The state of Kashmir is located in Northern India, in the region of the Himalayas. It was a strong trade route between the Middle East, Central Asia and the rest of India. This distinctive rice dish has those wonderful Middle Eastern and Persian influences making it very unique.
Kashmiri Pulao is a delicious and decadent rice dish. It combines fragrant long grain Basmati rice with aromatic spices, dried fruits and nuts. The use of saffron adds an extra special layer of flavor and heavenly aroma. Saffron is considered the world’s most exotic spice and is also the most expensive, so use it sparingly. A little definitely goes a long way.
There are many variations to this dish. You could try different varieties of dried fruits and nuts. You can also add pieces of fresh fruit (such as cherries, green apples, pineapple…) just before serving.
Yield: 4 servings
2 cups Basmati rice, washed twice & drained well
2-3 shallots, finely minced
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
1" piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
4 green cardamom pods (gently cracked open)
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick (approximately 2-3 inches in length)
¼ tsp of saffron threads (soaked in 2 tbsp of milk for at least 15-20 minutes)
¼ cup of golden raisins (sultanas)
¼ cup of dried apricots, chopped
¼ cup of dried pitted dates, chopped
¼ cup of shelled pistachios, lightly toasted
¼ cup of skinless almonds, lightly toasted
¼ cup of cashews, lightly toasted
salt & pepper, to taste
2 tbsp butter or ghee (clarified butter)
3¾ cups of water
handful of toasted nuts for garnish
edible rose petals for garnish (optional)
In a large wide skillet (a paella pan works great), heat the butter or ghee on medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic and ginger. Stir continuously so as not to burn, then add the spices (cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon, salt and pepper). Stir and add the dried fruits and nuts. Mix well to combine and add the rice. Mix well to coat the rice grains and stir for an additional 3-4 minutes. Drizzle the saffron and milk mixture into the rice, stir and add the water, cover and reduce the heat to low. Do not open or stir the rice for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the rice to rest for 5 minutes or so. Garnish with the extra nuts and edible rose petals and serve with your favorite Indian dishes.
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.
Feel free to add some fresh diced apples or fresh pomegranate seeds to this dish. Just stir them in at the end, cover & let the rice rest for 5-10 minutes.