Vegetable Rice Pilaf

This Indian-style vegetable rice pilaf is a great one-pot meal that’s perfect for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. This dish is super adaptable to whatever vegetables you have on hand and makes a satisfying plant-based main or a tasty side dish!

Vegetable rice pilaf served in a bowl and garnished with cilantro and toasted cashews.

Some of my favourite recipes are super simple ingredients cooked in a clever combination of spices to make a total flavour bomb. This vegan curried rice with raisins, chickpeas and cilantro is a great recipe that smells wonderfully as it’s cooking and makes a great base for a Buddha bowl.

This vegetable rice pilaf is another one of those recipes. Basmati rice and a selection of vegetables are simmered together in a mix of fragrant spices then garnished with toasted cashews and fresh cilantro. Not only is this vegan dish easy to make, it’s also ready in less that 30 minutes!

Vegetable rice pilaf viewed from above with grilled flatbread on the side.

For this vegetable rice pilaf recipe came about as a way to use up some leftover veggies I had in my fridge. I’ve used cauliflower, sweet potato, carrot, green beans and peas. Feel free to change up the vegetables based on what you have handy; any combination of veggies would be delicious in the pilaf!

This time I chose to serve my vegetable pilaf with some grilled flatbread. I didn’t happen to have any vegan yogurt handy but if you do I recommend making this vegan naan recipe to accompany this recipe.

Vegetable rice pilaf served in a bowl with a fork in it and grilled flatbread.

Another great accompaniment for rice-based dishes is a dhal. This easy vegan dal recipe can be made with yellow or red lentils and you can leave it simmering away while you chop the veggies for this vegetable rice pilaf. Pilaf, dhal and naan is my idea of a perfect meal!

Wanna see how easy it is to make this vegetable rice pilaf? Watch the video and share it on Facebook!

Vegetable rice pilaf served in a bowl and garnished with cilantro and toasted cashews.

Vegetable Rice Pilaf

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This Indian-style vegetable rice pilaf is a great one-pot meal that’s perfect for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. This dish is super adaptable to whatever vegetables you have on hand and makes a satisfying plant-based main or a tasty side dish!


  • 1 ½ cups (300 grams) basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 green chili, finely diced
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder or ground cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala*
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ cups (150 grams) chopped cauliflower
  • 12 green beans, cut into thirds
  • ¼ cup (40 grams) frozen peas
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 cups (750 ml) water
  • 1 lemon
  • A small bunch of cilantro
  • A handful of cashews, toasted


  1. Wash the rice in fresh water three times. Leave it to soak in a bowl covered with water while you prepare the veggies.
  2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the cumin. When the cumin darkens in colour and is fragrant – about a minute – add the onion. Fry until transparent.
  3. Add the bay, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, ginger and chili pepper. Fry, stirring, until the garlic and ginger is cooked through – about 30 seconds. Add the chili powder, turmeric and garam masala and continue frying, stirring constantly, for about another 30 seconds to cook out the spices. If it sticks to the pan add a bit more oil.
  4. Add the vegetables, salt and water. Bring to a boil then drain the rice and add it to the pan. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 8 – 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the rice is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat but don’t uncover it. Leave it to steam for 5 more minutes.
  5. Uncover the pan and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon. Fluff the rice with a fork and remove the cinnamon and bay leaves (and the cloves if you can find them!).
  6. Serve the pilaf garnished with chopped cilantro, toasted cashews and an extra slice of lime on the side.


*For a homemade mix try this garam masala recipe .

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 421Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 788mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 7gSugar: 8gProtein: 16g

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  • Reply
    July 28, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    Made this last night and it was DELICIOUS! Predicting I will make it again in the next couple of weeks. I do wish the recipe stated what kind of pan to use as I guessed, fortunately correctly, and used a large pot.

  • Reply
    August 12, 2018 at 1:29 am

    Question – how does the recipe change if you want to use brown rice?

    • Reply
      August 22, 2018 at 7:48 pm

      The cook time will be longer. And keep and eye on it so that it doesn’t dry out – add more liquid if it’s needed.

  • Reply
    January 10, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    Great recipe – however next time I will replace the 3 cups water with 3 cups vegan chicken stock. I followed this recipe to the letter but was a little disappointed that it really lacked flavour which was surprising given the amount of spices and herbs. I ended up adding about 2 tbs of stock powder, more salt and almost double the lemon. Thanks for sharing the recipe though, I am looking forward to trying something else to cook from your website as your recipes all look very nice.

  • Reply
    April 1, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    Hi, I have made this several times and it is my go to recipe for vegetable pilaf, and as an South Asian raised in an Indian cuisine consuming household I’m saying that, it’s an amazing recipe. However, I’m now considering making this with frozen mixed veggies, would that be possible and how? Do I add veggies at the same point or once rice is cooked?

    • Reply
      April 4, 2020 at 4:25 pm

      So glad you enjoy the recipe! Since frozen veggies are already par-cooked, I would wait to add them until the rice is about half to 3/4 done. That way they should have time to defrost but won’t turn to mush (hopefully)!

  • Reply
    Mafeesh Moushkella
    June 5, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious and a lot easier than the list of ingredients would have you believe.

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