I am a rice fanatic and would try anything that has something to do with rice that I find appealing. Like wheat, rice too is versatile in its own way, making one of the best non gluten substitutes. Back home we make innumerable amount of preparation using rice and have them throughout the day right from morning through to dinner in different forms such as pathiris, neypathal, simple rice etc. While some dishes require less skill, some others require laborate and long process and a better hand on experience. My favourite among rice platters have always been Biryanis and pulaos. The amount of flavours packed in them is just magical. Even though preparing them take up quite a big chunk of time, it is worth every effort and time. Making rice to its perfection is quite an art; it is one of the simplest things to make, yet something that needs the knack to get it right. In spite of making rice for several years now, I still screw it up at times.
I would try any rice dish that sound and look appealing. That was when I came across Soma’s Zafrani kofta pulao. She presents her dish beautifully to begin and with all the writings and explanation, you are just ready to eat that platter. My recipe here is not very different; it is very much inspired and adapted from Soma and the outcome was better than I expected. My expectations are always very high and not less than perfect!? I just tweaked a bit to add my personal touch and to adjust with some of the ingredients that are not a regular ingredient in my pantry, like the saffron. I also prepared rice as our humble ghee rice, because that’s one way that never fail to get right and one that I make often. But it took me quite some time to prepare this pulao as some steps in the making takes very long time like frying onions to brown. But Soma mentions that kofta and onions can be prepared ahead of time, which divides the intensity of labour and time you stand at the hob. She also mentions that koftas could be used as starters, filling up pitta pockets along with some salad leaves, some mint chutney, yogurt etc which I regularly do with my Moroccan meatballs (yet to shoot, type and blog!).
Delicious Kofta Pulao
For fried onions:
5 medium onions sliced into half moon shapes/5 cups
¼ cup oil
a pinch of salt
500g lamb mince/beef mince
1/3 cups finley chopped onion
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp chopped mint leaves
2 tsp garam masala powder
1 ½ - 2 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
3 ½ tbsp corn flour
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp coriander powder
¾ -1 tsp salt
3 tbsp double cream
2 tbsp or more vegetable oil to fry the koftas
3 cups basmati rice, washed in several changes of water and soaked to 20 minutes before cooking
4 ½ cups boiling water
salt to taste
¼ cup ghee (clarified butter)
2 black cardamoms
4 green cardamoms
½ tsp black pepper corns
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp almonds
2 bay leaves
3 teaspoons rose water
1-1 ½ teaspoons garam masala powder
½ cup chopped mint leaves
For fried onions:
1.Rub salt in to the sliced onion using fingers or just sprinkle salt onto onions and toss it with a large spoon. Heat oil in a large wok or frying pan. When hot, throw in onions and fry them in 1-2 batches until brown. Make sure the pan is on medium heat and stir occasionally to avoid charring and onions sticking to the pan. once brown, fish them out and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of garam masala all over the fried onions and mix it with spoon. Keep it covered for later use.
1.Combine all the ingredients for koftas except oil using a wooden spoon. I feel mixing it with hand blends and distribute the ingredients better. Divide the mixture into 25-30 portions and roll it into smooth balls.
2. Heat oil in a non stick pan and fry these koftas until golden on medium heat, flipping sides gently. I used lamb here and it took me around 12-15 minutes per batch of meat balls. Don’t get tempted to increase the heat assuming the meat to cook faster. It would brown the meat from outside leaving the inside uncooked. So keep the heat to medium or lower. You can also bake these Koftas for 20-25 minutes until golden in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celcius, stirring once or twice in between. Once done, keep them aside.
1. Place a wide, non-stick saucepan on low-medium heat and add ghee. When ghee has melted and is hot, add whole spices and almonds and sauté for a minute or two until it is fragrant. Lastly add raisins and stir just until they puff up.
2. Add 1/3rd of fried onions and mix well.
3. Add drained rice to this spiced ghee and sauté for further 4-5 minutes or until the rice is glistened with oil and onions are equally distributed.
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 visible water in the bottom of the pan when you part rice with a ladle. At this point, when water is all evaporated, reduce the heat to minimum, cover the pan with a tight fitting lid to hold in all steam and cook on very low heat for 8-10 minutes 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.
Final assembly of the pulao:
1.Divide the koftas into 2 part and rice into 3 parts OR take away two parts of rice from the non stick pan in which the rice was cooked and keep one part of rice in the pan to do the layering.
2. That is going to be the first layer of rice. Sprinkle on it, some spiced fried onions, some chopped mint and a teaspoon of rose water. Then, distribute one part of koftas on top of this.
3. Scatter the second part of rice over these koftas,onions etc. Again, sprinkle some spiced fried onions, chopped mint leaves and a teaspoon of rose water all over and distribute the second part of koftas on top.
4. Scatter the last part of rice to cover up the underlying koftas and sprinkle rest of onions, mint leaves and rose water and a good pinch of garam masala. Cover the pan tight, and place it on the lowest heat for about 10 -15 minutes to infuse the flavour.
5. Open the pan, gently toss the rice over with a spatula to mix and serve hot with any pickle, raita, pappadam and some salad.