This easy pea pulao is a vegan, gluten-free dish that is ideal to enjoy as a light meal or a hearty meal. Matar pulao consists of savory rice and peas with onions and aromatic spices and can be fully prepared in a pressure cooker or in a pot on a stovetop. I’m sharing three ways to make this delicious matar pulao – the pressure cooker method on the stovetop, while the pan and instant pot method with step-by-step instructions.
What are Peas Pulao
Also known as Matar Pulao (matar is the Hindi word for peas), this simple pea pulao is perfect for creating a comforting and healthy vegetarian main or side dish.
A pulao, known as pilaf, is usually made with rice and loaded with fresh or frozen vegetables. The bright stars in this pea pulao are definitely the green peas.
They are cooked with classic Indian spices and onions which add delicious notes, but without overpowering the earthy pea flavor.
The combination of basmati rice, caramelized onions and lightly sweet peas creates a rustic and hearty dish that you are sure to love.
And not only are pulao peas vegetarian and vegan, but they’re also gluten-free. So you can really feel good enjoying every tasty and delicious bite.
While I like to keep my version very simple to let the peas shine through, it’s easy to adapt the recipe to your liking. You can add chopped potatoes or carrots, or almost any other veg you prefer.
Plus, it can be prepared any way you choose, either in a stovetop pot or pressure cooker.
I learned this traditional green pea pulao recipe from my mother-in-law. In Hindi, we call it “matar wale chawal”. It is very popular in Punjabi homes and pairs perfectly with classic Indian delicacies like raita, curries, and dals (lentils).
Or, serve it on its own for a simple, yet totally satisfying, lighter meal. Give it a try and I am sure your family will enjoy it as much as we do!
How to make peas pulao
Preparation and sautéing of onions
1. First, prepare the basmati rice: Rinse 1 cup of basmati rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Then soak the rice for 20 to 30 minutes, drain it and set aside. This process is essential to ensure that each grain cooks properly to create the fluffiest, most tender rice dish.
2. Next, heat 3 tablespoons of oil or ghee in a 2-liter pressure cooker. Add the following spices:
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 medium sized tej patta
- 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
- 2 to 3 full cloves
- 1 black cardamom pod (optional)
- 1 to 2 fine sprigs of mace (optional)
- 1 or 2 green cardamom pods
Over low to medium-low heat, fry the spices for a few seconds, until they release their aroma and become fragrant. While frying, be careful not to burn the spices.
3. Next, in the pressure cooker, add half a cup of thinly sliced red onions.
TIP: Yellow and white onions are also good for this pulao.
4. Mix and sauté until the onions are a little caramelized or perfectly caramelized. But again, be sure not to burn the onions as it will create a bitter taste in the matar pulao.
5. Now add about ¾ cup of fresh or frozen green peas.
6. Mix well and brown the peas and onions for another minute.
Also Read: Tomato Rice
7. Add the drained basmati rice and mix gently. You don’t have to break the grains of rice.
8. Sauté and stir for a minute so that each grain of rice is coated with oil (or butter or ghee).
9. Then add 1¾ cup of water to the stove.
10. Season generously with salt. Mix well and check the taste to make sure the water is slightly salted.
Pressure Cooking Peas Pulao
11. Cover and pressure cook for 2 whistles over medium to high heat, or 6 to 7 minutes. If you prefer rice al dente, cook it under pressure for 1 whistle.
12. Allow the pressure cooker to stabilize for several minutes before releasing the pressure manually. Then open the cover. Using a fork, gently stir the rice before serving hot. Garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro (cilantro) or mint leaves.
Enjoy peas pulao on their own as a side or as a main course, or serve them with almost any condiment or side dish. Peas and rice pair perfectly with creamy and fresh yogurt sauces and dips, like Onion & Tomato Raita, Cucumber Raita or Raita Boondi.
Matar pulao also goes well with fresh Curd (Yogurt) as such and Kadhi Pakora, sliced onion rings, Indian tomato and onion salad (Kachumber) and / or mango pickles. or lemon. You can even serve with lemon wedges.
For an even bigger meal, peas pulao can be served with fried or roasted papad or masala, a simple Gujarati Kadhi and a delicious pakora.
I wouldn’t recommend storing peas pulao or just any pulao. The rice grains become quite dry and the taste is not so good when stored for a day.
If you have any leftovers, keep them in a covered container in your refrigerator for only about a day. Do not freeze.
Before serving, steam the leftovers in a saucepan or Instant Pot. Alternatively, you can even sauté in a small pan or frying pan, sprinkling with water so that the rice grains don’t dry out much.
Cooking matar pulao in a pan
Follow these 3 simple steps to prepare matar pulao in a pot or stove on the stove:
- First, prepare the rice according to the instructions in the original recipe. Meanwhile, fry the spices and sliced onions in a deep skillet or saucepan with hot oil, ghee or butter. Then add the fresh or frozen green peas and the drained rice, as well as 2 to 2¼ cups of water (depending on the quality of the rice).
- Cover the pot tightly with a lid and cook until all the water is absorbed and the rice grains are tender and fluffy – about 20 to 25 minutes. You should see small steam holes after the rice is cooked. Make sure you keep a close eye on the rice while it cooks. If all the water is absorbed too quickly, the rice will be undercooked, so add a tablespoon of water if necessary.
- Once done, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork before serving hot.
Instant pot method
Similar to cooking in a pressure cooker on the stovetop, this pea pulao is easy to make using an instant pot.
The preparation is roughly the same: in a 6 quart IP, use the stir-fry function to brown the spices and onions. Then add the peas, soaked and drained rice, 1 ½ cups of water and salt, and stir.
Switch to the manual setting and cook under pressure on high power for 5 minutes. Wait 10 minutes after the end of pressure cooking (and the machine beeped) before quickly releasing the pressure. Do not exceed 10 minutes for the natural pressure release, otherwise your rice will be overcooked and become gooey.
Notes and exchanges of ingredients
- Type of rice: Old basmati rice will give your pulao the best taste and texture. If you don’t have basmati rice, include a non-sticky variety of long or medium grain rice.
- Whole spices: Try adding all the whole spices mentioned in the matar pulao recipe. However, if they are not readily available, you can feel free to leave out the black cardamom and mass. The dish won’t have quite the same earthy and smoky flavor but will still be quite delicious!
- Herbs: Including herbs like coriander leaves (cilantro) or mint or equal combinations of the two, gives good taste and flavor to herbs. Add about 3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro and mint leaves or 2 tablespoons of each. For the dried mint, add about 1 teaspoon of in your matar pulao.
- Color: The color of matar pulao is here slightly brown due to the caramelization created when frying the onions. I highly recommend caramelizing the onions as it gives the dish nice sweet nuances. But if you want a white colored pulao, instead of caramelizing, you can sauté the onions until they are translucent. You can also add a few drops of lemon juice which will help maintain the white color of the rice.
- Rice / water ratio: When cooking in a pressure cooker, 1½ to 1¾ cups of water works perfectly for 1 cup of basmati rice. But depending on the quality of the rice, you can add less or more water – from 1 ½ cups to 2 cups.
- Spicy: This matar pulao is not spicy. To make a spicy pea pulao, you can add green chili peppers and 1 teaspoon of ginger-garlic paste.