Sweet Corn Pulao

The best part about summer is all the beautiful corn that you can enjoy. There is nothing more enjoyable in the summer than the sweet, tender kernels of freshly shucked corn. I combine sweet corn with basmati rice for a quick and easy Indian dish called pulao. Canned or frozen corn will also work great in this recipe.

A pulao, also known as “pilaf” in the Middle East, is a rice dish cooked with spices and vegetables. In India, pulao is made from aromatic, long grain basmati rice. Basmati is widely available in the grocery store, both in packaged form and in bulk. The fragrance of this lovely long grain rice makes all the difference to this simple pulao.

Making a tasty Indian pulao is really easy. Just keep the following tips in mind and you’ll be making pulao that rivals any Indian grandmother’s!

Don’t overcook the rice. The rice grains should be nice and separate in a good pulao. They should not clump together. If they clump together you’ve probably used too much water or cooked it too long.
Toast the rice. Gently toasting the rice in oil for about a minute before adding water to it will ensure the rice doesn’t stick together.
Leave the pot alone! Once you’ve put a lid on the pan and let the pulao simmer, don’t touch it for the next 10 minutes! Resist the temptation to open the lid (you’ll let the steam escape) or stir the rice (you’ll make it mushy).

Sweet Corn Pulao


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into thin half-moons
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (optional)
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 cup canned, drained sweet corn (Substitute with fresh shucked corn, or frozen sweet corn if desired)
  • Salt

1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add the cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for about 30 seconds or until they are fragrant.
2. Add the bay leaf and stir. Add the sliced onion and cook on medium heat until the onion is soft and brown.
3. Add the garlic, if using. Stir for 30 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant. Then add the rice and stir for about a minute or until it is lightly toasted and coated in oil.
4. Now add corn, salt and 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil. When the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to low. Cover the pan and simmer the rice until it’s done, about 10 minutes. The rice should be cooked, but not mushy.
Serve corn pulao with dal or vegetable curry and raita.

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Photo credits: Sala Kannan