Monday, October 13, 2014

Recipe of the month: Vegetable Pulao


It's time for a recipe that is very close to my heart. This is a recipe for Vegetable Pulao that I have been making for the past 6-7 years. Every single time I make Pulao at home, it is this recipe that I turn to, so in a way, it is my go-to recipe. I've made it on countless occasions when I've had guests at home and I very frequently get asked the recipe Since it works so well for me, I haven't changed a thing and have continued to make it the same way over the years. Why mess with a good thing no? 

This recipe does have some history attached to it. Immediately after I got married, I was a housewife for a while. I had just graduated from dental school and I was quite frankly quite fed up with studying and working. Since I was always highly enthusiastic about cooking, I used that short phase of my life to learn all the basic recipes that my mum and MIL had perfected over the years. One among them was this recipe for Vegetable Pulao. This is my MIL's recipe and it is one of her signature dishes. My husband was very eager that I learn this recipe from her and he used to frequently bug me about it. I did eventually learn it but the first few times I made it, the feedback I would always get is that - "its good but it tastes a bit different from mum's". I had no idea what I was doing differently. My MIL uses a mixture of two different pulao masalas for this recipe. One from Everest and one from MTR. This combination, gives it a distinct flavour that you do not get if you just stick to one masala. She also uses fried bread cubes as a kind of garnish which gives it a different twist and something my hubby really loves. I guess the saying 'Practice Makes Perfect' is true because as I continued to strive to get it right and eventually succeeded to get it to taste like her version (don't ask me how though coz I have no idea...hahaha).  


I use an equal proportion of basmati rice and regular rice i.e. sona masoori in this recipe. There are certain kinds of rice dishes that I make for which I use an equal ratio of these two varieties of rice. I just like it better that way. But then again, there are other kinds of rice dishes where I exclusively stick to either basmati rice or regular rice. You can use whatever rice you like but be mindful that the quantity of cooking liquid would change (more details on that as you read on). 

Here is the recipe. It is slightly labour intensive but the good thing with any pulao is that it is a one pot meal and all you need is a simple raita and some crunchy element on the side and your meal is ready!

Vegetable Pulao

Preparation Time: 30-40 min
Cooking Time: ~20 min
Serves: 6
Recipe level: Easy
Recipe Source: MIL

Ingredients:

2 cups rice (I used a combination of 1 cup basmati rice and 1 cup regular rice), refer notes*
2 large red onions, chopped
2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 medium-sized carrot, cut into small cubes
1 medium-sized potato, cut into small cubes
12 french beans, chopped
1.5 cups cauliflower florets
1/2 cup peas (I used frozen peas)
1.5 tsp Everest pulao or biryani masala
1.5 tsp MTR pulao masala
1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder, Optional
2 tsp sugar
~3.5 tsp salt (adjust according to taste)
5 slices of bread, cubes and deep fried until golden brown
4.5 cups water
1/2 cup whole or skimmed milk
1 bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped
2 tbsp oil/ghee

To mince together: (Or alternatively, you can finely chop or pound using a mortar and pestle)
6 garlic cloves
6 fresh green chillies
1-inch piece ginger


Method:

1. First, you can complete all the prep work. Wash the rice thoroughly under running water a few times until it runs clear. Soak in ample water until you are ready to use it. 

2. Chop the onions, tomatoes, potato, carrot, beans and thoroughly clean and floret the cauliflower. Thaw the peas if you are using the frozen variety. Mince together the garlic cloves, green chillies and ginger (I used a chopper for this purpose). 


3.Now heat the oil/ghee in a skillet. When hot, add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle.


4. Add in the chopped onions and saute until the onions turn translucent.


5. Add in the minced garlic-green chilli and ginger paste. Fry until the raw smell of the paste disappears. 


6. Now you will need to add the veggies in a particular sequence to ensure uniform cooking. First add in the chopped carrots and fry for about 2-3 mins on medium to high heat. 


7. Next add in the chopped potatoes and beans and fry until the veggies are half cooked.


8. Add in the cauliflower florets and chopped potatoes . Cover and cook until the tomatoes go mushy and all the veggies are about 3/4th done. 



9. Add in the turmeric powder, red chilli powder (if using), the two pulao masalas, salt and sugar. Give all the ingredients a good mix and fry for 1-2 mins. 


10. Add 4.5 cups of water and 1/2 cup of milk. Bring the liquid to a gentle boil. Now add in the drained rice and give everything a quick mix. 



11. Keep the lid covered and the heat on medium-low and cook until the rice is done. Do NOT stir the rice in between. Just leave it alone and it will get done. This might take about 20 mins or so. 


12. Meanwhile, while the rice is cooking, chop the bread slices into cubes and deep fry them in hot oil until golden brown.



13. When the rice is almost done, add in the thawed peas.


14. Then add in the chopped coriander and the fried bread cubes.


15. Give everything one final gentle mix (avoid mixing too much as the rice will tend to get mushy).


16. Prepare a simple raita to go along with the Vegetable Pulao. I made a simple one using yoghurt mixed with chopped, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, green chillies and coriander leaves. 


17. Ta-Da! You are finally done! Enjoy the Vegetable Pulao steaming hot along with the raita and some potato chips or poppadoms or fryums.


Notes:
  • *You can make this recipe using exclusively basmati rice or exclusively regular (sona masoori rice). The ratio of liquid will change if you decide to stick to one kind of rice. For basmati rice, I use 1 cup rice to 2 cups liquid ratio and for regular rice I use 1 cup rice to 3 cups liquid ratio. Adjust accordingly
  • You can use whatever veggies you have on hand. There is no hard and fast rule. If you want to add in boiled eggs or fried paneer, you can do so as well
  • This recipe is easily halved or doubled depending on the number of people you are serving it to
  • You can increase the amount of veggies for this pulao but I frankly do not like main courses that are way too saturated with veggies so I stick to the reasonable quantities mentioned in the recipe
  • The Everest biryani masala has chunks of whole spices in it so if you don't want those to go into the rice (some people hate biting into whole spices), I would advise you to powder the masala powder until fine before using


Cheers,


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