Posted on: October 8, 2021 Posted by: Joven Comments: 0

This Yakhni Pulao is a delicious rice pilaf featuring fragrant basmati rice, flavorful vegetable stock, healthy mixed veggies, aromatic spices and herbs. While there are many versions to make this dish, my vegetarian recipe is fragrant, flavorful and tasty. One of our favorite rice dishes is Yakhni pulao after Biryani and Veg Pulao and I am sure it will be yours too.

top shot of yakhni pulao garnished with fried onions and cashews in a white plate

What is Yakhni Pulao

The urdu word “Yakhni” refers to a broth or stock. Pulao or pilaf is a one pot rice dish. The recipe gets its name Yakhni pulao as the rice is cooked in the yakhni a.k.a the stock or broth.

The stock is made first by cooking the meat (here we make the stock with veggies) together with fragrant spices. Later the rice is cooked until tender in this stock.

The recipe of this Yakhni pulao is from the Hyderabadi cuisine. Generally yakhni pulao is a non-vegetarian dish. But there are vegetarian and vegan versions of this dish as well like this recipe.

Making this subtly flavored dish requires a lot of care and attention similar to making a biryani. A slight error on your part can ruin this dish. The rice grains have to be separate and yet cooked. The veggies also should be tender and not overly cooked. So you see this recipe demands perfection.

As they say practice makes a person perfect. I tried making yakhni pulao many times. Something or the other would go wrong. Most of the times the rice would be over cooked. The taste was alright but the texture was something that could have been improved upon.

Finally after some practice, now I can make a really good Yakhni pulao – so good, both in the taste department and with a fluffy non-sticky texture of the rice grains. Try this recipe and you will see its taste, flavor is much different and unique than your regular pulao.

My mom used to make an awesome Yakhni pulao and this recipe is inspired from hers. The vegetarian version of this Yakhni pulao is obviously made with a hearty mix of firm vegetables, but you could make it more wholesome by adding soy chunks, tofu or paneer.

About This Recipe

First we make the yakhni or the stock with the vegetables and spices. The veggies are cooked in water with a bouquet garni made of spices to make the broth or stock. 

Wondering what is bouquet garni? Whole spices are kept in a muslin cloth and then tied tightly to a small bundle (also known in Hindi as ‘potli‘). It is this small bundle of the spices that is called bouquet garni.

This bouquet garni is placed together with the veggies, water and salt in a pan. The entire mixture is allowed to cook until the veggies are half-done or half-cooked. Later the spices are discarded. Then the broth or stock is strained and the veggies are kept aside.

This spice infused broth is then mixed with curd (yogurt), rice and the half-cooked veggies in a flavorful aromatic base of sautéed onions, herbs and seasonings. This entire assortment of vegetables, stock, aromatics, rice is tightly covered with a lid and slow cooked on dum until the rice grains are tender and softened.

The result of cooking with this technique, is that the rice absorbs all the flavors of the Yakhni stock. The result is a super delish and fragrant flavorful rice pulao.

It is better to use basmati rice for this pilaf recipe. For best results soak the basmati rice in water for about 20 to 30 minutes. Strain the soaked rice before adding it to the veggies and yogurt.

I have garnished the yakhni pulao with fried onions, mint leaves and cashews. You could just garnish with fried onions (also known as birista) skipping the cashews and mint.

yakhni pulao garnished with fried onions and cashews in a white plate

Do try this aromatic and healthy yakhni pulao at home. The yakhni pulao is best served with an onion tomato raita or cucumber raita. You can also serve it with a veg curry of your choice.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Yakhni Pulao

Make Vegetable Yakhni (Veg Stock)

1. Place the following spices in a muslin or cheese cloth to make the bouqet garni:

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • ½ tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 inch ginger, crushed
  • 5 to 6 small to medium garlic cloves, crushed
whole spices and crushed ginger, garlic in muslin cloth

2. Tie the muslin cloth securely with the spices inside it. This is the bouquet garni.

spices bundled in muslin cloth

3. Heat 5 cups of water to a gentle boil on medium heat.

I have used 5 cups of water to make the yakhni pulao. So that I don’t need to add extra water later to the rice in case it is needed.

