Matar Pulao – we have here a much loved pair. Comfort food at potentially its purest and most wholesome. Something the kids (usually, depending on their mood) love. Economical. Quick and easy to prepare. Just generally an all-round winner.
My recipe comes together quickly, doesn’t require the contents of your whole entire spice cabinet and tastes like a warm hug! Caramelised onions, warming spices like cloves and cinnamon, fluffy and fragrant basmati rice – what’s not to love?
Matar Pulao, rice cooked with peas and onions, has always been a favourite at my Mother’s house. My Mother would cook this to serve alongside a delicious Chicken Shorba or Aloo Gosht, or sometimes with some Shami Kebabs or Aloo Tikkis and we would always gobble our plates down and greedily ask for seconds.
What really makes this recipe a die-for affair is the sweet pops of flavour the peas provide us with. Kids tend to love peas and since this is a relatively mild, non-spicy recipe, Matar Pulao is ideal for younger children.
What makes Matar Pulao so darn good?
- It comes under the highly rankings of good ol’ Pakistani comfort food. Y’know, them lofty levels that include Aloo Gosht and Aloo Keema? Yeah, those ranks.
- It’s just so wholesome! Like, does it get more pure and wholesome than peas and rice?
- It’s quick, comes together with very little active time. The only real active ‘work’ you’ll be doing is frying the onions.
- Super duper convenient. Like, we’re talking frozen peas, onions and rice. Literally, when it comes to Desi home-cooked food from scratch, this is as convenient as things get
- It’s cheap! Fill those bellies for less! Win!
- Keeps in the fridge great too. It’s winning alllllll the points for being efficient and economical
- Who doesn’t like peas? *silence*
- You can serve it with literally ANYTHING, yet you can also serve it with NOTHING except yogurt and you’re good.
Matar Pulao, you bring SO much goodness to the table.
How do you make a good Matar Pulao?
We start off by frying some finely sliced onions in oil.
Once they are a shade of gold, add in some cloves, cinnamon and bay leaf. Continue to fry the onions till they become a darker shade of brown.
Next we’ll add in the peas. I use frozen peas for this recipe. We’ll just stir-fry these until they defrost.
Once the peas are defrosted, add in some water, whole green chillies and salt. Quantities are listed in the recipe card below.
Once the water comes to a boil, we will add some basmati rice. Ensure the basmati rice has been washed thoroughly and soaked for at least half an hour before using.
Allow the basmati rice to cook with everything over a high heat, stirring once or twice gently to ensure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Once the water has been absorbed by the water, the rice should be about 80% cooked with just a slight bite to it. Turn the heat down to the lowest it can go, place a tight fitted lid (lining it with a clean tea towel or some foil is recommended) on top and cook the rice for 10-15 minutes. This process is called dum (steaming) in Urdu.
Once the steaming process is done, fluff the rice up well even if you do not intend to eat the rice immediatly.
The importance of getting the onions right
Matar Pulao starts with frying onions in a pot until deep brown. The frying stage of any Pulao is really important – it’s what ensures the flavour of the entire dish is deep, rich and has that characteristic Pulao flavour.
If you don’t fry your onions enough, your Pulao will remain light-coloured and not take on much deep flavour. You’ll have raw, white and sad looking onions hanging around in your rice. Not cool.
If you fry your onions too much and they end up burnt, your rice will likely become bitter, they also may become too dark and then there will obviously be black stringy bits of onion hanging around like unwanted guests. Again, not cool.
Getting the right level of fried goodness is paramount. The ideal way to get to this stage is to fry the onions on a medium-high heat, stirring often and ensuring you stay close to make sure they don’t get too brown. It’s a small labour of love but a labour well worth it.
The rest of the Pulao making business is pretty simple and straight-forward. I have a post on how to make the best Pulao rice here for more tips which can be used to help you with other Pulaos too!
