Simple Pakistani Rice Pulao Recipe (One Pot Yakhni Pulao)

Pakistani Rice Pulao is a traditional Pakistani rice dish that is made in one pot and comes together in under 45 minutes. I am a crazy fan of rice even though I can eat them 7 days a week.

Pakistani Rice Pulao combines fragrant Basmati rice with a medley of spices and tender meat or vegetables. 

Pakistani Rice Pulao

Imagine a pot bubbling with Basmati rice, each grain of rice soaked in the goodness of aromatic spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. Picture tender pieces of chicken, beef, mutton, or peas(matar pulao or green peas pulao, chana pulao) nestled among the grains.

Pakistani basmati rice recipe is easy and convenient to make, requiring just a handful of ingredients and a single pot.

You can try our more Pakistani dishes like Pakistani Butter Chicken RecipeEasy Pakistani Keema Recipe (Bhuna Keema Recipe), and Crispy Pakistani Pakora Recipe (Potato Fritters).


Rice Pulao, often simply referred to as Pulao or yakhni pulao, is a popular dish in South Asian cuisine, including Pakistani cuisine. It is made by cooking basmati rice with a variety of spices, meats, vegetables, or both, resulting in a flavorful and aromatic one-pot meal.

Unlike biryani, another famous rice dish in South Asia, Pulao is typically less complex in preparation and lighter in flavor. While biryani involves layering partially cooked rice with marinated meat and cooking them together, Pulao involves cooking everything together in one pot from start to finish.

The key to a good Pulao lies in the quality of Basmati rice used and the combination of spices and ingredients added.


  1. Aromatic Delight: The moment you start cooking, your kitchen will be filled with the irresistible aroma of fragrant spices like cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaf, and cloves. The tscent alone will make your mouth water and set the stage for a perfect dining experience.
  2. Customizable to Your Taste: Whether you prefer chicken, beef, lamb, or a vegetarian option, this recipe offers endless possibilities for customization. You can also adjust the level of spice according to your preference, making it perfect for those who like their dishes mild or those who crave a bit of heat.
  3. Effortless: With just a few simple steps and minimal ingredients, you can create a dish that looks and tastes like it came straight from a gourmet restaurant. It’s the perfect choice for both busy weeknights and special occasions when you want to impress without spending hours in the kitchen.
  4. A Complete Meal in One Pot: With this Pakistani Rice Pulao recipe, everything cooks together in one pot, allowing the flavors to meld beautifully and saving you precious time on cleanup. Plus, with a balanced combination of protein, grains, and vegetables, you’ll have a nutritious and satisfying meal that’s ready to serve in no time.


  1. Basmati Rice: You will need 2 cups basmati rice known for its fragrance and fluffy texture.
  2. Chicken, Beef, or Lamb: You will need Chicken, beef, or lamb Protein of your choice, diced for a hearty meal, 500g.
  3. Red Onion: You will need 1 large red onion that adds sweetness and depth of flavor, thinly sliced.
  4. Garlic: You will need 4 cloves of garlic to add a savory taste.
  5. Ginger: You will need a 1-inch piece of grated ginger to add warmth and spice.
  6. Whole Spices: You will need Aromatic spices like a cinnamon stick (2), cardamom pods (3-4), cloves(6-7), black cardamom pod (1-2),  bay leaves(2), and black pepper corns (6-7) for flavoring.
  7. Turmeric Powder: You will need 1 tsp turmeric powder to add a vibrant yellow color and earthy flavor.
  8. Cumin Powder: You will need 1tsp cumin powder to add a warm, nutty flavor
  9. Coriander Powder: You will need 1 tsp coriander powder to add a citrusy, slightly sweet flavor.
  10. Salt: You will need salt to enhance the overall flavor of the dish
  11. Green Chillies:
  12. Vegetable Oil or Ghee: You will need ¼ cup ghee for sautéing and adds richness.
  13. Water or Chicken/Beef Broth: You will need 4 cups water or chicken/beef broth for cooking the rice.


