When I decided to get brave and let the experiments begin
Its been a while since I made a veggie pulao at home. Mostly because I have never been able to get it right, spot on. Yeah its always just short of hitting the spot and leaves us feeling like "something's missing", without being able to really say what that something was!
Today though, I decided to give it another shot. I decided to trust my instincts and the many months of experience I have added on to my culinary repertoire. I decided to go with my gut and throw things in as I felt they would fit, combining a few lessons and tricks I have picked up along the way, with my sense of smell and flavour. Dont look so confused. I did say this was going to be about being brave and letting the experiments begin.
What you need
For the pulao:
Assorted chopped veggies. I used potatoes, carrots and beans, but feel free to add in whatever you want.
Rice, soaked for at least 30 mins before cooking. I used 2 cups, and it was enough to feed 3 hungry people.
One handful of roughly chopped mint leaves
For the pulao masala
1 large tomato chopped
1 medium onion chopped
1/2 a handful coriander leaves
2 green chillies
A large-ish piece of ginger
3-4 cloves of garlic
Dry masalas for the rice
1 tsp jeera (whole)
1" piece of cinnamon
1-2 bay leaves
1 star anise (if easily accessible)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp dhaniya powder
What you need to do
Wash and clean the rice. Leave it to soak in water for at least 30 minutes (until you get all the rest of the preps done).
Chop up all the veggies you need and keep them aside.
Grind all the ingredients for the wet masala to a fine paste.
Dont add any water to begin with as the tomato and onion releases juices. If it is too dry you can add a wee bit of water, just enough to grind it easily.
In a pressure cooker/pan, heat some ghee/oil. When its hot enough, throw in the whole spices like jeera, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon, and star anise, and saute till it smells divine.
Next, add 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp red chilli powder and 1/2 tsp dhaniya powder. Then, add the wet masala and saute continuously till the masalas cook well, dry out a bit and the oil begins to separate.
Next, throw in the vegetables and mix it well with the masala. Add salt to taste at this stage. It will release a bit of water, so dont add any extra water just yet.
Add the soaked rice and slowly add the required amount of water to cook it through.
Finally throw in the chopped mint leaves and mix well. Shut the lid and let the pulao cook to as many whistles as your pressure cooker would need to cook rice.
If I started off by calling this an experiment, I must say it ended being a successful one. The pulao was fresh-tasting (thanks to the coriander and mint) and light and flavourful. I tend to enjoy a pulao when its not overly packed with masala. While I did use a wide variety of spices, using them in smaller quantities balances it out, giving just the right amount of flavouring.
I can already see this recipe being repeated at our home on a night when I cant think of what to make and dont wish to spend too much time in the kitchen!