In India, a pulao (or pulav) is a delicately spiced aromatic rice dish that may contain vegetables, meat, chicken, seafood, paneer, dry fruits, nuts or any combination of these delicious ingredients. This tasty rice dish is usually made on special occasions, holidays & festivals.
Many of you may be more familiar with the Indian biryani dishes. But what differentiates a biryani from a pulao is that in a biryani, all the ingredients are cooked separately, then layered together and finally baked. In contrast, a pulao combines all of the ingredients together in one cooking pot - which is then cooked directly on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker or rice cooker.
The classic combination of chickpeas and mint is truly a match made in heaven. This lovely rice dish combines delicious flavors, tastes and texture all in one yummy bite.
CHICKPEA & MINT PULAO
2 cups Basmati rice, washed twice and drained well
1 can cooked chickpeas, drained well (about 12-14 ounce size can)
2-3 shallots, finely minced
1” piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
3-4 dried red chilies, to taste
½ cup of toasted pine nuts (you can use cashew pieces or sliced almonds)
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick (approximately 2 inches in length)
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cardamom powder
salt & pepper, to taste
freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp butter or ghee (clarified butter)
3¾ cups of water
handful of toasted pine nuts for garnish
freshly chopped mint leaves for garnish
In a large deep skillet on medium high heat, add the butter or ghee. When melted, add the cumin seeds along with the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Stir for about a minute or two and then add the shallots, ginger, dried red chilies and pine nuts. Now add the allspice and ground cardamom powder. Stir and let cook for a few minutes and then add the rice. Mix well to coat the rice grains with all the aromatics and let cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often. The rice will become very fragrant with a nutty aroma. Remember to season the rice with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Then add the water, chickpeas, cover and reduce the heat to low. Do not open or stir the rice for 18-20 minutes. Lastly, remove from the heat and allow the rice to rest for at least 5 minutes or so. Fluff gently with a fork and then garnish with the extra pine nuts and mint leaves. Serve hot with your favorite dishes as part of any Indian meal.
Traditionally, delicious caramelized onions are often used to garnish pulao dishes. These are simple to make but do take time & patience, they are well worth it & you will be rewarded.
Slice 1 large onion very thinly & fry it in about 2 tbsp of ghee (or butter) over medium heat. Next, add a pinch of salt & stir occasionally. The onions will gradually become softened & translucent at first, then they will reduce & become golden brown. This may take up to 25-30 minutes (or slightly longer), but it’s totally worth the extra little effort.