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Spice-Scented Peas Pilaf (Peas Pulao)

by Suneeta Vaswani

Serves 8

Pulao is synonymous with pilaf, and this is the simplest of the genre. It is also one of the most delicious — good not only with Indian dishes but equally compatible with non-Indian entrées. It is very quick and easy to prepare.


2 cups    Indian basmati rice 500 mL
2 tbsp    vegetable oil 25 mL
1    cinnamon stick, 2 inches (5 cm) long  1
6    whole cloves  6
2    bay leaves    2
1 cup     finely sliced onion (about 1)     250 mL
1 cup     frozen peas   250 mL
2 tsp     salt or to taste   10 mL

1.   Place rice in a bowl with plenty of cold water and swish vigorously with fingers. Drain. Repeat process
4 or 5 times until water is fairly clear. Cover with
3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) water and soak for at least 15 minutes or for up to 2 hours.
2.   In a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves. Sauté until cloves puff up, about 1 minute. Add onion and sauté until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
3.   Drain rice and stir into onions. Add peas and mix well. Add 31⁄2 cups (875 mL) cold water and salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to
as low as possible and cook, covered, for 25 minutes, without peeking.
4.   Remove from heat and set lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. Let rest for 5 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick, cloves and bay leaves, if desired. Gently fluff with fork and carefully spoon onto platter to serve.

The grains of rice are very fragile when they are just cooked. Gently spoon onto a platter, taking care not to break up the grains or else the rice will be mushy.

Recipes reprinted with permission from Easy Indian Cooking, by Suneeta Vaswani, Robert Rose Inc., 2004. Photos by Mark T. Shapiro.

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