July 18, 2021

Beet Pulao

Beet Pulao

Comfort foods come in all forms... and one of my favorites is this beet pulao. Those fried curry leaves transport me right back to my childhood with memories of my sister and I fighting over the fried leaves before my mom could even get the dish on the dining table!

What is pulao?

Pulao is a flavored rice dish that is usually eaten on its own or alongside a dhal or stew. In my community in Tamil Nadu, we eat pulao with an accompaniment of pickle or most often in my house with a cucumber pachadi or raita, which is essentially yogurt mixed with raw vegetables and flavored with some tempering spices.

At home, we usually eat Pulao on the weekends for lunch or for weeknight dinners if we want something healthy and quick and light. Especially if you're making this in an instant pot, you won't have to slave over a stove for this incredibly flavorful dish.

Beet Pulao

Got a surplus of beets you don't know what to do with? How about this pulao with a burst of flavor with every bite!


Shilpa Iyer













For the Pulao:

  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small red onion sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1in piece ginger, minced
  • 2 raw beets, peeled and shredded
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 cup uncooked basmati rice, rinsed and set aside
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For Tempering:

  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 6-8 curry leaves (approximately 1 stalk), washed and dried thoroughly
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint for garnishing


  1. In an instant pot, start the sauté mode and allow to heat up.
  2. Add the oil followed by the cinnamon and cardamom. Stir for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the cumin seeds and give it a stir until it starts to bubble around the edges.
  4. Add the sliced onion and stir for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for an additional 1-2 minutes until the raw aroma of the ginger and garlic have disappeared.
  6. Continue to stir occasionally until the onions are translucent.
  7. At that stage, add the shredded beets followed by the turmeric and garam masala powders.
  8. After the masala powders have incorporated well into the onion mixture, add the rinsed rice and stir for 1 minute.
  9. Add 2 cups of water along with the salt.
  10. Stir and turn the instant pot off.
  11. Cover the instant pot with the lid and move the valve to the "sealing on" position. Press the Rice setting and allow the instant pot to naturally release when done.
  12. Once the rice has been cooked, remove the rice and place it in a large bowl. Set aside.
  13. In a small pan, heat the oil from the tempering ingredients until hot.
  14. In quick succession, add the mustard seeds until it starts to sizzle and pop. Immediately add the curry leaves into the hot oil. Turn off the flame and stand back as there can be a bit of spluttering of oil especially if the curry leaves aren't completely dry.
  15. Pour the tempering oil over the rice. Garnish with chopped mint and adjust the pulao for salt as necessary.
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