Vegetable and Paneer (Cottage cheese) Pulao
Wikipedia describes a Pulao also known as a Pilaf as “a dish in which a grain, such as rice or cracked wheat, is browned in oil, and then cooked in a seasoned broth.” Pulaos are an important part of Indian cooking and as is with most staples in Indian cuisine, every region has it’s own style of making a pulao. The South Indians, add unique ingredients such as coconut, mint leaves and peanuts in their pulaos. North Indians add whole nuts, raisins, and whole garam masala and cook it in copious amounts of ghee or clarified butter.
In addition to it’s regional variants, a pulao is incredibly easy to make and for me, is a quick meal when I’m hungry and hard-pressed on cooking time. Hope you enjoy my version! (I don’t have an image this time. My husband and I gobbled up all the pulao before I remembered to take a picture!)
You will need:
* 2 cups long grain Basmati rice, washed and drained (no need to soak)
* 3 cups washed, cut, assorted vegetables – Frozen peas, sliced green beans, diced potatoes, sliced yellow, red and green peppers
* 1/3 cup finely chopped onions
* 2 tbsp ghee (use oil if ghee is not available)
* A handful of unsalted cashews
* A handful of seedless raisins
* 2 dried Bay leaves
* 2 inch stick of cinnamon
* 4-5 cinnamon pods
* 1 tsp cumin seeds
* 1 tbsp tomato paste
* 1/2 cube of Chicken Bouillon (omit of you’re a vegetarian)
* 1/2 tsp chili powder
* 1/4 tsp corriander powder
* 1/4 tsp cumin powder
* 2 big pinches of garam masala powder (for fragrance)
* 1 tsp Salt
* 1/2 cup of cubed Paneer or Indian cottage cheese (found in any Indian store)
* About 3 cups of warm water
- Heat the ghee in a pot
- Add in the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and whole cumin seeds
- When the cumin seeds begin to crackle, add the cashews and raisins. Allow them to fry in the ghee for about a minute.
- Now add in the chopped onion and fry them on medium heat till light brown
- Then add in all the cut veggies and let them cook in for about 5 minutes
- Now add in the Tomato paste, Chicken Bouillon, and all the powdered spices. Mix well and allow to cook in for another 3-4 minutes
- Finally, add the soaked, drained rice and mix it all well together
- Put in about 2 cups of warm water, salt to taste, mix well again, and allow the rice to cook, uncovered, in the spiced vegetable mixture till they’re tender and ready to eat, adding extra water if required. (The rice should cook in about 15-20 mins)
- When the rice is done, mix in the Paneer cubes in the pulao.
- Serve hot with a bowl of plain yogurt, spiced with some chaat masala and a pinch of sugar, or a dollop of mango pickle.
– Don’t mix the rice when it is cooking. This allows all the rice to cook evenly.
– To check if the rice is done, lift off a few grains from the top and taste. If they feel hard to bite, add in some water. Always add only upto half a cup of water at a time.
– On tasting, if you feel the rice is cooked, and to make sure all the water from the bottom of the pot has been absorbed in the food, splash a few drops of water at the bottom part of the pot. If the drops evaporate immediately, the pulao is done.