The Indian Diaries: Pulao Rice!

Tonight I'm inaugurating The Indian Diaries Project!
Featuring: Nikita Kapur (my roomate!)
Nikita hails from New Delhi, India.  She moved to California for her undergraduate studies in nutrition at UC Davis.  There Nikita and I became friends, and now we are continuing our journey together in Boston as Tufts dietetic interns, nutrition graduate students, and roomates.  She is a fabulous cook, and I am getting spoiled with the great Indian cooking.  It's time to document what she is teaching me, and to share her recipes!
The Mission: To bring you authentic Indian recipes spiced with historical tidbits. 
It's a team.  Nikita will cook and I will blog.
Tonight's Special: Pulao, Indian Vegetable Rice
2 cups rice, cooked.
1.5 cup mixed veggies (frozen is ok!-peas, carrot, cauliflower, potatoes, green beans)
1/2 onion, chopped
2.5 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 small cinnamon sticks
3 cloves
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1.5 tsp turmeric powder (for the fabulous yellow!)
salt to taste
(Optional: lamb or chicken)
  1. In pan, heat vegetable oil and add cumoin seeds, cinnamon sticks, and cloves.  Oil should be hot enough so that these whole spices immediately "crackle,"  
  2. Once spices crackle, immediately add chopped onion.  Cook until onion is transleucent and lightly brown.
  3. Add vegetables and lower the flame.
  4. Once the vegetables are cooked and tender, add the dry spices (chili, coriander, turmeric).  Add salt.
  5. Stir in rice and mix well.  Remove from stove.
  6. Dig in!  If desired, garnish with raisins, cashews, and a scoop of plain yogurt.
The Local Taste
Nikita loves to eat pulao with a dollap of homemade plain yogurt (wow, homemade!) and a side of mango pickle.  Mango pickle?  
"Mango pickle is a pungent Indian condiment made from unripe mangoes, tons of Indian spices, and mustard oil," Nikita explains. In the summer I tried authentic mango pickle made from Nikita's grandmother (pictured in the bowl at left).  It is powerfully salty and intensly sour, making it the perfect compliment to pulao or any rice dish.  "I honestly don't know what she puts in it." Nikita says.  "My grandmother takes a big pot and mixes everything together.  Then she transfers it to jars and leaves it in the sun for 3 days."    

Historical Tidbits 
Today's featured recipe is a variation of a Mogul rice dish known as "biryani."   Biryani refers to a broad category of rice-based dishes that incorporate meat, eggs, whole spices (whole cloves, cardamom, cinnamon), vegetables, and cashews.  However Pulao is a simpler, lighter modification of biryani.  Translated to English, "pulao" means "pilaf."  So the next time you find yourself in New Delhi on a Sunday, stop by Nikita's house.  Most likely her family will be eating pulao, a Sunday brunch favorite.
Coming next on the Indian Diaries...The Secrets of an Indian Spice Box!


Anonymous said...

this is soo cool!! ive NEVER had indian looks great!

alivaux said...

oh my gosh this made me miss you two soooooo much!!! why are boston and DC so close yet soooo far away!?!?! love to you both!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lovely comment.
Great recipe, I'd love to spice up my rice dishes with this.


Unknown said...

This is a great idea you guys! Keep up the good work :)

Anonymous said...

this is a wonderful idea! I wish I had taken more time to learn from one of my roommates. She is an incredible cook.

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Disclaimer. I am not a Registered Dietitian yet. I provide nutrition information intended for the general public, not for the treatment of a specific medical condition. I try to use scientific research and reliable sources when forming my opinions and messages.
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