Spicy Vegetable Tawa Pulao (Vegan)

dsc_0973Vegetable Pulao is a dish that you will find in every decent Indian cook’s repertoire.  It is so easy to put together and its a one pot dish!  Plus what I like about making pulao is that you can vary the amount or types of spices, use different combination of vegetables to come up with variations of the pulao so that it is never boring.  A vegetable Pulao is one item that always features in our potluck dinner gatherings with friends. It is one solid dish around which other curry dishes and appetizers truly become ‘sides’ but they all work perfectly well to complement each other !

In our home, at least every now and then on a weeknight, I tend to go the Pulao route. Mainly because of its ‘one pot’ quality.  This past week when I thought of making the pulao mid-week for dinner, I wanted to make a variation. So I thought of the famous ‘Tawa pulao’ which was popularized by Pav Bhaaji stalls(vendors) in Mumbai.  But it has quickly gained acceptance in other reputable restaurants too now. Tawa Pulao uses a large griddle (Tawa)  to cook the vegetables using the spicy Pav Bhaaji masala and then cooked rice is mixed with these vegetables on the same griddle along with lots of butter. Another unique thing about the Tawa pulao is that the vegetables having being cooked on a griddle along with loads of butter tend to be a bit crispy/crunchy on the outside and have tons of flavor! I used extra virgin olive oil to replace the butter.

dsc_0973Pan Bhaaji masala is an unique blend of 15-18 different indian spices like cumin,coriander,dry mango,ginger etc.  Tomatoes or tomato paste is one key ingredient when cooking the vegetables. Since I am avoiding tomatoes I used a few cranberries to get the tartness. And then on a whim, I decided to lightly sweeten the cranberries in maple syrup and threw in these sweetened cranberries also to top the pulao and to give it a thanksgiving feel 🙂

Spicy Vegetable Tawa Pulao (Vegan)

  • Servings: Serves 4-6
  • Time: about 45 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
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  • 1 cup long grain Basmati rice, washed and soaked in water for 15 minutes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (You can add fresh minced ginger too additionally)
  • 1/2 cup onion sliced
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup capsicum (green pepper) slices
  • 1/2 green beans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 small potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp sea salt (as needed)
  •  2 tbsp Pav Bhaaji Masala ( I used Everest Brand)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sweetened cranberries and sliced almonds for garnish


Fill a large cooking pot with water and keep it for boiling.  Add a tsp of salt to the water. Drain the washed and soaked rice and add the rice to this boiling water. Cook rice on medium uncovered for about 8-10 minutes or until rice is tender but not too overcooked.

Drain rice immediately using a large strainer.  Keep drained rice aside to cool (uncovered)

In an other large bottomed cooking pot, heat the oil. Then add the onions and sauce for 2-3 minutes. Next add all the vegetables including the potato and saute for 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Next add the cranberries and the salt and spices. Mix well so that all vegetables are well coated with spices. Cover the pot with a lid and let cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.  Now check to see if the vegetables are cooked – they should be al dente – that is still retain a bit of crunchiness. Now add the cooled rice to this vegetable mixture slowly a little bit a time and  also drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil on top and continue to throughly mix the rice and the vegetables taking care not to mush up the vegetables. Check for seasoning – add salt or pepper as needed.

Serve Pulao warm topping with sweetened cranberries and sliced almonds on top!

To make sweetened cranberries:

In a small pot, add 1 tbsp water, pinch salt and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Add about 8-10 cranberries to this and cook on low for 2-3 minutes or until all liquid is evaporated and cranberries turn plump. Turn heat off.


Tawa Pulao





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