This is an amazingly simple recipe with basmati rice and green peas. People often wonder what ‘pulao’ means. It is basically cooking rice using the absorption method. While preparing pulao, the amount of water is completely absorbed by the rice and vegetables and this makes the rice even more flavoursome.
We call this dish ‘matar wale chawal’ in Hindi. ‘Matar’ is ‘peas’ in Hindi and hence simply translates to peas pulao. In India we heavily rely on seasonal fruit and vegetables as they are fresher and sweeter in season. Peas pulao or matar pulao is a popular dish especially during winter months in northern parts of India.
I remember peas pulao were made at least twice in a week during winters. Peas were then used in almost every dish and my mother would often make ‘matar ka paratha’, ‘matar ki kadhi’, ‘aloo matar ki subji’, ‘sukhi matar ki subji’, ‘matar ki kachori’ and the list goes on!
Fortunately, I have continued this tradition and I make lots of peas dishes in winters. This is one of my husbands favourite dishes hence I make it often at home and if fresh peas are not available then I use frozen peas.
If you are new to Indian cooking, I would highly recommend this dish as it is super easy and fool proof. Simply serve this dish with ‘raita’ or any curry!
Wash the rice in running water at least 3 times. Soak the rice in double the amount of water for about an hour.
Drain the soaked rice.
Heat ghee in a pan and add cumin seeds and bay leaf. When the cumin seeds begin to crackle, add the drained rice and peas, and salt and sauté very gently.
Add water and cover and let it cook for 5 minutes on low heat.
Add garam masala and black pepper in it and stir it gently and cover once again.
Cook for about 7 minutes on low flame.
After 7 minutes all water should have been absorbed. Fluff the rice using a fork and its ready to be served!
Tips & Variations
1. Choose the right type of rice. I would highly recommend choosing the best quality basmati rice or any long grain rice for this dish.
2. It is particularly important to prepare the rice well which means rinsing the rice at least three times till the water is clear. This helps to clear the excess starch and will make the rice non sticky.
3. I always recommend soaking the rice for an hour or if you are short of time then at least for 20 to 25 minutes because well soaked rice will expand and cook well and each strand of rice will be long and fluffy.
4. While tempering, do not let the cumin seeds go darker in colour as it will give a burnt flavour.
5. The rice needs exceptionally light hand while mixing.
6. Although traditionally this recipe is made with basmati rice you can use any type of rice like long grain rice, brown rice, or Spanish rice.
7. Stir the dish very gently so as not to break the rice.
8. The quantity of water is always double the quantity of rice. So, if you are making 1 cup rice you will need 2 cups of water.
9. You can add black pepper and garam masala while adding salt. I like to add the spices halfway as it enhances the flavour and gives an aroma to the pulao.
10. If fresh peas are not available, frozen peas can also be used.
11. If you are adding frozen peas, then soak them in warm water for 10 minutes to totally defrost before using in the recipe.
12. You can add some diced potatoes too while making the pulao.
13. My mother sometimes used to put raisins and it gives the pulao a sweet flavour. If you add raisins, then add 3-4 tablespoons of raisins at the time of adding peas.
14. You can also sauté, one thinly slices onion when you add cumin. Onions gives a smokey, sweet flavour to the rice.
15. You can use butter/ oil instead of ghee.
16. You can sprinkle some finely chopped coriander or even mint before serving.
17. Cover the pan tightly with a lid while cooking the rice.
18. Once you turn off the heat, the rice continues to cook with the residual heat. So, I would suggest taking the lid off to allow some heat to escape. However, if you feel the rice is slightly undone then leave it covered for 5 minutes. On the contrary if you feel that the rice has not cooked completely you can add a few more tablespoons of water and cover and cook the rice for a few minutes.