Baked Pav-Bhaji Pulao

By Published On: 12 Jun '23Last Updated: 14 Apr '24

A delicious one pot Baked Pav-bhaji Pulao chock-full of vegetables with oomph, delicious richness and flavour. Serve on its own or with your favourite Sriracha Sauce.

Baked Pav-Bhaji Pulao

Would you like to enjoy a steaming hot delicious baked pulao with lots of vegetables? Today I have put a twist to a regular stove top vegetarian pulao and this one is for a spicy palate! I am really excited to share with you my 'Baked Pav-Bhaji Pulao' that is tried and tested over the last few months. I am amazed with the results and so is my family who has tasted this pulao.

Pulao is a big deal in my house and it was very much so even when I was growing up. My mother would make pulao only for special occasions such as Christmas, a birthday at home or for extended family gatherings. The one I loved the most was the sweet pulao with fried onions on the top and also kesar (saffron pulao). They both tasted delicious and were real childhood treats.

I have been making pulao for many years on stove-top in my Australian kitchen and have been very happy with the results. However, my culinary curiosity lead me to try a different technique of making pulao in an oven albeit with similar herbs and spices.

I put my curiosity to work and took it upon me to bake my pulao in the oven instead of making on the stove-top. Let me tell you at the onset, pulao is heaps easier to bake in the oven and there is no mess on the stove-top, splashback or the kitchen bench.

To make this pulao, gather the ingredients first, dump them into the casserole or oven-proof dish and pop it in the oven. Then, get ready to sit in front of your fireplace and read a few pages of your favourite novel, or if that is not your thing, grab your favourite wine and just enjoy a few minutes of undisturbed TV time! I like doing yoga to calm down before the happy dinner hour!! You deserve to unwind before the evening starts off!

Continue reading my blog as I show you what you need and how to make this Pulao in the oven.

what is pulao

The term 'Pulao" (pronounced poo-la-o) is referred to rice flavoured with spices, and cooked in water or stock. It is called as 'Pilaf' in Persia and 'Pilau' in England.

Within India itself there are many regional variations to a pulao.

There are not many who have not tried at least one type of Indian Pulao. To put it simply, pulao is a complete one pot meal with rice, assorted vegetables and some herbs.

Pulao can be also be made with chicken, beef, lamb, mutton, shellfish or fish. In modern times, different grains are also used to make pulao.

Pulao is traditionally made on a stove-top. It is made by sauteing the aromatic spices in a little oil or ghee, followed by frying the onion. Most of the flavour for the pulao comes from ghee, aromatics and onions. Once the onion has turned golden, the rice (soaked for a minimum of 15 minutes) is added and coated well with all the aromatics in the pan. Water (sometimes, hot and sometimes cold) is added along with seasoning. The rice mixture is brought to a rolling boil then simmered until it is cooked to perfection. The soaked rice cooks only in a few minutes.

When you make rice on a stove-top, always remember to keep the lid closed and rest the rice for 15 minutes once it is off the heat. Rice continues to cook in the residual water and absorbs all the water, making it fluffy and moist.

Forking the rice is equally important to aerate the rice and remove any lumps formed during cooking. Do not fork the rice when it is resting as it will render the grains to break.

Pulao is best served immediately with or without an accompaniment.


This easy Baked Pav-Bhaji Pulao is made with basmati, long grain or Doongara Low GI white rice. Ghee and butter add flavour and makes the rice fluffy and moist with beautiful individual grains. Herbs and spices give a good punch and make an indulgent weekday lunch or dinner. With four different vegetables, this pulao is a vibrant and multicoloured dish!

Plus the bonus is you can use some of that leftover pav-bhaji masala powder that is tucked away in a cool dark corner of your pantry for a later use! Aah! do we all agree, we do have a packet waiting to be used?

This easy baked pulao is destined to be your new go-to!