How to get your basmati rice perfect
Sometimes getting the texture of the basmati rice fluffy, soft and getting the grains separate is the biggest struggle when making pilau. Here are my top tips for ensuring perfectly cooked rice.
- Purchase a good quality, extra long grain basmati rice. Some of my favourite UK based brands include Shama basmati, East End royal basmati, Tilda XL and Daawat basmati rice
- Take special care to wash the rice well and then soak it for a minimum of half an hour. This helps remove the startch from the rice and helps keep the grains separate
- I have a full, detailed YouTube video about how to cook the perfect basmati rice here. It’s definitely worth a watch if you struggle in this area
- It can take some time getting used to the delicate nature of basmati rice. If you are struggling to get things right despite these tips, consider using sella basmati rice. Sella basmati rice is notoriously difficult to overcook or break, making it a good alternative to regular basmati rice.
Some alterations you can make to Pea Pilau to suit your needs
I’m all for altering recipes so they suit you better! And the great thing about this recipe is that it’s just so easy and simple and it just does so well with these additions too. Feel free to change things up!
- You can add other vegetables to this recipe too – ideally you want to use vegetables that are either pre-cooked, frozen and cooked vegetables work too. This can become a vegetable Pulao in this way
- This recipe contains just 2 whole green chillies but this is not in any way, shape or form a spicy recipe. If you would like to increase the spice however, increase the green chillies to 6-7, or alternatively you can chop the green chillies when adding them to infuse some heat
- Adding potatoes into this recipe also works great! Throw in a few potatoes chopped in small-sized cubes around half-way through frying the onions so that they cook through. You’ll need to increase the salt to compensate for this addition
- Don’t have onions? Or, you want to switch things up? Try frying leeks or spring onions instead!
How can I serve Pea Pulao?
Here are some ideas for how you can serve your pea pulao:
- For a super simple and basic dinner, serve alongside a salad, some plain yogurt or raita and kebabs, such as my Aloo Tikki or Chapli Kebab
- Pea pulao goes great alongside a curry with a soupy base, such as Aloo Gosht or Chicken Salan
- Here’s the beauty of Pea Pulao – it’s such a people-pleaser dish that it goes pretty fab with dry-style curries too, such as Bhuna Chicken or Fish Bhuna
- This is a great side dish to a roast chicken or roast lamb/beef too
- Something we often had at home was this alongside homemade fried chicken. It’s lush, I tell you!
Lets get onto the recipe now!
Enjoy, with love x
Matar Pilau | Pea Pulao
- 1/4 cup oil
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 9 whole cloves
- 1 small stick cinnamon
- 2 green whole chillies (optional)
- 1.5 cups frozen peas
- 3 cups white basmati rice, (wash and soak for half an hr before using)
- 3.5 tsp salt, or to taste
- In a pot, heat up the oil and add the sliced onions. Once they become golden, add the cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon stick. Continue to fry the onions till they become dark gold.
- Add the peas and stir fry them till they defrost
- Add the water and salt, and bring to a boil
- Add the basmati rice
- Cook on high heat till all the water has dried out. Stir gently once or twice with a slotted spoon
- Once the water has dried out, turn the heat to the lowest setting possible, cover the pot and allow the rice to steam for 15 minutes.
- Fluff well once the rice is done, even if you don't intend to have the rice straight away to prevent it from getting clumpy
If you'd like to spice this up, you can either chop the green chillies up or increase the quantity
Sunday 22nd of January 2023
Brilliant! Perfect every time, always nervous about the ratios but this is spot on! Thank you Fatima x
Tuesday 7th of March 2023
So happy to hear!
Tuesday 6th of July 2021
Do you mean add 4 cups of water when it’s 3 cups of rice. I was always told to Double the water according to the cup of rice
Monday 15th of March 2021
What is 4 cups for where it says salt and rice. and what is measurement 1/4 pls
Tuesday 25th of August 2020
Super easy recipe resulting in delicious muttar pilau - thank you!
Wednesday 19th of June 2019