Vegetable Pilaf

Vegetable Pilaf

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I hope you all had an amazing weekend. I certainly did, we had a late Raksha Bandhan celebration. Every year my sister-in-law comes over to tie a Rakhi (a sacred thread which signifies a sister’s wish for her brother’s happiness and prosperity) on my husband’s wrist.

Raksha Bandan is a celebration of the bond between a brother and sister. We had a reason to indulge in all our favourite dishes, this Vegetable Pilaf being one of them.

Who doesn’t love a good Pilaf! This Vegetable Pilaf reminds me of Hindu Weddings or should I say Hindu Weddings back in the old days. Omg, I’m giving away my age it seems. Weddings have become far too sophisticated and I am not sure if anybody even serves a Pilaf or Biryani anymore.

The last wedding we attended we had a feast of vegetable curries together with all the accompaniments. I remember when I was younger the menu for every Hindu wedding was a Pilaf served with Masala Dal and salad. For dessert it was always Soji.

I also remember the Soji was served on the same plate the Pilaf was served on. And boy wasn’t that the best tasting soji ever. The good old days, how I miss them!  Typically, long grain rice was used to cook this dish for weddings. It’s exactly how I made it.

Rice cooked with curried vegetables in one pot

If you’re wondering what the difference between a Pilaf and a Biryani is. I don’t think there’s much difference in terms of flavour. What I do know is that a Pilaf is where everything is mixed together and cooked in one pot.

A biryani is a layered dish. I made this Vegetable Pilaf for a crowd I should say as you can feed at least 12 people with this quantity. I don’t often cook huge quantities of food but when I have guests I have to make sure I cook enough. Often my guests get some to take away too. It’s how it works in an Indian home.

I am so glad I still have some of our old-fashioned values. Another thing I have learnt is that if someone gives you something and you have to return a dish it should never go back empty. And if we are invited to someone’s home we always take a little thank you gift, be it flowers or chocolates but just don’t go empty-handed. I absolutely love these little gestures and I will continue doing them because it gives me so much joy.

Let me not lie, this Vegetable Pilaf needs a little effort in terms of preparation so I hope you’re up for a challenge. One thing I can promise you is that it will be worth the effort.

Rice cooked with curried vegetables in one pot

Rice cooked with curried vegetables in one pot
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5 from 1 vote

Vegetable Pilaf

This dish is a spicy combination of rice and vegetables made the South African way
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword south african cooking, veg pilaf, vegetarian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12



  • 3 cups long grain rice you can use Basmati if your prefer
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • salt
  • egg yellow food colouring


  • 7 cups vegetable i used green beans, carrots, peas and double/lima beans
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs curry leaf
  • Handful thyme
  • 1 tbsp ginger/garlic paste
  • Handful mint
  • 3 Roma tomatoes blanched and blended
  • 6 potatoes cut in halves
  • 100 gram butter
  • water

Whole Spices

  • 4 cinnamon stick
  • 4 bay leaf
  • 3 star aniseed
  • 2 black elachie/cardamom
  • 4 cloves
  • salt

Ground Spices

  • 2 tbsp masala
  • 1 tbsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tspn turmeric
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 4 tspn ground coriander
  • 1 tspn ground fennel/soomph
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil



  • Add the cinnamon sticks, cardamom and salt to the rice and cook until the rice is half cooked. Sprinkle some food colouring over, cover and set aside


  • Peel the potatoes and cut them in halves. You can boil them until it's half cooked and fry them before adding them to the Pilaf or you can add them raw. I did cook mine a little before adding it to the Pilaf but I did not fry them
  • Cut the vegetable, rinse well and set aside
  • Heat oil in a large flat pot. Add the whole spices, cinnamon, black cardamom, bay leaf, cloves and star aniseed and fry until fragrant
  • Add the onion, curry leaf and thyme and sauté until the onion is slightly brown
  • Add the ginger/garlic paste and sauté for a minute
  • Add the vegetable, excluding the potatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes
  • Add the ground spices, masala, chilli powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel and garam masala. Mix well and sauté for 5 minutes. You an add a few drops of water to prevent burning
  • Add the blended tomatoes and mint. Season with salt and simmer for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. You can add a half cup of water if liquid dries up before the veggies are cooked
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  • Add the rice and potatoes once the veggies are cooked and mix well. Pour 2 cups of water over the rice and place the butter on top
  • Pop the Pilaf into the oven for an hour or until the rice and potatoes are cooked
  • After an hour if the rice and potatoes are still not completely cooked you can add another cup or 2 of water and cook for a further 30 minutes. You should have an idea as to how much cooking time is needed after an hour so add just enough liquid to allow it to finish cooking
    Rice cooked with curried vegetables in one pot


Depending on where you live the Pilaf may cook sooner than other areas. The amount of water you add to the Pilaf will depend on the cooking time. I added 5 cups of water to my Pilaf in total as the potatoes took much longer to cook at high altitude



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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Suraya Moodley

    5 stars
    Hi Lorraine,
    Thank you, interesting, looks like the South Indian wedding Biryani , miss it so much, with Brinjal dal, carrot salad and Sogi. My Mum used to take hours every Saturday to make the best Biryani….your picture is beautiful, tried to enlargen it, could not though.
    Not many weddings in New Zealand cook our SA Biryani/Pilaf.
    Stay blessed.

    Suraya Moodley

    1. Lorraine

      Hi Suraya! Thank you so much. Yes, it is a mum thing, I also miss my mums early morning cooking and by the time we lazed out of bed we always had fresh food. Sorry about the image, this was probably some of my very early recipe posts, not sure if I knew what I was doing in terms of technology. We don’t have many weddings here too, times have changed and the food is definitely very westernised now. You take care and stay safe in New Zealand:-)

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