Basmati Rice and Pea Pilaf (Peas Pulao) Recipe

Gently spiced and toasted rice, studded with sweet green peas.

Basmati rice and pea pilaf, served on a white plate.

Serious Eats / Denise D'silva Sankhé

Why This Recipe Works

  • Briefly frying the cloves and cinnamon infuses the ghee, which then coats and flavors the rice.

Almost every meal I remember fondly has had rice playing a significant role in it. Like most Indians, I have it every day. Sometimes three times a day. And in all this time, never once have I ever tired of it. The countless rice recipes in Indian cuisine and the various side-dishes that rice plays a perfect canvas to probably have something to do with it.

Families usually buy rice by the sackful. A few hundred pounds to last the year. And a lot of care is taken to source the perfectly aged grain. The older it is, the better. The last few weeks have seen the cool winds recede and the heat making itself comfortable. Summer is here. Which means only one thing: The last harvest of fresh peas needs to find a way to my table before I have to settle for the frozen ones through the rest of the year.

With plenty of rice at hand, I thought there's no better way to say farewell to these emerald morsels than with mutter pulao (rice cooked with peas). The subtle, fragrant spices coat the rice, and the peas add a wonderful sweet burst to the dish.

It's a recipe full of nostalgia for me, because we'd eat it often as children. My brother and I would hastily pick out the succulent peas as soon as the pulao was served and each of us would vie for the bigger haul, when no one was looking.

All sibling rivalry would be forgotten as soon as we started eating, of course. It's one of those dishes that make you too happy to snitch.

So tonight, peas pulao it is. Yet another meal to reminisce.

March 2012

This recipe was updated in 2023 to reduce the amount of water called for.

Recipe Details

Basmati Rice and Pea Pilaf (Peas Pulao) Recipe

Active 15 mins
Total 35 mins
Serves 4 servings

Gently spiced and toasted rice, studded with sweet green peas.


  • 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil

  • 4 to 5 whole cloves

  • 1-inch stick cinnamon

  • 4 to 5 small green chiles, slit lengthwise

  • 2 medium onions sliced thin (about 2 cups)

  • 2 cups basmati rice, washed well in several changes of cold water, then drained thoroughly

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin powder

  • 4 cups water

  • Kosher salt


  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add cloves and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add chillies and onions and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until nutty, about 2 minutes. Add peas and cumin powder and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute longer. Add water and salt, bring to a boil, and reduce to lowest heat setting. Cover with lid and allow to cook until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Serve hot with dal or raita.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
232 Calories
7g Fat
37g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 232
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 10%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 252mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 13%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 35mg 177%
Calcium 60mg 5%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 300mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)