Pulao, in comparison to Biryani, is not a hot dish. Whole spices are the star of the show instead of curry like separately cooked masala. Pulao is a rice dish, cooked in seasoned broth, that has travelled with Muslim conquerors from civilisation to civilisation through centuries. Now there are many different versions of the recipe commonly cooked in the entire Central and South Asia and Middle East.
What I love most about this Peas and Rice recipe is that, unlike the mutton and chicken version of pulao, it can be cooked in one pot within 30 minutes and still smells and tastes like a dish from the royal table. It’s so versatile that you can pair it with any vegetarian or non veg side, kebabs, pickles and chutneys and each time it will make the most satisfying and comforting family meal.
I love to use the hassle free method of using whole spices in my recipes that require to simmer in a broth for some time as it draws out maximum flavour from the spices. To make it a more nutritious and complete meal, specially when I don’t have a side to serve with it, I top the peas and rice with hard boiled eggs.
_You can also add mixed vegetables and mushrooms to the same recipe to make it more colourful and enriched.
_For Lehsun/Garlic chutney, pound together 10 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 6-7 dry red chillies or 2 teaspoon red chilli flakes and salt. Add a little lemon juice. Or whiz everything in the blender.
_For cumin raita, just mix thick yogurt, cumin and salt.
_For Mint Chutney, whiz together fresh mint and coriander leaves with cumin, red chillies, black pepper and salt. Mix with yogurt or lemon juice.
4 cups long grain basmati rice
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch piece ginger, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, chopped
1 star anise
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2-3 green cardamoms
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
4+1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
1/4 cup sunflower or olive oil
Fresh coriander and green chilli peppers for garnishing
This Is What You Do:
Add onions and fry till golden brown. The colour of fried onions will determine the colour of your pulao, too light and the rice won’t have the beautiful golden colour of pulao, too dark will leave an unpleasant taste and undesirable colour.
Add ginger, garlic and all the dry spices, red chilli powder and salt. Add a splash of water and sauté for a minute till the spices begin to release their aroma.
Add peas and 1/4 cup water. Reduce heat to medium low and cover the pan. Cook for 5 minutes or till the peas are half done.
Add rice and enough water to come 1 inch over the surface of rice. Cook covered on medium heat till all almost the water is soaked but the rice are still somewhat wet looking (almost 12 minutes).
Reduce heat to the lowest possible. Wrap the lid of the pan in a clean cotton tea towel.
Cover the pan tightly so that no steam can escape. This method is called ‘dum’. Leave rice on dum for 10 minutes. The ready rice should be fluffy, no more moist, with each grain separate and peas soaked with flavour.
Serve hot garnished with coriander and green chilli peppers. Garlic chilli chutney, mint chutney, cumin raita and fresh salad make great sides with it.