Yellow colored Green Peas Pulao recipe is an aromatic Indian rice and peas dish. This delicious and spicy rice dish pairs well with curry, dal, or raita. Make this easy vegan matar pulao in just 30 minutes using either leftover rice or by cooking rice with green peas together. Both stovetop and Instant Pot instructions are included!
What is matar pulao
In India, rice pilaf is called pulao. Pulao, Pilau, or pilaf is a mildly spiced rice dish seasoned with spices, veggies, or some kind of meat. There are many varieties of pulav based on the country and region. Some of the most popular vegetarian pulao recipes are Jeera Pulao and Peas Pulao. It's also called Matar wale Chawal, or Pattani Rice. Lasuni Palak Pulao and Soya Pulao are two more pulao recipes on the blog that you can try.
Matar is an Indian term for green peas. So Matar Rice or Pulao translates loosely to 'Rice flavored with Peas'. Of course, it's more than just peas and rice cooked together. There are cilantro, garlic, and other spices involved that make it flavorful and tasty. It's either white in color similar to Jeera Rice and very mildly spiced or it's made yellow in color with a variety of spices. It's a popular dish from the Indian and Pakistani cuisine.
If you go to restaurants in India, the menu will usually have a section called 'Rice dishes' that will have a selection of flavored rice dishes. Matar Rice or Peas Pulao is one such popular rice dish offered in most restaurants and each restaurant has its own way of preparing it. In fact, it's also a popular dish to be made in Indian homes and every family has its own way of making it.
As children, we would visit this restaurant with our parents on special occasions. My brother and I would always only order one dish - Green Peas Pulao! It was our favorite. At the restaurant, they served this plain mildly flavored white matar pulao with a curry on the side which was also made with green peas. This yellow-colored matar pulao recipe is an ode to that restaurant and to those golden days!
Green Peas Pulao 🎥
History and Health Benefits
Matar Pulao is made in our house all around the year but traditionally it is a winter recipe. The reason is, in India, freshly grown green peas are usually harvested sometime in November (winter time) and are available for consumption. That is why recipes with green peas like Matar ka Nimona were prepared mainly during winter.
This was of course before the concept of frozen veggies. Today we get seasonal fruits and vegetables even when it's not in season, thanks to them being frozen. We can now enjoy them all year through. I always have a bag of frozen peas in our freezer because I add them to many recipes like curries, rice, snacks like Cilantro Poha, Peas Spinach Pastry Puffs, and pasta!
Including green peas or matar in the diet are very beneficial. They are high in starch or complex carbs while being low in calories, and rich in fiber (aids in digestion), protein, and vitamins. They tend to keep you full for longer and also help in curbing mid-meal cravings.
Difference between Pulao and Biryani
BTW, most people use the terms Pulao and Biryani interchangeably. However, the two are not the same despite rice being the main ingredient. The cooking methods used are different. To cook Pulao, the spices and raw rice are both sauteed together and then we add the water and cook the Pulao on a medium to high flame. The water is absorbed by the rice and the veggies when cooking. Pulao is usually mildly flavored and light on spices. You can also make pulao using leftover cooked rice. It's a quick fix!
Biryani on the other hand uses a 'layering' system. The veggies and rice are cooked separately. The rice is partially cooked, and the water is drained. The vessel (usually cast iron or earthen pot) is first layered with the partially cooked rice, then a layer of the veggies or meat is added, followed by a layer of fried onions. The vessel is sealed and the Biryani is slow-cooked on a low flame.
Note the absence of water when cooking a Biryani. Biryani is usually more heavy on spices (cardamom, cinnamon sticks, cloves, etc.) and is more aromatic than Pulao. There are many quick versions of biryani like Soya Chunks Biryani which is one of my favorite biryani recipes.
