About this dish
This is a fragrant rice dish where long grain basmati rice is flavoured with whole spices which in most Indian kitchens one always has at hand. As a result, this meal is a family favourite go to weeknight meal, the kind when you don't know what else to cook.
If you have some classic vegetables in the freezer like beans, peas and carrots, that makes the process even quicker. I usually always prefer fresh but if not, I have green beans and peas in the freezer at all times. I find that they retain their texture quite well when they are frozen as compared to other vegetables like carrots or broccoli. This way I can whip up dishes like upma, peas pulao and aloo beans in a jiffy without having to go shopping.
Serve this aromatic vegetable pulao with yoghurt or raita to make a scrumptious meal.
- 300g / 1.5 cups long-grain aged basmati rice*
- 30g or 2 tbsp ghee or butter
- 110g or 1 large onion
- 8g or 3 garlic cloves
- 12g or 1.5 tsp ginger paste
- 25g or 10 cashew nuts
- 130g or 1 medium potato
- 65g or 1 carrot
- 80g or 12 green beans
- 70g or 1/2 cup fresh/frozen green peas
- 200g or 1/4th cauliflower
- 1/4th cup fresh mint leaves
- 1-2 green chilies
- a small bunch coriander stems (optional)
- 2 tbsp fried onions (optional)
- 3g or 1 tsp whole cumin seeds (jeera, जीरा)
- 2 indian bay leaves** (tej patta, तेज पत्ता)
- 2 cinnamon sticks (dal chini, दालचीनी)
- 4 cloves (laung, लौंग)
- 4 green cardamom pods (chooti elaichi, इलाइची)
- 1 black cardamom pod (badi elaichi, बड़ी इलाइची)
- 20 or 1 tsp black peppercorns (kali elaichi, काली मिर्च)
- a pinch ground mace (javitri, जावित्री) (optional)
- Wash the rice 4-5 times at least, till the water is no longer cloudy. Soak the rice for 15-20 minutes while you prep the vegetables and other ingredients.
- Pound the ginger and garlic into a fine paste in a mortar and pestle, alternately you can grate or finely chop them.
- Slit the green chillies (if using), slice the onions and chop the carrots, beans and potatoes in 2cm cubes.
- Tear apart the mint and coriander leaves from their stems. Finely chop the coriander stems.
- In a pressure cooker or a heavy bottom pot, heat your ghee to medium heat.
- Add the cumin seeds and then the rest of the whole spices (bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, both cardamoms, the peppercorns and mace) and roast till fragrant. Make sure the heat isn't too high, or you'll burn the spices and they'll turn bitter.
- Once the spices are roasted, add the cashew nuts and roast till golden.
- Then add the ginger, garlic paste and the green chillies, stirring constantly to make sure the ginger doesn't stick.
- Next, add in the sliced onions and roast till the onion slivers brown around the edges (browned onions = extra flavor).
- Next you can add in all your vegetables (except the frozen peas, those I like to add last so that they retain their lovely green colour. They are already cooked anyway). Sauté them for a minute or two and season with salt, you don't have to wait for them to be cooked through though.
- At this point, you need to add in the water (or cooking liquid you're using, you can also use vegetable stock or whey). When pressure cooking use 1 + 1/4th cup of water. If you're not pressure cooking you'll need 1 + 1/2 cups of water.
- Heat your cooking liquid and bring it to a simmer. This is also when you taste for seasoning. Your cooking liquid should be just a little saltier than desired in order to properly salt the rice.
- Then add the drained rice to the pot and give it a gentle stir. Make sure not to break the rice. Also, add the mint leaves, coriander stems and fried onions (if using) at this stage.
- Cook for one whistle in the pressure cooker, turn off the heat and let the steam release naturally. If you aren't using a pressure cooker, your pulao is going to need a little more TLC. Cook for 20 minutes with the lid on and give it a gentle stir occasionally, to ensure that the rice is not sticking to the bottom. When the rice is 90% cooked, turn off the heat and leave the lid on for another 10 minutes or so in order to let the steam finish the rest of the cooking process. We want the rice to be cook through but still be fluffy. Fluffing the rice with a fork when it's done really helps in achieving the right texture.
Serve with raita or yoghurt and enjoy!
*Long Grain Basmati Rice (Basmati Chawal)
There are various varieties of basmati rice that are commonly available in stores in India. At home, we usually stock atleast two types of basmati rice. One regular kind for eating with dal or curries which is fragrant but not especially long grained and not aged. This is your go to everyday rice, and a perfect side dish.
The other kind is the aged-long grain basmati rice often labelled biryani rice. This is the variety we use for pulao's and biryani's. This is your go-to rice for dishes where rice is the star of the dish. Usually this sort of rice is more expensive than regular basmati and hence more special. The grans of this rice are visibly longer and the aging process of the grains gives them a darker yellowish hue and so much added aroma.
**Bay Leaves (Tej Patta)
Note that there is a huge difference between the Indian bay leaves and the bay leaves that are usually sold here in Berlin (Lorbeerblatt). Indian bay leaves add more of a nutty aroma whereas the European/German versions are very herby and if over used can make the dish bitter.