With the festive season knocking at the door, whenever I am trying to pen down some of the recipes, the first recipe that is knocking my mind is “Pulao”. Pulao or “Polao” as called in Bengali , is a dish which is prepared throughout India and eac region has its own version. We make alterations in the ingredients to bring out different tastes and aromas but the basic method remains the same. Although in India any traditional recipe is very oily or prepared from ghee. Pulao is not an exception. But it is deliberate effort to reduce the amount of ghee used in the recipe.
Basmati Rice – 2 cups,
Carrot – 1 cup small diced,
Capsicum – 1 cup small diced,
Beans – ½ cup thinly sliced,
Peas – 1 cup,
Ghee – 2tbsp,
Cashew Nuts – ½ cup,
Raisins – ½ cup,
Whole garam Masala – 2 tbsp,
Salt to taste,
Sugar – 1 tbsp,
Turmeric Powder – ½ tsp(for colouring),
1-2 bay leaves,
Warm Water – 4 cups
1) Soak the basmati rice in water for atleast 1-2 hours.
2) Take a handi and add 1 tbsp of ghee.
3) When the ghee is heated add the bay leaves followed by 2tbsp of whole garam masala.
4) When the aroma of the garam masala comes out add all the vegetables (except capsicum).
5) Add salt to taste and fry for 5-6 minutes.
6) Add the cashew nuts and raisins.
7) Strain the soaked rice and add it to the fried vegetables. Fry for 3-4 minutes with light stirring at intervals. Take care so that the rice grains do not break.
8) Then add the warm water to the rice. Add the turmeric powder, salt & sugar and then cover the handi with a lid.
9) Boil until the rice is well cooked and the water dries completely. It takes about 20 minutes approximately to boil the rice and dry the water completely.
10) When the water is almost dried up add the capsicum.
11) When the water dries entirely, you will find that the pulao is still moist and not so dry. After putting off the flame, uncover the handi for 10-15 minutes and allow the moisture on the rice to evaporate. After 15minutes you will find that the pulao is completely dried up.
12) Add the remaining 1 tbsp of ghee and cover the handi.
1) Rice –Water Ratio : The above method is the traditional method of preparing pulao. But this method of making pualo is very risky because the entire recipe depends on the amount of water added. In pulao the rice grains should be boiled in such a way that they are neither too hard nor too soft. If the amount of water in more and the pulao becomes soft then the entire effort goes to vain. So I have learned from my mother that the thumbrule is that Rice : Water = 1:2 that is if you take 2 cups of rice then add 4 cups of water.
2) Pressure Cooker Pulao - You can also make the above recipe quickly in pressure cooker. Instead of handi take a pressure cooker and reduce the amount of water taken for boiling by ½ cup that is for 2 cups of rice take 3½ cup of water. Then follow all the steps as mentioned above. After adding water, allow the rice to come to a boil and then close the lid of the pressure cooker and wait for 2 whistles. After 2 whistles, uplift the weight of the pressure cooker to release the steam and remove the lid. Wait for 10-15 minutes so that the moisture evaporates and the pulao is dry and tasty.
3) Adding Warm Water while Cooking - While adding water in midst of any recipe either to make gravy or to boil the contents of the recipe, always try to add Luke warm water and not cold water. Since you are adding water after you have already started the cooking and all the ingredients have reached a particular temperature.Tthen on adding cold water the temperature of the cooking reduces drastically thereby affecting the taste of the recipe.
4) Peas Pulao : To make Peas Pulao ,from the above ingredients, just use the pea and eliminate the carrot, beans & capsicum.
The above recipe has the flavour of Bengal. But due to my stay outside my home town I have learned that most of the Indians do not prefer raisins and turmeric in Pulao. If you do not like raisins and turmeric, you can definitely eliminate them.