And if at all any extra yakhni or stock remains, it can be drank as it is like a thin soup or can be added to gravies, curries, dals, paratha etc.

water being heated in a pot

4. Add 1.5 cup of mixed chopped veggies like french beans, carrots, cauliflower and potatoes. Also, add ½ cup of green peas (matar) together with the prepared bouquet garni. Add salt as required.

vegetables and spices bundle added to hot water in pot

5. Cover with a lid.

pot covered with glass lid

6. Cook and simmer the veggies till they are half-done or par-cooked on medium-low to medium heat. This takes about 10 to 12 minutes.

Note that we are not boiling the vegetables here, but gently cooking them on a medium-low to medium heat.

half cooked vegetables floating in water with a steel spoon inside

Strain the Yakhni

7. When the vegetables are half-cooked, remove the the bouquet garni. Through a strainer carefully strain the stock or yakhni in a bowl and set the veggies aside.

When the bouquet garni becomes warm, squeeze it over the broth to extract more flavors from the spices. Open the muslin and discard away the spices.

strainer filled with vegetables on top of glass bowl filled with stock

8. Set the vegetable stock aside. From this vegetable stock measure 2 cups and keep aside.

Refrigerate the remaining veg stock and add it to your soups, lentils, curries, rice dishes, paratha, roti etc.

vegetable stock in a glass bowl with spoon inside

Soak Rice

9. Meanwhile rinse 1 cup basmati rice and then soak the rice in water for 20 to 30 minutes. After 20 to 30 minutes drain all the water and set the rice aside. Preferably use aged basmati rice.

soaked basmati rice in yellow bowl

Sauté Spices, Onions

10. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a pan and let it melt.

ghee in pot

11. Add the following spices to the melted ghee and fry for a few seconds until they splutter:

  • 2 to 3 small tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 4 to 5 black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
spices in ghee

12. Then add 1 medium-sized sliced onion – about ½ cup thinly sliced onions.

sliced onions in ghee

13. Sauté the onions stirring often until they are golden.

onions caramelized in ghee

Make Yakhni Pulao

14. Add the soaked and drained basmati rice.

rice in pot

15. Mix to combine the basmati and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes on low heat.

rice mixed with caramelized onions

16. Now add the half-cooked vegetables and 2 to 2.25 cups of the vegetable stock or yakhni.

Add salt if needed. We have already added salt to the yakhni. Keep this in mind before adding the salt.

stock with vegetables and salt in pan

17. Add 3 tablespoons fresh curd (yogurt or dahi).

curd added to pan

18. Mix well. Check the taste of the stock and it should be slightly salty.

yakhni pulao ingredients mixed well

19. Cover with a tight lid. I have wrapped the lid with a moist cotton cloth or kitchen napkin to cook on dum. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes on dum on a low heat.

pot covered with glass lid covered with a moistened kitchen napkin

20. Later open the pan. If the rice appears not to be completely cooked and the mixture looks dry, just add a splash of warm yakhni or broth to the rice. Gently stir with a fork.

Cover tightly and cook the pulao for a few minutes more. If there is some stock in the pulao, then do not add any extra veg stock. Simply cover the pan and cook further for some more minutes.

cooked yakhni pulao in pot

Make Garnish

21. Take one tablespoon ghee or oil in a pan. add 1 small sized onion, sliced thinly – about ⅓ cup thinly sliced.

sliced onions in oil in white pan

22. Once the onion changes to light brown color, you can add 12 to 14 cashews and sauté with the onions.

cashews and onions in pan

23. Sauté stirring often till the onions becomes golden brown.

onions caramelized in pan

24. While serving garnish yakhni pulao with the crispy caramelized onions, golden browned cashews and some chopped coriander or mint leaves. Serve hot or warm with onion raita or with onion kuchumber.

yakhni pulao garnished with fried onions in a white plate

More Tasty Indian Rice Dishes!

If you made this recipe, please be sure to rate it in the recipe card below. Sign Up for my email newsletter or you can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest or Twitter for more vegetarian inspirations.

This Yakhni Pulao is a delicious vegetarian version of rice based pilaf featuring basmati rice, vegetable stock, mixed veggies, spices and herbs from the Hyderabadi cuisine.

Prep Time 25 mins

Cook Time 20 mins

Total Time 45 mins



Servings 3

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This Yakhni Pulao post from the archives (Feb 2012) has been republished and updated on 8 October 2021.

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