Why make this
- Indian rice and peas recipe
- Vegan and gluten-free rice recipe
- Can be made in 30 minutes
- One-pot North Indian-style meal
- Frozen peas and leftover rice can be used
- Can be made ahead of time
- Minimal chopping involved
- A restaurant-style dish
- Is healthy
- Very flavorful and appetizing
- Pairs well with curry, dal, or raita
Ingredients needed 🧾
Rice - Since this is a pulao recipe, we need the grains to be long, and separate. That's why aromatic and aged Basmati rice works best in such recipes. But you can use any other variety of grains (except Jasmine Rice). The need to be of non-sticky variety and can be long-grained or medium-grained rice.
Soak them for 15-20 minutes before cooking as it helps remove the starch that causes the rice to be clumpy and once the rice is cooked transfer to a plate, spread it out so that all the excess moisture dries up. Then use this recipe.
Green peas - Fresh or frozen green peas can be used. If using dry peas, soak them overnight and then cook them in a pressure cooker for 15-20 minutes. After being cooked, they should not turn mushy but should hold their shape. Canned peas can also be used.
Coconut - Freshly grated coconut is mostly used but you can also use dry unsweetened coconut flakes, shreds, or even desiccated coconut.
Spices - mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, cumin powder, and garam masala are the basic spices that you will need to make this rice dish.
Other ingredients - ginger, garlic, cilantro, onion, jalapeno, and cashews are other ingredients that will make this green peas masala pulao delicious.
How to make it 🔪
How to cook rice
You can either cook the rice along with the spices and matar or use leftover/precooked rice if you are short on time. In today's recipe, I have used precooked rice that's cooked in coconut milk. I soaked Basmati rice for 20 minutes and then cooked it. I used a 1:1 ratio of coconut milk and water when cooking the rice.
You can cook the rice in the Instant Pot, Rice Cooker, Indian Pressure Cooker, Microwave, or on the stovetop. Just remember to not overcook it. We need the grains to be separate and not mushy. Cook the rice for a couple of hours before you plan to make the Matar pulao. If using last night's cooked rice that's been chilling in the fridge, then just warm it in the microwave by spreading it out on a plate and sprinkling water on top.
How to make the pulao using leftover rice
- Dry roast coconut, onions, ginger, garlic, green chillies, or jalapenos, and cashews until slightly charred. Take it off the flame and allow it to cool down and then grind it to make a smooth paste.
- Heat oil in a pan and once it's hot, temper mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once they begin to crackle (in about 10 seconds), add chopped cilantro and chopped onions. Saute till the onions turn translucent.
- Immediately add the ground paste to the pan. Fry this for a minute or two.
- Then add green peas and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add the spice mixes like turmeric powder, cumin powder, and garam masala. Fry this for another minute or till the masala is cooked.
- Finally, add the cooked rice and give it a good toss so that all the masala coats the rice well. Garnish peas pulao with some chopped cilantro and serve.
How to cook rice and peas together
Follow all the steps above. The only difference is, add soaked rice instead of cooked rice. For every 1 cup of rice, add 1.5 cups of water or stock. Cover with a lid and cook the pulao undisturbed on low heat until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. This could take 20-25 minutes. Then remove it from the flame and let it rest for 5 minutes. Using a fork, fluff the rice.
Instant Pot version
Prepare the homemade ground masala. There is no need to soak the rice. In saute mode, add all the ingredients one after the other. Instead of just adding water to cook the rice, add an equal portion of water and coconut milk. Then hit cancel. Close with the lid.
Select the Rice mode which will automatically cook it for 12 minutes on low pressure. You can also select manual mode and cook it for 12 minutes. Release pressure naturally. Open the lid and fluff the rice using a fork. Similarly, you can also make this Veg Peas Pulav in a traditional Indian Pressure cooker if you don't have an Instant Pot.
This hot one-pot Indian Matar Pulao can be enjoyed by itself or served with a yogurt dip like Boondi Burani Raita, Beets Peanut Raita, Koshimbir, Dal, or just a bowl of plain curd, and some papad. Sprinkle some fried onions on top to notch up the flavors. Add some lemon juice or a blob of butter on top to prevent clumping.
