Youre certainly not here to hear about biryani which is one of the favourite rice dishes among foodies across the globe. The process of making biryani is too long to be a quick recipe. So, when it comes to making a simple rice dish, we remove the complexities of biryani and turn it into a veg pulao instead. It is a dish that is served by biryani-centered restaurants as well while emanating the texture and fragrance of the same. It has a less caloric index and still manages to make the patrons salivate when the pot is opened.The Silk Route Rice DishThe pulao, as we know it in India, has its origins in Iran, where the Persians knew it as palav or polova. It travelled to present-day Turkmenistan through the silk route and went over to be famous in and around Istanbul. The palav of Istanbul then found its way to the kitchens in Greece where it became the world famous Pilaf rice, which is also served in many fine dining Indian restaurants. The Spaniards then got their hands on the recipe through the silk route, and made it their party staple paella. The Indian traders who had recently discovered rice enjoyed the palav and turned it into the fragrant pulao, by adding the many Indian masalas to the rice.Veg Pulao IngredientsHere are the ingredients that you need for this pulao rice recipe-- 11/2 a cup of basmati Rice (aged rice)- 2 tablespoons of oil or ghee (clarified butter)- Salt according to your taste- Water- 21/2 a cup for the pressure cooker and 23/4 for the pot- 11/2 teaspoon of ginger and garlic pasteVegetables and Greens-- 1 medium-sized onion, thinly sliced- 1 green chilli- 1 medium-sized carrot- 4 medium-sized french beans- a cup of cauliflower florets- a cup of green peas- 1 small potato diced (optional)- 3 tablespoons of finely chopped mint leaves (you can also use coriander leaves if you dont want the mint flavourWhole spices-- 1 bay leaf- 3-4 curry leaves- tablespoon of shahi jeera (caraway seeds) or regular jeera (cumin)- 4 green cardamoms (elaichi)- 4 clove florets (laung)- 2 inch cinnamon stick- 1 star anise (chakri phool), this is optional but it is recommended for the fragrance- A strand of mace (javitri)- A pinch of nutmeg (jaiphal)- 2 pinches of stone flower (patthar ka phool)- a teaspoon of fennel seeds (saunf) powder, if youre not adding mint then this too is optionalPreparing Pulao RiceThe rice needs to be washed properly to remove the extra starch. Take some rice into a big bowl and add some water. Wash the grains by rubbing them with your fists and then draining the water. Repeat the process until the water isnt muddy or white. Keep the wet rice aside for about half an hour before starting to cook.If you have parboiled basmati rice, you can reduce the time to fifteen minutes. With non-parboiled rice, however, you must rinse the rice and then keep it soaked in water for a few minutes. This will give a kick to the rice when added to the boiling water.Preparing the VeggiesWhile your rice is soaked, prepare the vegetable and herbs that youre going to add to the pulao. Make sure you wash all your vegetables under running water before chopping them.Dice your carrots into small pieces, chop the french beans into small pieces and store them both in a bowl of water. Dice the potatoes into small cubes, that is only if youre adding potatoes. Add the potatoes to the bowl of water as well, to prevent them from getting black. For your cauliflower florets, you can boil them for three minutes beforehand.Cut your onion into two pieces and then chop them into thin slices. You can slit your green chillies or chop them into small pieces. You can use either frozen peas from the market or peel pods. Once youve chopped and prepared all the veggies its time to get to the cooking part.Cooking Veg PulaoBefore you start cooking make sure you have all the ingredients in view because you dont want to burn one ingredient in the process of finding another. Lets start with the pulao rice recipe-1. Take two tablespoons of oil or ghee, according to your preferred caloric intake, and add it to a preheated pressure cooker or pot.2. Start with the jeera first once the ghee or oil is heated up, add it to the vessel and let it crackle.3. Add your whole spices one by one, its better to start with the cinnamon sticks before adding the bay leaf, curry leaves, star aniseed, cardamoms, clove, mace, nutmeg, stone flower and fennel seeds powder respectively.4. Once all the whole spices have crackled, add sliced onions and saute them until they turn light brown and then add ginger garlic paste along with the chillies. Mix them well.5. Start adding the veggies with all the hard veggies going in first to make sure they are all cooked evenly. Add the cauliflowers first. Let them char a little to make them brown is better to add some extra crunch. Next, add the carrots and let them fry for five minutes. Add the potatoes (if youre using them) next and let them cook for a few minutes. Add the french beans in the end and let them cook as well. As for the peas, you must not add them at this stage as its a delicate vegetables and might melt down to bits.6. Once youre done sauteing all the vegetables, strain all the water from your soaked rice and put it in the vessel. With a gentle hand, mix the rice with the vegetables and oil/ghee to wrap every grain of rice in the fat. This allows the rice to be fluffy and non-sticky.7. When the rice is coated in oil/ghee, add the peas and finely chopped coriander or mint leaves and toss them around gently.8. Instantly add two and a half cups of water to the vessel along with the salt according to taste9. Do not use a spatula to vigorously mix the rice as it is delicate at this point, you can move the pressure cooker or pot in a circular motion slowly instead.10. Let the veg pulao cook for about 12-15 minutes or two whistles of the pressure cooker on a medium flame. Once the pulao is cooked, turn off the stove but do not open the pot or cooker lid. Let the rice steam slowly for fifteen minutes.11. Open the lid and then use a fork to toss up the rice and release any remaining steam, you can also flip it into a big bowl.You can now serve the pulao with a sweet and sour onion and tomato raita (a yoghurt-based dip). Heres how to make it-1. Take 7-8 tablespoons of yoghurt or curd in a bowl and add three tablespoons of water to make a slurry.2. Then chop onions and tomatoes into fine pieces and add them to the mix and whisk it. Add salt to your taste and let the raita rest for a few minutes before serving.Tricks to make the veg pulao perfectWhen adding salt to the pulao, taste the water with a spoon and see if its salty. If the water is less salty for your taste add another dash of salt.To give a sour flavour to the pulao, you can also add two teaspoons of lemon juice to the cooked pulao.You can add richness to the pulao by opening the lid, after its cooked and adding a tablespoon of ghee over it and closing the lid again to let it steam. Your pulao will have a richness similar to dum biryani.Also, if youre looking for something health-conscious and yet want to enjoy the fullness of rice, try using black rice for once. Youll be shocked by the number of benefits it has.ConclusionVeg pulao is a great way to ease the cravings for having something delicious when you dont want to cook for long hours. It is the most basic rice dish that can bring the satisfaction of a royal dish without getting a lot of utensils involved. Dont forget to enjoy it with every side dish you can think of, like papad and raita.FAQs● How to make Raita to go with Pulao?Peel and chop cucumbers into small cubes and mince some cilantro. Add salt, cumin powder and garam masala to yoghurt and stir it. Add cucumber cubes and cilantro to the yoghurt mix and stir well. And your Raita is good to go!● What is the difference between biryani and pulao?Biryani is prepared using the draining cooking method whereas pulao is prepared with the absorption method. While making biryani, rice is par-boiled in water and then drained out. However, for pulao, the amount of water or stock is completely absorbed by the rice.