Here’s a quick and easy, flavorful Capsicum Rice recipe for a weekday meal! Perfect for lunch boxes too because there is hardly any dish to clean after you prepare this one-pot recipe. If you have heard of the name ‘Capsicum’, not to worry! It is just another name for Bell Pepper.
With a colorful vegetable like the Capsicum, you can really prepare a dish that is as appealing to your appetite as it is to your eyes!
With the Instant Pot, the recipe is really as simple as it sounds. But if you do not have an Instant Pot (yet), I have included instructions for the stovetop version too. With a handful of spices and a versatile vegetable like the Capsicum, this recipe packs in a lot of flavors it is one you can enjoy all year long.
Going by my kids’ liking, I am expecting to prepare this recipe several times this year. I hope you will share my opinion too!
For this capsicum rice version, I used the green variety for capsicum, but you could go with any other variables such as the yellow or red peppers. The red peppers can sometimes be a little sweet too. So, you may have to adjust your spice level accordingly.
Capsicum pulao recipe
Some of my friends that have tried this recipe claim that this was as good as any “Pulao” or vegetable rice that you can find in restaurants. But this recipe is a lot easier than any other kind. I find this an excellent option for a weekday dinner or a potluck party.
That’s when you are out of options and out of time. Basically, it is prepared with cooked rice mixed with bell pepper and other supporting spices. You can also prepare this rice with any leftover rice (although not for a potluck party :-). For me it does not get any simpler than that...just prepare the bell pepper masala then add it to the cooked rice!
How to make this recipe
When we’re pressed for time like we always seem to be, it seems easy and justified to turn to a frozen option as a quick meal option. Let this recipe serve as that gentle reminder that nudges you to prepare this wonderful option instead.
The boxed or frozen option come loaded with added sodium and preservatives. Preparing Capsicum rice is not only quick and nutritious, but you can really taste the ingredients. With the instant pot, it is only made easier.
Once you master the basic techniques with the Instant Pot, there’s really no end to the ways in which you can cook up quality recipes even with your busy schedule.
Here is a quick step-by-step direction with pictures of capsicum rice or pulao.
Step 1: Press ‘SAUTE’ mode on Instant Pot and add a couple of teaspoons of oil. When the oil heats up add cumin, mustard, Bengal gram dal. Saute them until the dal turns golden.
Step 2: Add remaining spices like cinnamon, mace, cloves, cardamoms, and 2-star anise. Saute for 20 seconds.
Step 3: Add ginger garlic paste, and sliced onion and saute it for a minute.
Step 4: Add chopped capsicum and frozen corn and stir well. Then add remaining spice powders. Stir well to make sure you should not stick to the pan.
Step 5: Add rinsed rice, salt, water and stir well. Add chopped mint leaves on the top and close the lid. Press CANCEL button on Instant Pot.
Step 6: Close the lid on the pot, and turn valves from VENTING to SEALING position. Set the pot to MANUAL/PRESSURE COOK (High Pressure) and set the timer to 4 minutes.
Step 7: Wait for NATURAL PRESSURE RELEASE(NPR). Wait for the silver button on the lid to drop before opening the lid.
Rice used for this recipe
I used Basmati rice for my version and it is one you need if you are preparing this for a potluck. That’s because the basmati rice grains tend to steam well and not stick to each other and that gives an elegant look and brings the perfect texture to the recipe.
You could also use Sona Masoori kind with decent results. Any rice variety that sticks more than usual like the Jasmine rice is not the right choice for this recipe.
Substitute for Bisi bele bath powder
One other question I got from my friends when I shared this recipe is if there is a substitute for the spice powder that I have used. I used Bisi Bele Bath powder in this recipe because it has all the spices I needed for this recipe. If you do not find this in your local grocer, you can always find it on amazon or better yet, prepare a homemade version.
For that, you need coriander seeds, black gram, Bengal gram, methi seeds, cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper. Dry roast them at first and grind into powder form. Add a little bit of each to the recipe.
I can see that this can be a hassle and I recommend preparing it ahead of time or getting the store version. Most of these spice mixes are just whole spice powders and do not have any preservatives. So I have a small stash in my pantry to cover for ‘busy’ days.
For the stovetop version, it is better to keep the cooked rice ready as you prepare the masala on a skillet. Just saute the spices individually in vegetable oil. Add ginger, garlic paste and saute them to get rid of the raw smell. Follow it up with sliced onions, bell pepper, and corn. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add the remaining spice powder and stir well. Finally, add salt and the cooked rice to it and give it a nice stir. Top it with mint leaves and cover the lid.
Let it sit for 3- 4 minutes on low flame and then switch off the heat. The stovetop version takes a little longer and leaves you with a pile of dishes to wash, but there is no compromise in taste or authenticity in either version.
Here are other yummy Instant pot rice recipes...
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Capsicum Rice - Instant Pot
- Press ‘SAUTE’ mode on Instant Pot and add a couple of teaspoons of oil to the inner pot.
- When the oil heats up, add cumin seeds, mustard, and Bengal gram dal. Saute it until the dal turns a golden color.
- Add the other spices listed such as cinnamon, mace, cloves, cardamoms and a couple of star anise. Saute for 20 seconds.
- Add ginger-garlic paste, sliced onions and saute them for a minute.
- Add chopped capsicum (Bell Pepper), frozen corn and stir well. Then add remaining spice powders and continue to stir well to ensure none of the ingredients stick to the pan.
- Add the rinsed rice, salt, water and continue to stir for about a minute.
- Top it with chopped mint leaves and close the lid. Press the CANCEL button on Instant Pot.
- Close the lid on the pot, and turn the valve from VENTING to SEALING position.
- Set the pot to MANUAL/PRESSURE COOK (High Pressure) and set the timer to 4 minutes.
- At the end of 4 minutes of cook time, let the pressure drop gradually by using the ‘NATURAL PRESSURE RELEASE(NPR)’ option. Wait for the silver button on the lid to drop before opening the lid.
- That’s it! Capsicum Rice is ready to be served with a side of raita or Indian mango pickle.
Stove top method
- For the stovetop version, it is better to keep the cooked rice ready as you prepare the masala on a skillet. Just saute the spices individually in vegetable oil. Add ginger, garlic paste and saute them to get rid of the raw smell. Follow it up with sliced onions, bell pepper, and corn. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the remaining spice powder and stir well. Finally, add salt and the cooked rice to it and give it a nice stir. Top it with mint leaves and cover the lid.
- Let it sit for 3- 4 minutes on low flame and then switch off the heat. The stovetop version takes a little longer and leaves you with a pile of dishes to wash, but there is no compromise in taste or authenticity in either version.
- You could substitute the Bisi bele powder- you need coriander seeds, black gram, Bengal gram, methi seeds, cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper. Dry roast them at first and grind into powder form. Add a little bit of each to the recipe.
- Or skip the Bisi bele bath powder and add ½ tsp coriander powder
- For the color add ½ tsp Kashmiri red chili powder (optional)
- Option to add vegetables like frozen peas or green beans and carrots with capsicum.