  • White Rice - I normally use Sun Rice Doongara Clever Rice because this rice turns out perfect for this recipe. Doongara Clever Rice is a variety of low GI long grain white rice grown in Australia. When baked, the grains are separate and not sticky, which makes the perfect pulao. Substitute: Basmati (I use Alishan basmati rice from my local supermarket - comes in 5kg bags though!!) or any long grain rice. If you are using basmati rice, then it would benefit from soaking for 10-15 minutes (if time permits), although it bakes perfectly well even without soaking however, I observed that the soaked rice yields a slightly moist end product compared to unsoaked basmati rice. Long grain rice does not need to be soaked. Also do not be too concerned of the ratio of water to rice because the quantity of water mentioned in the recipe works perfectly well for Sun Rice Doongara, basmati or any long grain rice. Find at: all large supermarkets however, if you are looking for a specific brand of basmati rice, you may also like to check at your local Indian grocers.
  • Ghee/clarified butter - It is obtained through a process of purification of regular butter, by cooking it on heat. When it reaches a certain temperature, the fats of the butter begin to separate into liquid and solid portions, the Ghee is the liquid portion of the fats of the butter. Ghee makes the pulao aromatic and adds a nutty background note in a really nice way. Substitute: Substitute with 3 tbsp. coconut oil or equal amount of butter, although the flavour varies if you add coconut oil. This Pulao is enjoyed best with ghee and butter combination! Find at: Woolworths, Coles or any Indian grocers. All brands of ghee work well.
  • Green chillies - Basic flavour enhancers in any Indian and South Indian cooking. Discard seeds, if you are not a fan of the spiciness. Increase or decrease the number of chillies to suit your taste. If you are not a fan, then leave them out! Available at: most local green grocers placed next to peeled garlic, ginger and galangal.
  • Fresh ginger - Fresh ginger is added to uplift the flavours in almost all Indian cooking.
  • Ginger-garlic paste - Adds a bit of sweetness and little heat too! Any ginger-garlic paste works!
  • Turmeric powder - This natural ingredient is an important part of my cooking repertoire. When you see my pulao, you at once know it adds a beautiful colour and in addition, a subtle earthy taste. Too much of it adds bitterness. Add only ½ tsp. for a serving of 4 to 6. Find at: All large supermarkets in their spice shelf and any Indian grocers. Some Asian supermarkets stock it too.
  • Butter - This pulao gets its flavour with the right hint of butter and ghee. It’s a celebration of a every day recipe so, feel free to lift your flavour game, if you like more flavour! Use any butter you have.
  • Fresh/Frozen mixed vegetables - Use a combination of fresh or frozen vegetables. Both work well. My go-to is the packet of McCain mixed vegetables. I also added a handful of frozen McCain sliced beans for colour. Find at: Woolworths, Coles or any large supermarket in their freezer section with other frozen vegetables.
  • Garam masala powder - Lifts the flavour game to another level. Don't panic if you do not have garam masala powder. Substitute: 6 whole cloves, 6 whole green cardamoms and a cinnamon quill or a couple of small cinnamon sticks or ¼ tsp. powdered cinnamon powder. The whole spices are added for flavour so, if you find them when eating, place them on the side of your plate.
  • Pav-Bhaji masala powder - A secret ingredient in this pulao that make's it super flavoursome and adds oomph. It is made with a combo of aromatic and other spices along with dried mango powder. Find at: All Indian grocery stores only. Don't waste time looking for this product in any mainstream or large supermarkets. Have this ingredient ready before you start making the pulao.
  • Coriander leaves - Garnished for flavour and for colour. Omit if you are not a fan of this flavour!
  • Lemon juice - Just a light drizzle rounds off the savoury flavours nicely! Leave it out if you don't have a fresh lemon handy.


Preheat oven to 200°C

Rinse rice well under cold running water. Drain and add to a round or square oven proof dish. I use my 21cm round casserole dish as shown in the below right image

Add melted ghee, green chillies, ginger, ginger garlic paste, turmeric, salt and warm water. Stir well to combine

Cover with foil. Bake for 40 minutes

Remove from oven. Carefully stir in butter, vegetables and the spice powders

Cover with foil and bake for a further 10 minutes

Remove from oven and rest covered for 15 minutes. Resting helps the residual water in the rice to dry up.

