Friday, 15 October 2010

Simple Vegetable Pulao/Pilaf

Here is another simple rice preparation that I made recently. Easy to put together and tastes divine. Recently I was watching Master chef program where the contestants had to prepare pulao and none of the participants go it right! Some were undercooked, some were chewy and some were soft outside and crunchy inside. Most of the mistakes would have occured as they were preparing it under pressurised circumstances and the nerves would have just got better of them. Anyways, preparing rice is one of the easiest thing to do if the instructions are clearly followed, and something that can be messed up easily if not prepared appropriately as well. It can be intimidating to many and it can take quite a few trials to get it right. But you will get there one day.

My initial attempts of rice making were a disappointment to see as well as eat. My first rice used to be cakey, something that could b easily cut into shapes. Sometimes it took the other edge being like porridge or a soup. Sometimes undercooked and sometimes overdone. Nothing seemed so hard than preparing rice. I am not talking about the complex biriyani or pilaf here, it’s just the plain rice. Oh, it was a hard time. It took me umpteen trials to perfect it. But once you get the hang of it, it is just a piece of cake.

What I learnt from all these years experience is that while cooking rice, heat adjustment is one of most significant factor. It should be adjusted at the right time. Then comes the water quantity. Water quantity slightly differs depending on if you have soaked the rice prior to cooking or if you are using rice right out of the packet (Well, you have to wash before using). You can use lot of water to cook, and then drain rice once they are cooked, or add just enough water for the rice to cook in without having water to be drained. Rice can be cooked in number of ways; every one would have their own means of cooking. But this is one method that I come back to all the time, as it gives me just the right outcome, just the way I want it. Soft, fluffy and each grains separated. Just follow simple steps, do the flame adjustment properly, if you don’t get it right for the first couple of times, you sure will get it right quick. Believe me, this method would be one of the easiest way to cook rice once u get the hang of it.

Simple Vegetable Pulao/Pilaf
Serves 3-4

2 cups Basmati Rice
3 cups boiling water
Salt to taste
1 large carrot finely chopped (3/4 cup, 120g)
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
¼ cup onion finely chopped (optional)

Whole spices:
2 whole black cardamoms
2 bay leaves
4 cloves
3 small pieces (1” long) cinnamon stick
¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
4 Tablespoon clarified butter (Ghee)


1.Wash rice and soak it for about ½ hour - 1 hour. Place a wide, non-stick saucepan on low-medium heat and add ghee. When ghee has melted, add whole spices and sauté for 30-40 seconds or until it leaves aroma.

2. Increase the heat to medium and add vegetables and sauté for 3 minutes stirring frequently.

3. Add drained rice to these vegetables and sauté for further 3 minutes.

4. Add boiling water and required amount of salt and stir well. At this point of time, it is important to turn the heat up to high. Keep the pan open and cook until you see NO water floating in the bottom of the pan when you part rice with a ladle. Make sure rice doesn’t get really dry here as it needs moisture to get it cooked. As soon as you see no water is left in the pan, reduce heat, cover the pan tight to hold in all steam and cook on very low heat for 10-15 minutes or until rice is perfectly cooked. Once it is completely done, toss rice with a spatula once or twice to avoid rice grains sticking to each other.

Serve hot with any spicy curries.


You can use your own choice of vegetables here, including green beans, cauliflower etc..
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