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. My Orange & Ginger Scented Pulao has always been in high demand - it’s light, refreshing & full of delicious flavors.
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 stove top or in a pressure cooker or rice cooker.
ORANGE & GINGER SCENTED PULAO
2 cups basmati rice, washed & drained well
2-3 shallots, finely minced
1½” piece of ginger, peeled & finely grated
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 green cardamom pods (gently cracked open)
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick (approximately 2 inches in length)
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tbsp fresh orange zest
¼ cup of toasted unsalted almonds slivers (or cashews or pistachios, rough chopped)
½ cup golden raisins, soaking in a little warm water
2¾ cups of water
1 cup of fresh orange juice
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp of saffron threads (soaked in 2 tbsp of milk for at least 10 minutes)
2 tbsp butter or ghee (clarified butter)
½ cup of fresh orange segments
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
handful of toasted unsalted almond slivers for garnish
In a large wide skillet (a paella pan works great), heat the butter or ghee on medium heat. When melted, add the cumin seeds. After a minute or so, add the shallots and ginger. Stir continuously so as not to burn, & let cook for a few minutes. Now add the spices (cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, salt & pepper). Stir and let the spices cook for just a minute or two, then add in the orange zest, almond slivers and golden raisins along with any soaking liquid. Mix well to combine and then add the rice. Mix well to coat the rice grains and stir for an additional 3-4 minutes. Now add the water & orange juice, cover and reduce the heat to low. Do not open or stir the rice for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the freshly grated nutmeg & saffron (along with any soaking liquid). Allow the rice to rest for about 5 minutes or so, then gently fluff the rice using a fork. Garnish with the orange segments, cilantro leaves, & toasted almond slivers - serve with your favorite Indian dishes.
Feel free to add orange flavored craisins to the dish if you like. You could also garnish the dish with a handful of pomegranate seeds for a lovely burst of both color & flavor.