Step 1: Prepare the Rice

To begin, rinse 2 cups of Basmati rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This helps remove excess starch from the rice, resulting in a fluffier texture once cooked. After rinsing, soak the rice in water for about 30 minutes. Soaking allows the rice to absorb moisture, ensuring that it cooks evenly. Once soaked, drain the rice thoroughly and set it aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

Step 2: Sauté the Aromatics

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil or ghee over medium heat. Add 1 large thinly sliced onion to the pot and sauté until it turns golden brown, which usually takes about 5-7 minutes. The caramelized onions will add a sweet richness to the dish. Once the onions are golden, add 4 minced cloves of garlic and 1-inch pieces of grated ginger to the pot. Sauté for another 1-2 minutes until the garlic and ginger become fragrant, infusing the oil with their flavors.

Step 3: Add Spices and Meat

Now it’s time to add the spices and meat to the pot. Add whole spices like cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves, black pepper corns, and bay leaves according to your taste preferences. These spices will impart a depth of flavor and aroma to the dish. Additionally, add ground spices 1 teaspoon each of turmeric powder, cumin powder, and coriander powder, stirring well to coat the onions and spices. Then, add 500g of diced chicken, beef, or lamb to the pot (you can also use chickpea or matar to make vegetable pulao), and cook until it’s browned on all sides. The spices will coat the meat, enhancing its flavor as it cooks.

Step 4: Cook the Rice

Once the meat is browned, add the drained-soaked rice to the pot. Gently stir the rice to coat it evenly with the spices and meat, ensuring that each grain is coated for maximum flavor. Next, pour in 4 cups of water or chicken stock/beef broth, making sure that the liquid covers the rice and meat completely. Season with salt to taste, keeping in mind that the broth already contains some salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid.

Step 5: Simmer and Serve

Allow the rice to simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through and all the liquid is absorbed. The steam trapped inside the pot will cook the rice to perfection, resulting in tender, fluffy grains. Once the rice is cooked, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Finally, fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains and remove any whole spices before serving. Pakistani Rice Pulao is now ready to be enjoyed as a delicious and comforting meal on its own or accompanied by yogurt, salad, or your favorite chutney.


When whipping up Pakistani Rice Pulao, maintain a gentle simmer over low heat post-boiling to prevent rice from sticking. Alternatively, opt for a quick boil over medium-high heat before lowering to a gentle simmer for thorough cooking. To infuse smoky flavors, consider grilling in foil packets over medium heat for about 20-25 minutes. Slow cookers provide convenience, allowing flavors to meld over hours on low heat, perfect for busy days. Lastly, for a speedy meal, utilize the Instant Pot’s high-pressure setting for 5-6 minutes, followed by a natural release for tender Pulao. Each method offers its twist, catering to varied tastes and schedules.


While the traditional stovetop method yields delicious results, there are alternative cooking methods you can explore to add variety to your Pakistani Rice Pulao preparation. Here are a few to consider:

  • Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker: Utilize the convenience of an Instant Pot or pressure cooker for a faster cooking time without compromising flavor. After sautéing the aromatics and spices, add the rice, protein, and liquid to the pot. Cook on high pressure for 5-6 minutes, then allow a natural release for 10 minutes before quick-releasing any remaining pressure.
  • Rice Cooker: Simplify the cooking process by using a rice cooker, especially if you’re preparing large batches of Pulao. Sauté the onions, garlic, and spices in a separate pan, then transfer them to the rice cooker along with the rinsed rice, protein, and broth.
  • Oven-Baked Pulao: Explore oven-baking as a hands-off method for preparing Pulao. Start by sautéing the aromatics and spices in an oven-safe pot or Dutch oven on the stovetop. Add the rice, protein, and liquid, then cover the pot tightly with foil or a lid. Transfer the pot to a preheated oven and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 25-30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through and the liquid is absorbed.


To store leftover Pakistani Rice Pulao, allow it to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. Refrigerate the Pulao for up to 3-4 days, ensuring it is tightly sealed to maintain freshness and prevent drying out.

When reheating, sprinkle a little water over the Pakistani Rice Pulao to add moisture, then gently heat it in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through. Avoid overheating to prevent the rice from becoming mushy, and enjoy the delicious flavors of Pakistani Rice Pulao as if freshly made.


  1. Instead of using water, consider using homemade chicken or beef broth to cook your Pulao. The broth adds an extra layer of flavor and richness to the dish.
  2. Before adding the spices to the pot, consider toasting them lightly in a dry skillet over medium heat.
  3. For a touch of sweetness and texture, consider adding nuts and dried fruits to your Pakistani Rice Pulao. Almonds, cashews, raisins, and dried apricots are all excellent choices.
  4. Just before serving, garnish your Pakistani Rice Pulao with a generous handful of fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, or parsley
  5. To complete your Pakistani Rice Pulao experience, serve it with traditional accompaniments like raita (a yogurt-based condiment) and pickles.


