Friday, June 19, 2015

Basanti Pulao - a traditional Bengali Sweet Pulao

I have been intending to post the recipe of my Basanti Pulao for close to 2 years now. Sometime back, I actually took pictures of the step by step process and was still not able to post it for reasons unknown. Basanti Pulao and Kosha Mangsho (slow cooked spicy Mutton curry) is a match made in heaven and is an absolute regular at my home. We celebrate the craziest of occasions with this menu, even occasions like both of us working from home on a given day! The sweetness of the pulao compliments the hot and spicy mutton curry and they just have to be tried together.

The Rice traditionally used for this recipe is Gobindobhog and one should never deviate from this tradition. If you do, you will still make a pulao, but not the Godly Basanti Pulao! I have lived in Maharashtra for 8 years and always carried my share of Gobindobhog from back home; however, I did find a variant of this which I used when I ran out of Gobindobhog, Ambemohar! A dear friend from work once introduced me to Ambemohar, and I agree it is a lost sibling of the Bengali Gobindobhog!

I usually assemble the dish and put it in the Microwave Oven for the final cooking bit. Though the last time I made it in the Pressure and it came out just perfect!

Gobindobhog / Ambemohar Rice – 1 cup
Cashews – a handful
Raisins – a handful
Green Cardamom – 2-3
Cinnamon – 1” stick
Cloves – 2-3
Bay Leaf – 2
Grated Ginger - 1 tsp
Nutmeg Powder – ¼ th tsp
Frozen Green Peas – ½ cup (optional)
Sugar – depending on how sweet you want the Pulao to be – I add about 7 tsps, as this is essentially a sweet pulao with a little bit of salt to balance out the taste.
Salt– to balance
Turmeric Powder – ½ tsp (traditionally soaked Saffron is used for the color, I use Turmeric Powder for the yellow hue as Saffron is not always handy in my Kitchen)
A small slice of Lime (if cooking in the Microwave Oven)
Ghee / Clarified Butter – 2 tbsp
Wash the Rice till the water runs clear, drain and set aside.
Heat Clarified Butter / Ghee in a Pan, drop the whole garam masalas (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves) in it, let them sizzle for a while. Add the cashews and raisins and roast them till golden, do not roast too much and burn them.

Now add the Rice to the Pan and keep stirring so that every grain gets coated in Ghee.
Add the grated ginger and keep stirring till the raw ginger smell is gone.
Stir in the frozen Peas.

Add the Sugar, Salt, Turmeric Powder and Nutmeg Powder and mix well.
Do a taste test to see if the sugar and salt are okay, add more if needed, remember this is mishit pulao so it will be a LOT sweeter than other Rice dishes and Salt will only balance out the taste.

Now for the final bit there are two methods:

Pressure Cooker: Transfer the contents of the Pan into a Pressure Cooker, Add 2 cups of Water (double the quantity of Rice) and cook for one whistle, let the pressure completely go down on its own, and then open the lid.

Microwave Oven: Transfer the contents into a Microwave safe bowl, add 2 cups of water, add a few drops of lime juice, cover with a cling film, and Microwave on high for 20 minutes. Unwrap the cling film, and serve the Basanti Pulao with the Kosha Mangsho – slow cooked spicy Mutton Curry!

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