Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Recipe of the month: Mint Pulao

This recipe is very close to my heart so it just had to make the cut on the recipe section of my blog. I always feel that I haven't featured enough rice recipes on my blog so with this one, I feel marginally better!

I don't cook fancy food at home most of the time. Someone may have once implied something of the sort (*cough cough*...my sister...*cough cough* 😂). Far from it actually! If you come at take a look at our typical weekly menu stuck on the fridge, the usual suspects would include chapati with sides like dal, paneer butter masala, egg curry or generic subzis, dosas like ragi dosa, neer dosa, uppu-huli-khara dosa and rava dosa, stuffed parathas,  poori-chole, pav bhaji, pongal, bisibele bhath, pulao, biriyani and the likes of it. I reserve the more time consuming South Indian breakfast dishes like akki rotti, idli-vada, guliappa, patrode and dosa, traditional Udupi-style full meals and chaats for weekends when I have time on my hands to do them justice. Some other weekend indulgences would include pesto or creamy pasta, homemade pizza, risotto, black bean burgers, noodles, fried rice and a few of our favourites from South-East Asian, Mexican, Thai and Middle Eastern cuisine. Starting this year onwards, I've decided to incorporate different salads into our meal plan but that is only a bi-weekly lunchbox affair. So you see, no matter what recipes you see on my blog, Indian food still reigns supreme in my household and that is always how it will be. It is the food I grew up with, the food that evokes the strongest sentiments/fondest memories and the food I will eat until my last breath (so melodramatic I am no? 😝). 




So back to when I was still an unexperienced (and not a very creative) cook, there were only a handful of recipes that I could depend on when I had guests at home for lunch or dinner. This mint pulao was one of them. I think over the years, I must have made this dish for all my family members and close friends! This dish is a favourite of mine and my husband's and it features on our weekend menu quite frequently. It has also been appreciated time and again when we have made it for other people reinforcing our trust in it. And although I have come a long way since those initial years and learnt many many more interesting dishes, I still continue to make this pulao. This is one dish that both me and the husband make with equal frequency so neither one of us claims it to be our speciality 😛 I'm pretty sure I got the recipe from somewhere but over the decade, it has gone through many improvisations that I feel like I can call it my own now.



Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow at home and I have plenty of family and friends who grow their own mint. This recipe is super easy and has a basic ingredient list all of which can be easily found in any reasonably well-stocked Indian pantry. I prefer to keep this dish simple without the use of too many spices and vegetables so if you also happen to have basmati rice, coconut milk, potatoes and peas, you have pretty much most of what you need to make this pulao! Serve it with any raita of your choice, a simple green salad and papad or chips and you have a great tasting main course in less than an hour 😊

Since this is a very easy recipe, I have not included the step-by-step photos (I may update it at a later time). Just follow the recipe and you will be fine. This recipe easily doubles and can be halved to serve only two people. 

Go try it folks! 
Mint Pulao

Preparation time: 20-25 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Serves: 4
Recipe Category: North Indian/Main Course
Recipe Level: Easy

1.5 cups long-grain basmati rice
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
A handful of cashew nuts, split
1 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
1 inch piece ginger
4 garlic cloves
3 green chillies (or adjust according to spice level)
A squeeze of lemon juice
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1 big red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves
2 green cardamom
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
1 cup coconut milk
2.5 cups water
1/2 cup cooked green peas
1 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste (I add ~2 tsp)

1. Wash the basmati rice and soak in ample water for 20 min

2. In a broad pan, heat 2 tsp ghee and fry the cashew nuts till golden. Keep aside

3. To the same pan, add 1 tbsp oil and heat. Add in the cubed potato and fry till cooked and golden brown on all sides. You will need to stir a few times to ensure the potatoes are uniformly cooked. Keep aside.

4. In a mixie/blender, grind the mint, coriander, ginger, garlic, green chillies and lemon juice to a smooth and fine paste using very little water. Keep aside.

5. In a large deep bottomed pot, heat 1 tsp ghee and 1 tbsp oil. Add in the bay leaf and the whole spices (or you can also finely crush the whole spices in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder if you don’t like them whole). Fry for a minute or two till fragrant.

6. Add in the cumin seeds and wait for them to sizzle. Add the chopped onions and fry till translucent. Now add the ground paste and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the drained basmati rice and fry for another 3 minutes.

7. Now add in the coconut milk, water, salt and green peas and cook on medium flame, partially covered until all the moisture is absorbed. Do not stir the rice as it is cooking.

8. Switch off the flame and let the rice stand for 5 minutes covered. Toss in the fried cashews and potatoes and give the rice a gentle mix. Remove the bay leaf and star anise before serving. 

9. Serve hot with chilled raita and papad on the side.


Notes:
  • You can use regular sona masoori rice in this recipe but the quantity of cooking liquid will vary (you will need more)
  • You can use brown basmati rice instead of white 
  • You can boil or steam the potatoes but honestly, it doesn't taste half as good as when you shallow fry till golden brown as suggested
  • In addition to the potatoes and peas, you can add in more veggies if you like
  • Overmixing will lead to breaking up of the long strands of basmati rice and the rice turning mushy so try not to do it 

Cheers,
Megha

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