Veg Pulao / Fried Rice

For the last 2 days I hav not been blogging… as I decided not to blog on weekends. Now I have 3 recipes ready with the snaps to put down. I have to choose which one should come first and I decided to pen down the easiest of them first. Well that’s how the Veg Pulao recipe happens to be the first one. As I typed the title of my post I quickly google-d up the difference between a ‘fried rice’ and ‘pulao’ and here is what I found. The main difference between them is that ‘fried rice’ is made from pre-cooked rice while pulao is made instantly by the usual way of making rice. Again depending upon the ingredients used you can have different names to the pulao/fried rice.

So I decided to stop juggling between the two names and use both of them. Though I cooked rice instantly I will mention how to use the pre-cooked rice for this recipe in the notes section at the end of this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Rice – 1 cup
  • Vegetables (carrots and beans), finely chopped – 1/2 cup (use any desired vegetable)
  • Peas – 2 tbsp
  • Onions,thinly sliced –  1 medium
  • Ginger & Garlic paste – 1 tsp
  • Whole Garam Masala –
    • Green cardamom – 3
    • Cloves – 2
    • Cinnamon one inch stick
  • Bayleaf – 1
  • Biryani masala – 1 tbsp optional
  • Broken Cashews – 1 tbsp
  • Raisins – 1 tbsp
  • Oil /ghee/butter –  2-3 tbsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water – 2 cups

Method:

  • Wash and soak rice in water for 15-20 mins and then drain.
  • In a pressure cooker add ghee / butter / oil and add bay leaves and the whole garam masala. Stir well.
  • Add the onions, fry till color changes and becomes translucent.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and mix well with the onions.
  • Add the finely chopped vegetables and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the washed and drained rice to it and mix well.
  • Add 2 cups of water, salt (as per taste) and Biryani masala (optional). Mix well.
  • Pressure cook till completely cooked (4-5 whistles or may vary).

A few notable points:

  • If using pre-cooked rice: Heat oil in a pan, fry the spices, onions and veggies and add the cooked rice to it. Mix well so that the spices get well blended with the rice and vegetables.
  • I used only vegetables, but one can use chicken, egg prawn, paneer and give a corresponding name to it.
  • I generally use a pressure cooker for all my rice recipes, however the traditional way of making rice can also be used.
  • Using ghee/butter surely adds richness, but I prefer to use plain oil unless for some special occasions.
  • If you want to cook the Bengali style of fried rice or pulao add sugar as per taste and do not add biryani masala.
  • Cashew and raisins are optional and I generally use them for the special occasions.
  • Another secret tip for enhancing the flavor is to use some (small amount) biryani masala if available. Trust me that renders an awesome aroma to the rice.

Lemon Rice

Summer is almost knocking at the doorstep… looking back at the last year reminds me of the terrible Kolkata heat.. huffing and puffing in the scorching heat and then back at home… the cool breeze from the fan, a quick aam-panna… mom-made lemon rice and curry.

A tangy South Indian dish – the Lemon rice – has sneaked into my household, specially during the summer. It is a pleasant variation from the plain rice, frequently prepared for long train journeys when you wish to carry food along and can be made from fresh cooked rice or leftover. A quick snap shot of what it entails.

Ingredients:

  • Rice (freshly cooked or leftover) – 1.5 cups
  • White Oil -2 tbsp
  • Curry leaves – 10-12
  • Peanuts – 1.5 tbsp
  • Bengal Gram/Chana Dal – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Split black gram skinless/Urad Dal – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Lime juice – 2 tbsp or to taste
  • Ginger (minced) – 1/2 tsp (optional)
  • Asafoetida – pinch (optional)
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4th tsp or a pinch (do not use in excess)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Sugar –  to taste
  • Whole dry red chillies or green chillies – 1-2
  • Grated coconut or cilantro – to garnish

Method:

  • Add lime juice and salt to the cooked rice and mix well.
  • Heat oil in a pan and fry the curry leaves, peanuts and the dal (if desired) separately and keep aside.
  • In the same oil (heated) add mustard seeds, let them pop and crackle, add the chillies (broken red chillies or slit green chillies), turmeric powder,  ginger (optional) and asafoetida (optional) and saute for a minute.
  • Add the rice (mixed with salt and lime juice) fried curry leaves, peanuts and dal.
  • Mix well but slowly so as not to mash the rice.
  • Cook on low flame till the rice is heated all the way through.
  • Garnish with grated coconut or cilantro.

