I’ve previously posted a recipe for a Bengali-style sweet pulao with whole “garam masala” and raisins. Today I have a somewhat different version. It riffs on some different pulaos I’ve had in different parts of India—from Kashmir and elsewhere in the north it borrows the use of pine nuts; the use of tart dried cranberries pays homage to the berry pulao of Irani and Parsi restaurants in Bombay. Like all good pulaos it places these ingredients in supporting roles to the rice. Pulaos, in my opinion, are about the fragrance of good basmati rice (this is, of course, a North Indian prejudice—Basmati is not used much elsewhere in India) and that fragrance should not be suppressed or muddied by other overly strong flavours. The subtle nuttiness of pine nuts complements the basmati perfectly, the cranberries add a tart-sweet counterpoint, and a bit of mint brightens it all up. Give it a go: it works wonderfully with rich curries (like this korma, for example) but also just by itself.
- 2 cups basmati rice, soaked and rinsed.
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries.
- 1/4 cup pine nuts.
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions.
- 1 tspn cumin seeds.
- 1 tblspn ghee or olive oil.
- A few leaves of mint, torn up.
- 3 cups of water.
- Soak the basmati for 30-60 minutes, drain and set aside.
- Heat the ghee or oil in a large pan and add the cumin seeds.
- As soon as the cumin becomes fragrant add the sliced onion. Saute the onion carefully, letting it caramelize but not scorch.
- Add the cranberries and stir for a few minutes, letting them begin to plump up.
- Now add the pine nuts and saute for another minute, again being careful not to let them scorch.
- Add the drained rice and saute for a few minutes, mixing and stirring thoroughly. You want to coat every grain with the ghee/oil.
- Add the mint and mix in.
- Add the water, mix everything together, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for 12-15 minutes till done.
- Take the pan of the heat and leave covered for 5-10 minutes. Stir with a fork to fluff up the rice lightly before serving (and add a bit more shredded fresh mint if you like).
- Don’t rinse the basmati too much. As per my mother, I soak it and then drain it and that’s about as much rinsing as I do.
- If you don’t have pine nuts by all means use almonds. Cashews are sweeter and will take it in a slightly different direction.
- The mint I used here is one I’m growing for the first time in my vegetable garden: pineapple mint. It’s a milder, less cloying mint with some citrus notes and I really like it. But use whatever mint you have.
- As with all pulaos and biryanis, this is really the best the first time you eat it. Reheating a pulao is a tricky business, especially in a microwave. If you’re not making it for a gathering then I would suggest halving the recipe.
- Please admire my Suisin petty knife in the picture above—it’s pretty much my favourite knife.