SIMPLE MATAR PULAO (Green Peas Pilaf)
Matar Pulao is a very classic South Asian dish made with caramelized onions, spices and green peas. This is the perfect side that is served along with many Pakistani and Indian curries.
WHAT IS MATAR PULAO?
Matar is the Urdu and Hindi word for green peas. Pulao’s are rice dishes of South Asian, Central Asian and Middle Eastern origin. The recipe for pulao is usually made with rice, meat, chicken and vegetables, but can also be made plain. It’s got aromatics, whole and powdered spices and can be cooked in water or stock. Pulao’s can be sweet and savory with the addition of dry fruits and nuts. Many recipes will use basmati rice, resulting in rice that is so aromatic and fluffy.
This is the ultimate classic and comfort rice dish that I grew up eating and have passed down to my kids. It’s always on rotation on our weekly menu. This is a great beginner’s recipe to make if you are trying to perfect your rice making skills because it’s easy and delicious.
Don’t shy away from the recipe if you are missing an ingredient or two. I feel like Pakistani recipes are very forgiving. Many times, it’s not the ingredients but the technique and method you want to focus on. Below are some details about this recipe that will help you make this delish Matar pulao.
LET’S TALK ABOUT RICE
Everyone has got some different tips on how to cook the perfect rice. But few tips are mentioned every time.
- TYPE OF RICE: Best rice to use for this recipe and other pulao recipes is basmati rice. This is a long grain rice that is commonly grown in Pakistan, India, and the Himalayas. It’s aromatic and once cooked properly, it’s light, tender and fluffy. Basmati rice has varieties, so you have to try a few different brands.
- RINSE: Make sure to rinse the rice to get rid of extra starches. Rice should be soaked following the package instructions. Regular varieties of rice mention that soaking can be for around 20-30 minutes. You can cook basmati rice without soaking.
- RICE & WATER RATIO: Standard ratio of rice to water is 1 cup of rice to 1 ½ cups of water. But depending on the variety of rice and soaking ratios will be different. It can also depend on how you prefer the cooked texture of your rice. Some may even do 1 ¾-2 cups of water for 1 cup of rice.
- TIGHT FITTING LID: You want a tight-fitting lid so there is no escape of steam. We want to create the steam so the rice turns out tender and fluffy and that will happen with the steam. If the lid is not fitting tight you can wrap the lid with foil. I wrap the lid with a clean kitchen towel. If using the kitchen towel be very careful of the flame not being high.
- DON’T PEEK: Once you cover the rice to cook, do not open the lid. Always check the rice towards the end of cooking time. Once the timer has gone off, still let the rice sit with the lid on. Gently fluff the rice with a fork or using a flat spatula
ONIONS: Onions give an amazing flavor to Matar pulao. You really want to be patient browning the onions until they get brown.
PEAS: I always end up using frozen sweet peas because that is what I have on hand. If you can use fresh green peas. Don’t skip the step of giving these a sear, this really adds flavor.
WHOLE & POWDERED SPICES: The spices I have used are very standard when it comes to Pakistani cooking. You can add more or less according to your preference.
STORAGE & REHEATING: Rice can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consumed within 3-4 days. You can reheat this Matar pulao in the microwave or stovetop. Sprinkling some water on the rice will make it tender again.
SIMPLE MATAR PULAO (Green Peas Pilaf)
- 1 cup basmati rice (rinsed and soaked)
- 3 tbsp. light olive oil
- 1 tsp. cumin seeds
- few cloves
- few brown cardamom
- bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3-4 black peppercorns
- 1 tsp. salt (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 tsp. garam masala
- 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1 small onion (sliced)
- Use a medium nonstick pot for rice. Have everything ready before you start.
- On medium heat add oil and add all the whole spices that is cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and peppercorns. Let these sizzle in the oil about 10-15 seconds. Make sure to not let these burn.
- Add the sliced onion, and sauté till the onions get a medium brown color, this will take about 5 minutes.
- Add peas and sauté for about 5 minutes. Keep stirring.
- Add salt, garam masala and cumin powder, mix well and let these spices sear for few seconds. Add about 1/4 cup of water and let this mixture boil for about 5 minutes, to extract all the onion flavor.
- Add rinsed drained rice and 1 1/2 cups of water, mix well. With heat still on medium let it come to a boil. After about 3 minutes much of water will have evaporated. Now cover the pot with a tight lid and turn the heat to the lowest setting. Let the rice cook without checking for about 15-20 minutes. Turn flame off and let the rice sit without opening the lid if you don't need to serve right away. Gently fluff with a fork or spatula.