The best side dish for Peas Rice is Mirchi Ka Salan. Even a bowl of tomato soup pairs well with this spiced rice. This simple Indian rice dish is one of the easiest side dishes for everyday cooking. Matar Chawal also makes for a great lunchbox recipe, for weekend meals, brunch, potlucks, parties, or festive meals. This Indian rice dish with peas is so flavorful and delicious, that you will fall in love with it!
Top recipe tips📖
If you are following a Jain lifestyle or simply don't like the flavor, you can make a simple green peas pulao without onion and garlic. It will still taste good. Fresh peas taste the best in this recipe, but of course, frozen peas or canned pigeon peas can be used. Cook rice in vegetable stock to give it more flavor. Keep the spice level low if making it for kids.
Paneer, tomato, potatoes/aloo, eggplants, carrot, zucchini, soya nuggets, mushrooms, sweetcorn, or baby corn can be added to this vegetarian pulao to make it more wholesome. You can also add some fried onions, cashews/kaju, or peanuts if you want to give this vegan peas pilaf a crunch. Add some mint to give this simple pulao an aromatic flavor.
To make it protein rich, add cubes of paneer, tofu, chickpeas, or soya chunks. Feel free to add some greens like spinach/palak, methi or baby kale leaves. If you have some leftover rice, here are some other recipes where you can use them - Tomato rice, Bell Pepper Rice, Coconut Rice, Yogurt Rice, Phodnicha Bhaat, Mint Pistachio Rice, and Tendli Masala Bhat.
Brown Basmati rice can be used instead of white rice to make this pulao. For a low-carb option, use cauliflower rice or millet like quinoa.
You can make this matar pulao ahead of time. It stays well in the fridge for 4-5 days. It also freezes well. Thaw it overnight in the fridge and then reheat it in the microwave.
If you have cooked white rice leftover from the day before, you can use it to make this Matar Pulao. This dish actually tastes great when made using old, cooked rice. When using chilled leftover rice, then you can warm it in the microwave. Just sprinkle some water on it before heating it. This helps the rice stay moist.
If you prepare this peas dish using freshly cooked rice - always soak raw rice in water for 30 minutes and then cook it. This will guarantee that the rice is fluffy and the grains are long and separated.
Premium quality Basmati or any long-grain rice is always preferred when making such rice-based dishes. Use rice: water ratio of 1:2. For one cup of rice, I add 2 cups of water.
More recipes with green peas
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Ingredients to make ground paste
Ingredients to make the Green Peas Pulao
- 2 cups cooked basmati rice
- 1 tablespoon oil/butter/ghee
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 tablespoon cilantro chopped
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 2 teaspoon garam masala
- Salt as required
- 2 tablespoon Cilantro for garnish chopped
To make ground paste
- Dry roast coconut, onions along with ginger, garlic, jalapeno and cashews till they begin to get slightly charred. Take it off the flame and allow it cool. Then grind it into a smooth paste by adding little water.
To make the Green Peas Pulao
- Soak Basmati rice for 30 minutes, strain and then cook it in water. I prefer to cook rice either in my Instant Pot or Rice Cooker. If using leftover rice, just warm it in the microwave and spread it out on a plate.
- Heat oil in a pan and once its hot, temper mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once they begin to crackle (in about 10 seconds), add chopped cilantro and chopped onions. Saute till the onions turn translucent.
- Immediately add the ground paste to the pan. Fry this for a minute or two.
- Then add green peas and continue to cook till for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add the spice mixes like Homemade Turmeric Powder, Cumin Powder and Garam Masala. Fry this for another minute or till the masala is cooked.
- Finally add the cooked rice and give it a good toss so that all the masala coats the rice well. Garnish with some chopped cilantro and serve.