A departure from the usual: Alu Gobi Pulao

Pulaos are wonderful rice creations that can stir up your senses with their brilliant aroma and taste, not to mention the sheer variety of ways they can be concocted. They sure are my best friends – easy to cook, blissfully satisfying and a meal in one pot for the most part.  Pulao is probably one of the oldest ways to cook rice, apart from plain steamed rice of course. My mom’s classic vegetable pulao is made with a hint of mint (aah, the rhyme was unintended), mixed with aromatic spices like cinnamon, cardamom and cloves all cooked in with fragrant basmati rice and fresh medley of vegetables.  

The star of today’s show – the Alu-Gobi pulao has a slightly different story however. Several months ago, I received a recipe for this in my inbox from Tarla Dalal’s recipe collection. I neither saved the email nor the recipe, so this is probably miles away from her original version. I recently tried to recreate it and it hit the right spot; the well balanced blend of spices, perfectly cooked potatoes and the pan fried, almost crispy florets of cauliflower added a wonderful flavor to the rice. If you are a ‘I-hate-cauliflower-cooked-the-wrong-way’ groupie, go on and give this one a try. You will be pleasantly surprised with the flavor of cauliflower in a rice dish.


You’ll need:

  • 2 cups of long grain basmati rice
  • 1 medium sized stick of cinnamon
  • 3 cloves, coarsely crushed
  • 3 pods of cardamom, peeled and crushed
  • ½ tsp of ground turmeric
  • 2 small bay leaves (or 1 large)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 heaped tbsp of finely minced ginger-garlic
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 1 tsp saunf (fennel seeds)
  • 2 tsp red chili powder (or according to your tolerance for heat)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp whipped yogurt * (optional)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 3-4 sprigs of mint, finely chopped
  • 5-6 strands of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 medium sized potatoes, washed, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium or large head of cauliflower, separated into florets, rinsed and drained well
  • Salt to taste


  • Cook the rice with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, turmeric, bay leaves and a little salt like you would normally cook rice (I mixed everything together and plugged in the rice cooker) with 3 cups of water. When the rice is done, discard the bay leaves and spread on a large plate to cool. This will ensure that the grains stay separate
  • Heat the oil in a pot, add jeera and saunf. When they turn very slightly brown, add the minced ginger-garlic and sauté for minute
  • Add potatoes and cauliflower. Season with salt and let it cook on medium heat. Note that you don’t have to add any water to cook these – they just cook in the oil
  • Once the potatoes are tender and florets slightly browned and cooked through, add chili powder, garam masala and yogurt, if using
  • Add the cooked, cooled rice and mix well
  • Adjust seasonings to your taste and add the finely chopped mint and cilantro. Mix gently
  • Enjoy with raita or just plain yogurt

* I added yogurt for some tang in this recipe. If you want to go dairy-free, substitute with a tbsp of lemon juice. 

11 thoughts on “A departure from the usual: Alu Gobi Pulao

  1. Roopa,

    This is such a great recipe. I love cauliflower and make this pulao quite often, although I cook the veggies and rice together. Your version looks better and I am definitely try cooking the pulao this way.
    Have a great one !

  2. Hi Roopa
    I’m sorry you lost my recipe. Here it is just for you.
    Tarla Dalal
    Preparation Time : 10 mins.
    Cooking Time : 20 mins.
    Serves 4.

    1½ cups long grained rice
    1 cup potatoes, cut into cubes
    1 cup cauliflower, cut into florets
    2 bay leaves (tej patta)
    5 to 6 cloves (laung)
    25 mm. (1″) cinnamon (dalchini)
    2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
    ¼ tsp dry ginger powder (soonth)
    1 tsp chilli powder
    1 tsp garam masala powder
    2 tbsp oil
    salt to taste

    For the garnish
    a few mint sprigs

    1. Clean, wash and soak the rice for approx. 15 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
    2. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker and add the bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon.
    3. When they crackle, add the turmeric powder, dry ginger powder, chilli powder, garam masala powder, potatoes and cauliflower.
    4. Sauté for 2 minutes and then add the rice.
    5. Sauté for 2 more minutes, add 3 cups of hot water and salt and pressure cook for 1 whistle.
    6. Allow the steam to escape before opening. Separate each grain of rice very lightly with a fork.
    7. Garnish with the mint springs and serve hot.

  3. Hey, I can’t believe Tarla Dalal posted here!! Congratulations! She is my all time favorite cooking-guru!! We love you Tarla! Thanks for all the wonderful recipes!

    I prepared another variation over the weekend, aloo-green peppers…I will try this one for this weekend. Thanks for the recipes to both Roopa and Tarla!

    Roopa, Happy Sankranti. How about ‘ellu’ or ‘huggi’ or ‘see pongal’ in your next posting!?!

  4. Pingback: Aley Chubeza #55 – February 7th- 9th 2011 | ח'ביזה

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