Monday, 9 March 2015

Shahjihani Pulao

Rice is a staple diet for us and when I mention rice, it automatically means the long delicate, nutty, aromatic basmati rice. I might sound bias here but without any doubt basmati are the king of rice due to its nutty fragrance and thin long slender grains. Basmati are grown in the foothills of himalayas and a very demanding crop. The plants need plenty of water so rice paddies are flooded during moonsoon season to quench their thirst. Once harvested, they need to be aged for around a year to achieve that nutty flavour and texture. For optimal results, they need to be washed and soaked for around an hour minimum or else they will not reach their maximum length which can be up to an inch a grain.
Pulaos or pilaf as called in west is my favourite way to cook it. Pulaos are rich in flavour since they are cooked in stock. Addition of whole spices and saffron makes even more delectable. I have used boneless cubes of beef  but feel free to use any meat of your choice with or without bone. This gravy is adaptable and forgiving so you can replace red chili powder for paprika if you want it to be mild or add a few green chillies if you love your food hot and spicy.



Meat                               2 lbs
Onion                              2 medium thinly sliced
Garlic                              1 head
Tomato                           1 large skinned & chopped
Salt                                 1 tsp or to taste
Red Chili powder             3/4 tsp
Turmeric powder             1/4 tsp
Garam Masala                 1 tsp
Cumin powder                 1 tsp
Coriander powder           1 tsp
Lemon Juice                    1 tbsp
Oil                                   1/4 cup


Basmati rice                     2 cups
Cumin seeds                     1 tsp
Cinnamon stick                 1 inch pc
Star Anise                         1
Black pepper                    10 pcs
Cloves                              4 pcs
Green Cardamom             3 pcs
Stock                                4 cups
Salt                                   1 1/2 tsp
Oil                                    1/4 cup
Saffron                              1 big pinch
Milk                                  1/4 cup warm


Eggs                                 4 boiled and quartered
Potato wedges                  3 potatoes cut into 6-8 wedges


Yogurt                               1 cup beaten
Garlic                                 1-2 cloves paste or grated
Salt                                    1 pinch



Add oil to the cooking pot and put the sliced onions in. fry till they become golden brown.
Put the meat and salt in the pot and fry till it changes colour.
Add garlic and tomato and 1 cup or enough water to soften the meat.
Once the meat has tenderize, increase the flame and add your spices in.
Bhunofy the gravy till oil separates from it and it becomes dark in colour. Bhuno is a term used to brown the masala on medium high heat while stirring continuously to avoid burning and scorching it.
turn the heat off and sprinkle lemon juice and a bit more of Garam Masala. Cover and  let rest for 5 minutes.


Wash the rice under cold water until it runs clear. Soak for at least one hour.
Add Oil to the pot, once hot put in the whole spices. Crackle for a few seconds and add stock or water.
Once it comes to a boil, put the salt and rice in. Stir and taste for the salt at this stage. It should be as salty as your soup.
Cook on high flame until all the moisture has evaporated. Add saffron to hot cup of milk and pour on the rice.
Lower the heat to minimum and put on a heavy tight fitting lid to trap all the steam.
Let cook until you can see the steam escaping from the sides of the lid around 10-15 minutes. Turn the stove off and take the lid off. Cover the pot with kitchen towel for 5 minutes.
Fluff the rice very gently using a flat slotted spoon or a fork.


Beat the yogurt and add salt and grated garlic.


Boil the eggs and peel and quartered them.
Fry the potatoes until nice golden brown and sprinkle salt right after taking them out of the oil.
Add the rice at the bottom of the serving dish.
Put the meat mixture in the centre.
Decorate with eggs and potato wedges.
Spread garlic sauce on and serve hot.

I have used boneless beef cubes but you can use any meat like chicken or goat.
Home made garam masala makes a huge difference in this recipe so I would suggest to make you own.
You can serve them with different variations as follows:
I served raisins on the side. You can sprinkle the on top.
Add a few lemon slices.
Serve some sauteed peas and carrots.
Extra garlic sauce on the side.