Peas and rice – we have here a much loved pair. Inoffensive. Easy to like. Something the kids (usually, depending on their mood) love. Just generally all-round winners.
Lets pair that with some soft, caramelised fried onions and aromatic cloves and cinnamon. We have here a winning combination and a classic Pakistani favourite.
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 fried chicken 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.
My husband, strangely, doesn’t like peas (amongst many other things). I’m putting things very lightly here – the truth is my husband HATES peas and he RARELY eat anything with peas in them. Thus, I haven’t cooked Matar Pulao much since getting married. In fact – a browse through all the recipes I’ve posted on the blog will show you that peas make a scarce appearance in my cooks.
Just this past weekend, however, my family was holidaying in Paris for the new year and I received a message from my Father saying ‘I’ve been craving some hot and meaty Pakistani food! Please cook a chicken meat curry and some pea rice when we come back!’ Turns out, they had been living off croissants and cold sandwiches in Paris and had been dying for a hot Desi meal! So, thus after many months, I cooked a dish with peas in it. And that, my friends, is how a recipe with peas has made it’s way onto my blog.
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? No one. Except my husband
- 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?
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. Additionally, 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 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!
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
- If you prefer some chilli, add in a few green chillis around the same time you add the peas
- 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
- 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 full-fat yogurt or raita and kebabs, such as my Aloo Tikki
- 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
EDIT: I have amended the quantity of water used in this recipe to 3 cups of water. Previously, it was vague and not precise and some readers reported trouble getting the quantity right. I have found 3 cups works perfectly with this recipe HOWEVER, if you would like to increase or decrease the amount of water needed, use this formula: Cups of water needed = Cups of rice + 1
- 1/4 cup oil
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 3 tsp cumin seeds
- 9 whole cloves
- 1 small stick cinnamon
- 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 a very dark brown.
- Add the peas and stir fry them till they defrost
- Add the basmati rice, salt and 4 cups.
- Cook on high heat till all the water has dried out. Stir 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. Allow the rice to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
If you'd like to spice this up, add a few green chillis around the same time you add your peas.