No rice cooker? No problem. Follow James Beard Award-winning chef Meherwan Irani of Chai Pani through his shortcut method to flavorful vegetable pulao, an aromatic spiced rice mixed with vegetables. With an Instant Pot and a handful of spices, you can get this vegetarian dish on the table with just a few minutes of active, hands-on cooking times.
This one-pot vegetable pulao begins with cooking bay leaves, star anise, green and black cardamom, and cloves in ghee, which infuses the fat with a deep, toasty flavor. When adding the remaining ingredients, you want to cook them just enough to start to release their flavors but avoid frying them—stirring frequently helps achieve this.
Once you add the rice, the vegetable pulao cooks on high pressure for about 3 minutes, not including the time it takes for the pressure to build in the pot. When the timer runs out, let the mixture sit, lid on, for about 10 to 12 minutes so the rice can continue absorbing moisture. Once you release the pressure, give the mixture a good fluffing to mix together the vegetables and rice, and the pulao is ready to serve. Serve the vegetable pulao as a side to a piece of protein like chicken or lamb or enjoy with raita, pickled mango, and papadum.
Serves 4 to 6
2 cups rice
10 garlic cloves
3 Thai chiles
3-inch piece ginger, peeled
½ cup ghee
2 bay leaves
2 star anise pods
7 green cardamom pods
2 black cardamom pods
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
½ cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
¾ cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 cup 1-inch-diced carrot
1 cup 1-inch-diced potato
¾ cup 1-inch-diced green bell pepper, seeds removed
1 tablespoon black pepper, coarse ground
1 teaspoon garam masala
1½ tablespoons salt
- Rinse rice in cold water until water runs clear. Add drained rice to a bowl with 4 cups water and soak for 20 minutes.
- Use a mortar and pestle to mash garlic, chiles, and ginger into a coarse mixture. Set aside.
- Set Instant Pot to Sauté setting. If there’s an option for a Low or High setting, choose High.
- Add ghee to pot along with bay leaves, star anise, green and black cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and cloves. The spices will infuse ghee with flavor as it heats. Once ghee is hot, add garlic, chile, and ginger mash to pot and stir to coat well with ghee. Cook until aromatic and golden, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add green beans, peas, carrots, potato, and green bell pepper. Stir to coat well with ghee. Sauté, mixing occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in black pepper and garam masala.
- To the Instant Pot, add rice along with soaking water and salt. Give a good stir to incorporate vegetables into rice. Seal lid and Pressure Cook mixture on High for 3 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 12 minutes. Then, remove lid and fluff rice a few times with a cooking spoon before serving.
Recipe ByMeherwan Irani of Chai Pani in Asheville, North Carolina, and Decatur, Georgia
Contributing RestaurantChai Pani
Contributing CityAsheville Atlanta