I love to cook and eat. I have this small notebook where I enter the names of good restaurants and their signature dishes (hoping to drop by at the earliest), unique ingredients (and possibly where I can buy them) that I came across while watching a cookery show on Food Network. I can, and do spend hours in the kitchen but I do not call myself an addict because addict is such a negative word when I know cooking is like meditation to me.I get to explore my taste buds every time I cook and get to know my food-mood for the day.
Food-mood: what’s that???
As a new day begins, my appetite wakes me up and asks, “ what’s for today?”
My husbands asks the same question. Hence I set my (and our) food-mood of the day. If our hearts crave for casseroles, it is only a casserole dish that can keep my heart and my taste buds contented.
Last few weeks in my husband’s office had been quite hectic and he didn’t really get into a proper food-mood.As this week began, I decided to relax him and divert him off Monday blues, complaining that I have not been able to set any food-mood since his participation was missing. I left him a text message too. It was lunch hours at his office when my phone beeped with a text message that read,”It’s been long since we had pulao, why not have it for dinner tonight?” I was motivated instantly.
Pulao is a very popular and rich rice-based main course that is widely cooked in our households. It could be veg or non-veg. Vegetarian Pulao is often offered to Gods and Goddess during our religious festivals (e.g., Janmashtami : Birthday of Lord Krishna, Durga Puja : the famous religious festival to celebrate the arrival of Goddess Durga on earth, to name a few) and later on distributed amongst people in the form of ‘prasaad’.It is usually rich in flavor and ingredients. The degree of its richness varies according to individual tastes and preferences.Toasted dry fruits and are often used in pulao.
So here sprung my second thought : what kind of pulao should I cook? The most obvious reply to myself was non-veg, but what??? I was entrapped between my fickle minded love for meat and prawns. Finally,prawn outpaced meat and I was about to prepare Prawn Pulao. Considering the fact that I may not get much time for another non-veg side dish, I zeroed at Raita, which is a famous yogurt-based condiment.
Both pulao and raita are conventionally common and a variety of recipes are available in the internet. But the fact that home made and culture specific pulao recipes have been passed on to generations needs a special mention. My mother prepares yummy pulao, but what my grandmother makes is sumptuous beyond imagination. Every family or culture has their own version of pulao that tastes different from one another. I known the type of pulao that my mother and mother-in-law prepares. But I had to give up the idea of following theirs, owing to unavailability of certain spices at homes. Here comes my version of Pulao (which was simply made of the available ingredients, not by choice but certainly owing to necessity). I am sure whoever views this recipe would not find it uncommon, but what I felt good about was I did not have any mental blockage owing to lack of certain spices (used by my mother) and did this on my own.
The recipe here would do good for two people.
1) 15-20 medium size shrimp prawns
( I used Kirkland Raw-Tail-On shrimp )
2) 1 and 1/2 cups of (long grained) Basmati Rice
3) 2 finely chopped medium size Onions
4) Salt, to taste (for marination of prawns and to be added while cooking)
5) Sugar, to taste (I use it to get the right flavor and NOT to make the pulao sweet)
6) Few pinches of turmeric powder ( just enough to marinade the prawns)
7) Whole garam masala ( 2 bay leaves, 1 thick cinnamon stick and 2-3 pods of cardamom)
8) 6 tsp Ghee (clarified butter)
9) 2 tbsp extra refined vegetable oil
10) 1/2 cup yogurt
11) 1/2 cup water
12) Blend together following spices to a fine powder (Powdered spice)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
4-5 black peppercorns
4-5 cardamom pods (3 green and 2 black cardamom)
2 long and thin cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp dry fenugreek leaves
Method : In a bowl, mix together yogurt,water and powdered spice (according to the degree of rich and spicy pulao you prefer)
1) Marinade prawns with salt and turmeric for about 15 mins
2) Boil rice and keep aside.
3) Heat oil. Fry the marinated prawns moderately and set aside.
4) Add oil and 3 tsp ghee in a large non-stick pan placed over medium high heat.
5) Add whole garam masala and sauté for few seconds.
6) Add finely chopped onions and fry until golden-brown and transparent.
7) Add fried prawns.
8) Add the yogurt-spice mix and cook prawns for about 2 minutes. Reduce into low heat.
9) Add boiled rice, salt (to taste), a pinch of sugar and fold in the prawn gravy very well using large strokes for about 5 mins.
10) Add 3 tsp ghee and fold in well once the rice ready to be removed from heat.
The pulao is ready.
Raita (yogurt based condiment)
In a bowl, mix 1 cup yogurt, 1/3 cup water,salt, coriander paste,tomato sauce, a pinch of dried mango powder. The raita is ready.