is tasty yet easy to make. 

How to enjoy your vegetable pilau rice

Vegetable pilau rice in a white bowl

Traditionally, you have your pilau rice with curries and yoghurt as the side dishes. Often we enjoy the vegetable pilau rice with Aloo Gosht (meat and potato curry), Aloo Palak (spinach and potato curry), Chicken Tikka, yoghurt chutney, and some green salad.

This menu is quite common and favourite at many events, weddings, or gatherings among my extended family and friends.

In my household, we often have this rice dish to make sure the children have extra vegetables in their diets. I would cook this rice and make a few curries as the sides. Our typical menu will be:

Key ingredients

Basmati rice

Basmati rice is the best choice to make good pilau rice. However, should you find it hard to get this type of rice, long grain rice will be sufficient as a substitute.

Disclaimer though, I personally never made vegetable pilau rice or any other Pakistani rice dishes with long grain rice. But I know some people who do it, and they say it’s nice.


Technically, you can use any type of onions, both yellow/ brown onion or red onion. So it matters not. Your dish will be tasty either way.


You will only need whole spices and some dried herbs for this recipe. They are whole-cumin seeds, whole black peppercorns, whole cloves, black cardamoms, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks.


The most common pilau rice uses green peas and carrots. Sometimes I put cauliflower florets too. But I personally think you can put any vegetables you like. 

In the past, I even put courgettes/ zucchini. So I’ll leave the choices to your liking as this recipe is forgiving.

How to make pilau rice with vegetable

Firstly, you make the spices infused oil by frying the onions and all the spices.

frying onions and spices for pilau rice
1. Fry the onion and spices
onion and spices being fried on a cooking pan
2. Fry until the onion golden yellow and the spices fragrant

Secondly, you lightly fry the rice and the vegetables until they absorb the flavour.

adding rice, carrots, and peas in the pan
2. Add the rice, carrots, and peas
Frying the rice and vegetables for pilau rice
3. Lightly fry the rice and the vegetables

Thirdly, you boil the rice and the vegetable until all the water evaporates.

adding water to boil the rice and vegetables
4. Add the water
cooking the vegetables and rice until the water evaporates
5. Cook until water evaporates

Lastly, steam the rice.

cooking pan with the lid covered with tea towel
6. Put the lid on
ready cooked vegetable pilau rice
7. Readily steamed vegetable pilau rice

Related posts

I hope you’re now inspired to cook this vegetable pilau rice. When you do try, it will be awesome if you could share what you think about the recipe in the comments below.

And please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest to sneak a peek at what’s cooking in my kitchen.

Before you go, you may want to check out my other recipes that you may like.

Thank you and all the best.

Yield: 8

Vegetable Pilau Rice

A bowl of Pakistani vegetable pilau rice

Vegetable pilau rice is a one-pot rice dish that not only is easy to make, but it is also tasty and versatile. You can pair the rice with delicious curries, or just have it as is.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • 2 cups/ 400 gr/ 14.1 oz Basmati rice, wash and soak in water one hour before cooking.
  • 1 onion, finely chopped.
  • ½ tsp whole cumin seeds.
  • 3 black cardamoms.
  • 15 whole cloves.
  • 20 whole black peppercorns.
  • 2 bay leaves.
  • 2-inches cinnamon stick.
  • 1 ½ tsp salt.
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil.
  • 1 cup green peas, frozen or fresh.
  • 120 gr/ 4.23 oz carrots, diced.
  • 2 ¾ cups/ 660 ml/ 22.32 fl.oz of hot boiling water (from the kettle).


  1. Fry the chopped onion in a cooking pot until translucent and light golden in colour.
  2. Put in the rest of spices, i.e. cumin seeds, cardamoms, cloves, black peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and salt. Give it a stir and let it cook for a minute until it gives an aroma.
  3. Drain the rice and carefully add in the spices. Then add in the salt, green peas and carrots. Stir it gently and let it fry for a minute or two until the water slightly evaporates. Take care not to let the rice and vegetables stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the water in and stir the rice making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom and the side of the pot. Let it cook at medium-high heat until all the water evaporates.
  5. When all the water has gone, and the rice looks almost done but still firm, put the lid on and cook at low heat to steam. It usually takes about 2-3 minutes to steam the rice. Once you can see the steams come out of the pan, your vegetable pilau rice is ready.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 158Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 0mgSodium 451mgCarbohydrates 24gFiber 4gSugar 2gProtein 3g

The nutrition calculation you find here is just a guide provided by online nutrition calculator. You should not use to substitute advice from nutritionists or health practitioners.

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