When serving Pakistani Rice Pulao, consider pairing it with refreshing accompaniments like cucumber raita, mint chutney, simple salad or a tangy pickle to complement its rich flavors.

For a complete meal, serve alongside grilled or roasted meats, such as tandoori chicken or seekh kebabs, for a satisfying protein boost.

Alternatively, enjoy Pakistani Rice Pulao as a standalone dish topped with crispy fried onions, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lemon juice for added brightness.

For a vegetarian option, pair Pakistani Rice Pulao with creamy lentil curry (dal) or mixed vegetable curry (sabzi) for a hearty and nutritious feast.


Can I use brown rice instead of Basmati rice for Pulao?

While Basmati rice is traditional for Pulao due to its fragrance and texture, you can substitute brown rice. Keep in mind that brown rice has a different cooking time and may require additional liquid and cooking time.

Can I make Pulao without meat?

Absolutely! Pulao can be made vegetarian by omitting the meat and increasing the amount of vegetables or adding protein-rich alternatives like tofu or chickpeas for a satisfying meal.

How do I prevent the rice from becoming mushy?

To prevent mushy rice, ensure you use the correct rice-to-liquid ratio and avoid stirring the rice too much during cooking. Additionally, let the Pulao rest for a few minutes after cooking before fluffing it with a fork.

Can I freeze leftover Pulao?

Yes, Pulao can be frozen for future enjoyment. Allow it to cool completely, then transfer it to airtight containers or freezer bags. Frozen Pulao can be reheated directly from frozen in the microwave or on the stovetop, but thawing in the refrigerator overnight may result in better texture.

How can I adjust the spiciness of Pulao?

Adjust the spiciness of Pulao to your taste by varying the amount of chili powder or omitting it altogether. You can also serve Pulao with a side of yogurt or raita to cool down the spice level.

Can I make Pulao in advance for a party?

Yes, Pulao is a great dish to make in advance for a party. Prepare it up to a day ahead, and then reheat it gently on the stovetop or in the microwave before serving. Adding a splash of water while reheating can help refresh the flavors and prevent drying out.


Experience the rich flavors of Pakistan with this aromatic and comforting Rice Pulao recipe. Fragrant Basmati rice cooked with tender meat and a blend of spices, Pulao is a staple dish that brings warmth to any table. Whether enjoyed on its own or as part of a festive spread, this Pulao is sure to delight your taste buds and transport you to the bustling streets of Pakistan.
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 5
Calories 350 kcal


  • Mixing spoon or spatula
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons


  • 2 cups Basmati Rice
  • 500 g Chicken, Beef, or Lamb
  • 1 large Onion
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 1-inch piece Ginger
  • Whole Spices: (Cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, bay leaves) for flavoring
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil or Ghee
  • 4 cups Water or Chicken/Beef Broth


  • Step 1: Prepare the Rice
    Rinse Basmati rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Soak rice in water for 30 minutes, then drain and set aside.
  • Step 2: Sauté the Aromatics
    1.    Heat vegetable oil or ghee in a large pot over medium heat.
    2.    Add sliced onion and sauté until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.
    3.    Add minced garlic and grated ginger, cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Step 3: Add Spices and Meat
    1.    Add whole spices,turmeric powder, cumin powder, and coriander powder to the pot. Stir well.
    2.    Add diced meat to the pot and cook until browned on all sides.
  • Step 4: Cook the Rice
    1.    Add drained Basmati rice to the pot and stir to coat with spices and meat.
    2.    Pour in water or broth, ensuring rice and meat are covered. Season with salt.
    3.    Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed.
  • Step 5: Serve
    Once the rice is cooked, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Finally, fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains and remove any whole spices before serving. Pakistani Rice Pulao is now ready to be enjoyed as a delicious and comforting meal on its own or accompanied by yogurt, salad, or your favorite chutney.


  • For extra flavor, toast whole spices before adding to the pot.
  • Adjust spice levels to taste preference by adding more or less chili powder.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro and crispy fried onions before serving.
Nutritional Information (per serving):
  • Calories: 350 kcal
  • Protein: 20g
  • Carbohydrates: 50g
  • Fat: 8g
  • Fiber: 2g


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