Vegetable pilau rice: easy and tasty rice dish

Vegetable pilau rice - Pakistani style

Vegetable pilau rice is a clever way to make your rice more enjoyable at the same time you eat more veggies. No more boring plain white rice. 

Vegetable pilau rice

As the name implies, vegetable pilau rice is a rice dish with vegetables in it. It is cooked in spices infused stock the same way you cook pilau rice. 

This type of cooked rice is originally from the oriental, the East. 

You can find similar dishes across Asia. It may be called pilau or pilaf. But essentially, both foods are alike if not the same.

All use the method of cooking the rice in spiced stock. 

vegetable pilau rice with an overlay text

Similar to 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. 

Just so you know, 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. 

Side dishes to go with vegetable pilau rice

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 a favourite at many events, weddings, or gatherings with family and friends.

Key ingredients

There are five ingredients that you must have to make this rice dish.

  1. Basmati rice.
  2. Onion.
  3. Vegetables.
  4. Spices and herbs.
  5. Salt.

In the case you can not get Basmati rice, you can substitute it with long grain rice.

Vegetable pilau rice in a white bowl

As for spices and herbs, you need whole spices such as whole cumin seeds, whole black peppercorns, cloves, black cardamoms, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves.

Now, when it comes to vegetables, you can choose whatever you like. But the common choices are carrots, green peas, green beans, sweetcorn kernels, and cauliflower. 

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

If you know how to cook Basmati rice, you will find this pilau rice with vegetables easy to make.

Essentially, you need to prepare the rice and the vegetable stock in which you cook the rice. 

Wash, rinse and soak the rice before you start preparing the stock.

So, first, you fry the onion in a little oil with all other spices and herbs until the onion becomes soft and translucent with the fragrant from all the spices. 

frying onions and spices for pilau rice
onion and spices being fried on a cooking pan

Note here, you can fry the onion until golden brown if you want your pilau rice to be slightly brown in colour. 

Next, you add the vegetables and salt. Stir fry for a few minutes before adding water and cooking it.

Once the water reaches boiling point, add the salt and turn the heat down. Let it simmer until the vegetables are cooked and the water looks cloudy.

adding water to boil the rice and vegetables
cooking the vegetables and rice until the water evaporates

Then drain the rice and cook it in the vegetable stock until all the liquid evaporates and the rice is almost cooked. Line the pan lid with a tea towel and put the lid on the pan. Lower the heat and cook further until the steam comes out. 

cooking pan with the lid covered with tea towel
ready cooked vegetable pilau rice

Tips to make the best vegetable pilau rice

  • Soak the rice for at least half an hour before cooking. You will see the grains plumped up and turn opaque white.
  • Fry the spices and herbs until they all release a delicious aroma.
  • Take your time in cooking and simmering the veggies so you get better from the vegetables. The water will look cloudy as the stock becomes savoury. 
  • Make sure you don’t overcook the rice. You don’t want soggy pilau rice. 

More recipes for Pakistani rice dishes

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, don’t forget to check out my other recipes for Pakistani rice dishes 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 the spices, i.e. cumin seeds, cardamoms, cloves, black peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and salt. Give it a stir and let it cook for a minute until it gives an aroma.
  3. Then add in the salt, green peas and carrots. Stir it gently and let it fry for a minute or two before adding water. Let it cook and simmer until the water looks cloudy and the veggies are cooked.
  4. Drain the rice and add it to the stock. 
  5. Cook at medium-high heat until all the water evaporates.
  6. 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 steam come out of the pan, your vegetable pilau rice is ready.


  • The longer you simmer the vegetable, the more savoury you get in the stock. 
  • You can take the spices out of the stock before adding the rice if you prefer.
  • Take care not to overcook the rice. Otherwise, the grains will go mushy.

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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