The Lovely Pulao
What kind of a cook are you ? Are you the perfect kind, the ones who have perfected their techniques and recipes such that each time they make a Matar Paneer or Baingan Bharta, the outcome is exactly same. That the result does not vary if the quantity changes from 5 to 50, it remains exactly same day in and day out.
Me, I like to say I am a romantic cook, that sounds better than whimsical. I cook as my mood dictates, as the sun shines or the rain falls, as the kids torment or play happily. I will put a pinch of this here, a whiff of that there. I will put in ingredients that the recipe might not call for and skip something listed. I will smell and sniff and taste and depending on whether I have a cold or not, the dish might turn out to be
a) as delicious as last week
b) delicious but different from last week
c) un palatable.
Ok, just kidding, I will salvage most of the un-palatable ones but such things will happen.
It is blogging that has kind of restrained me, tried to straitjacket me, forced me to follow the recipes that I have jotted down here and so these days my Palak Paneer will turn out like before but only if the laptop has power and is not being used by the older kid.
Take last week for example. Sometime around mid last week there was Saraswati Puja( more here), the day we pay our obeisance to the Goddess of Learning. Learning anything, something being BIG in Bengali households, the Goddess Saraswati is paid due respect in every home on this day. I had plans for the same but mornings being very hectic around here, I postponed it to evening.
Though we are talking Halwa, this IS a Pulao
Come evening I realized that to do the Puja I need to offer Prasad, after all what is a Puja without some sweet prasad. In haste I set off to make a Sooji(Rawa) Halwa. Now guys, sooji halwa is not exactly the thing you need to learn at Cordon Bleu. It is supposed to be easy peasy and you should be able to sail through the process and create an aromatic halwa even with a toddler hoisted on your hip.
So that is exactly what I did. I picked up the toddler who was trying to climb up her Mom's legs, a child eager to learn techniques of "making sooji halwa" early on and with her perched on my ample hip, I proceeded to make the halwa. Before even I knew it, I could sense the halwa was going the wrong way. It wasn't roasted to pale brown, it had a freaking white color, the sugar was not enough and the milk was slowly making it into a lump.
It was a halwa that would have scarred the genteel Goddess. It was so bad that the rawa must have been ashamed to find itself in such a state.
I was having doubts 'bout offering it to the academic Lady of Learning. Who cares I thought ? I have learned all my life's lessons and there isn't much that Goddess Saraswati can help me learn more anyway. But then you never know. What if MIT offers me a scholarship for research on blogging tomorrow, I wouldn't refuse, would I ?
So we got rid of that halwa and got some sweets from the store and appeased the Goddess, hope she didn't mind and shall continue to enlighten me.
There I told you it IS NOT about the halwa, it IS the Pulao
But this post is not about halwa. It is about a Pulao, a pulao that has turned out well almost always. A easy One Pot Dish that saves me on many busy days, days when I have time to blog but alas no time to cook.
I have made it as the Soy Peas Pulao earlier, a version based on Tarla Dalal's Recipe. But this time I made some changes as is my nature and added mushroom and vegetables along with soy chunks. If you notice keenly, I have also changed the spices a little. This made the dish Soy Mushroom Pulao and it tasted so very good. I made it again this week and again I made some changes, I added asparagus, next week we shall see...
Soy Mushroom Pulao
What You Need
Uncooked Rice ~ 1 & 1/2 cup of Basmati Rice
Soya Chunks ~ 1/2 cup of Nutrela Soya Chunks
Peas and Carrots (fresh or frozen) ~ 3/4 cup
Mushroom -- 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
Onions ~ 1 cup chopped
Cumin seeds (jeera) ~ 1 teaspoon
Cinnamon (dalchini) ~ 1" stick
Cloves (lavang) ~ 2
Bay leaf ~ 2
Cardamom (elaichi) ~ 2
Turmeric powder (haldi) ~ ¼ teaspoon
Garam masala ~ 1/2 teaspoon or fresh Nutmeg Powder 1/4 tsp
Coriander (dhania) powder ~ ½ tsp (You can use 1 tsp of this, but I kept it low)
Cumin (jeera) Powder ~ 1/2 tsp
Oil ~2 tbsp
Ghee ~ ½ - 1 tsp to smear the rice (optional)
salt to taste
Sugar -- 1/4 tsp
To be ground into a chilli-garlic paste
3 fat cloves garlic
3 whole red chillies
1" ginger peeled and chopped
How I Did It
Wash 1 & 1/2 cups of Basmati rice in several changes of water and spread it out to dry for 15-20 mins.
Make a smooth paste of
3 cloves of garlic,
3 Dry Red Chili( heat alert, use less if needed !!!),
1" peeled and chopped ginger
with little water
Soak 1/2 cup of soy chunks in hot salted water till the chunks swell and become soft. Once they are soft squeeze excess water out and keep aside
Heat 2 tbsp of White Oil in a Kadhai or Saute Pan
Temper the oil with
1" stick of Cinnamon,
2 small Bay Leaf,
approx. 1 tsp of Cumin Seeds/Jeera
When the spices start dancing, add 1 cup of finely chopped red onion. Fry the onion till it turns a pinkish brown
Now add the chili-ginger-garlic paste and saute for couple more minutes till the wonderful garlic flavor hits you
Add 3/4 cup of chopped carrots and peas. I usually have a frozen mix of peas and carrots and use that. Saute for 2 minutes
Add 1 cup of sliced button mushrooms and follow with the soy chunks. Saute for next 2-4 minutes till there is no raw smell of the mushrooms and there is no more water released from the mushroom.
1/2 tsp of Cumin Powder
and 1/2 tsp of Corriander powder
and little turmeric.
With a sprinkle of water fry the masala till the masala coats the vegetables, mushroom and soy chunks. Note: Add more spices if you have more veggies and mushroom
Add the rice. Fry the rice till you get a beautiful aroma.
Now the rice needs to cook. For 1 & 1/2 cups of rice, I add about 2&1/2-3 cups of water. Add salt to taste. I also add about 1/4 tsp of grated fresh nutmeg. This lends a wonderful flavor. If you don't have Nutmeg add 1/2 tsp Garam Masala instead. Mix everything gently and let the rice cook .
Note: You might need little more water if the water has dried up and rice is not cooked.
When the rice is done, add 1/2 tsp of ghee to boost the flavor and 1/4 tsp of sugar and mix gently at low heat. Turn off the heat,cover and let it sit for 10 minutes and then serve with some cool raita.