Jeera Rice

When I started cooking I realised that Jeera or Cumin is a magic spice. It has a wonderful aroma and renders a marvelous flavor when cooked with veggies or rice. Jeera rice has been my favorite, simple yet tasty and easy to cook complement to any side dish, be it rajma, choley, veggies or non veg.

This dish is even more delicious when cooked with ghee, bay leaves and whole garam masala, but often to keep it healthy and stomach-friendly I end up using oil with little butter and omit garam masala. That way I can have it quite frequently without straining my digestive system too much! Also, I always use a pressure cooker to make any rice recipe for my convenience, however I have seen many people using saucepan. Anything that is convenient and comfortable can be used.

Ingredients:

  • Oil / ghee / butter – 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds / Jeera – 1-1.5 tsp
  • Basmati rice (Though this variety of rice adds on to the flavor you can use any other rice too) – 1 cup
  • Bay leaves – 1
  • Whole Garam Masala-
    • Black Cardamom – 1
    • Green cardamom – 2-3
    • Cloves – 2-3
    • Cinnamon (one inch stick) – 1
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water – 2 cups (Water is always added twice the amount of rice if cooked in pressure cooker)

Method:

  • Wash and soak rice in water for 15-20 mins and then drain.
  • In a pressure cooker add ghee / butter / oil and add bay leaves and the whole garam masala. Stir well.
  • Add the cumin seeds. As its sizzles and changes color add rice to it. Mix well for a minute or two so that oil is evenly coated on the grains.
  • Add water and salt and let it pressure cook. Serve hot.

Biryani

My mom does not love cooking but she cooks well and there are some special items that she cooks just awesome. Biryani is one of them. She makes it in her own way which is not too spicy or heavy for stomach. I initially thought it is a cumbersome process but well … its worth the effort. And definitely a treat to your taste buds.

So this one is an inheritance from my mom… Chicken biriyani – my mom’s way!

Ingredients:

  • Basmati Rice – 1 cup
  • Chicken pieces – 500 gms
  • Onions, sliced – 3-4 medium
  • Mustard Oil – 3 tbsp (For chicken preparation, though optional and you may also use white oil)
  • White Oil (For rice preparation) – 1 tbsp
  • Ginger Paste – 1 tbsp
  • Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
  • Whole peppercorns – 4-6
  • Whole nutmeg (Jaifal) – 1
  • Mace (Javitri) – 2
  • Bay leaves – 2
  • Coriander powder – 1tsp
  • Red chilli powder – 1tsp or to taste
  • Whole garam masala / spices
    • Green cardamom – 3-4
    • Black cardamom – 3-4
    • Cinnamon sticks – 2 one inch sticks
    • Cloves – 6

For convenience you can also use readymade biriyani masala (available in Asian/Indian stores if staying abprad) instead of the above mentioned spices and it would work out almost fine. Recommended – Shan / MDH biriyani masala.

Method:

  • Heat mustard oil in wok.
  • Fry the onions till brown and then take it out from oil.
  • Grind the whole garam masala along with the fried onions to a paste.
  • To the oil left in wok add whole bay leaves and chicken pieces and fry them.
  • Add the half of the ground masala and onion paste, ginger garlic paste, coriander powder, red chilli powder and broken mace and nutmeg.
  • Cook on medium heat till the chicken softens and is almost done, in case it dries up sprinkle few drops of water.
  • Keep aside the chicken for later use.
  • In a pressure cooker add white oil (Do not use mustard oil for this).
  • When the oil is heated add the remaining ground masala and salt to taste.
  • Add rice and just the double amount of water.
  • Do not cook the rice completely, rather let it cook 3/4th the way.
  • In a flat bottomed vessel 9keeping it on low heat) add rice and chicken in layers. Put a part of the rice in a layer, then add the chicken pieces over it as the second layer, add rice to the 3rd layer and so on depending on the quantity.
  • Sprinkle kewra oil (for essence) and 2-3 drops of orange color. You can omit this step too.
  • Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes so that the rice gets cooked completely in the steam.
  • Check on the doneness of the rice. Do not mix this with a ladle or spoon, rather cover the vessel and shake it hard. This way the rice and chicken gets mixed without messing it up.
  • Serve it hot.

Note –

  • Do not use tomatoes or turmeric powder for this recipe.
  • You can also use yogurt /curd to marinate the chicken before cooking.
  • You can use mutton instead of chicken to prepare mutton biryani.