The secret to a fluffy pulao is to leave it to finish cooking in its own heat without removing the foil

Fork the rice. Serve garnished with chopped coriander leaves and a good drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Flavoursome, fluffy and delicious individual grains and a no fuss oven baked pulao!

I served mine with store bought Sriracha Green Chilli Sauce and my family really enjoyed the chilli kick!

how to serve

This baked pav-bhaji pulao is best enjoyed immediately after resting, as the heat in the grains intensifies and keeps the rice moist. If you have leftovers, sprinkle a teaspoon water and reheat in the microwave for 2 to 5 minutes depending on the quantity of leftovers. This pulao stays fresh in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container, or a dish covered in cling wrap.

  • Sprinkle a little ghee (clarified butter) and eat piping hot on its own.
  • Serve with some pan fried fish and roasted capsicum with a drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon juice for a satisfying bowl of lunch.
  • I served with store bought Sriracha green chilli sauce and my family enjoyed it for dinner.
  • Serve it as a nest for your favourite protein of lamb, pork or beef curries.

I honestly didn't think that I would get an all-round set of smiles from the dinner table with this meal! It's a 5-star from all 4 mouths.

If you have tried this recipe, we would truly appreciate if you would give this recipe a star review! And if you share any of your pictures on instagram use the hashtag #deliciouslyindian. We would love to see it when you cook our recipes. For more recipe inspirations, follow on Instagram @lavina_mendonsa.

Baked Pav-Bhaji Pulao

Baked Pav-Bhaji Pulao

Catherine Lavina Mendonsa
A delicious one pot oven baked pulao chock-full of vegetables.  Its easy, saves time and it’s inexpensive.  The secret ingredient is pav-bhaji masala that adds oomph and a kick of flavour.  It’s tasty to be served on its own or served with your favourite Sriracha Sauce. 
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Resting time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Goan, Indian, Mangalorean, South Indian
Servings 4


  • 2 cups Basmati rice/Doongara Clever Rice or any long grain rice 420g
  • 2 tbsp. ghee, melted clarified butter 30g
  • 4 green chillies or to taste
  • 2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tsp. ginger garlic paste
  • ½ tsp. turmeric powder
  • tsp. salt or to taste
  • cups warm water 635mL
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • cups mixed chopped fresh/frozen vegetables including frozen green peas, green beans and carrots or sweet corn 350g-400g
  • 2 tsp. garam masala powder or to taste 4g
  • 2 tsp. pav-bhaji masala or to taste 4g
  • ½ cup chopped coriander leaves for garnish
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)


  • Rinse rice well under cold running water and drain.
  • Preheat oven to 200°C.
  • Place rice, melted ghee, chillies, ginger, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, salt and water in an oven proof tray or deep casserole dish. I have used my round casserole dish (20cm wide x 10cm high). Stir well to combine. Taste and season, if required. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, carefully stir in butter, vegetables, garam masala powder and pav-bhaji masala.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and rest covered with foil for 15 more minutes.
  • Fork the rice and serve garnished with coriander leaves and freshly squeezed lemon juice. You may serve on its own or with pan fried fish on the side. This pulao also tastes delicious with a good drizzle of Sriracha Sauce, for a bit of chilli kick. I used Sriracha Green Chilli Sauce. Pairs well with boondi raita.
Keyword Baked, Baked Pulav, Pav-Bhaji, Pilav, Pulao
Lavina with Deliciously Indian

Hi, I’m Catherine!

I’m all about creating tasty Indian dishes with whatever’s on hand, even when I’m short on time or budget. I love turning simple ingredients into flavorful delights. Join me on this culinary adventure where we’ll explore the magic of Indian cuisine, one delicious dish at a time!

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