July 31, 2013

Dal Palak

Sometimes "Simple is better"! Especially with a recipe like this, I can totally relate to the phrase! With a few basic ingredients and a handful of lentils, this recipe goes a long way in fulfilling hungry stomachs & hearts! A bowl of hot dal palak, roti/rice and a cup of yogurt makes a hearty, healthy & comforting meal.

This recipe is really simple & quick that you can put it up in a jiffy! Effectively, this recipe needs only 15 mins of your time, as the dal has to simmer & cook in the remaining time. Ideal for anyone who is low on energy or hard-pressed for time!

Basic Info
Complexity - Simple
Prep time - 5 mins
Cook time - 25 mins
Serves - 3-4

Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Garlic - 2 cloves (grated)
Ginger - 1 inch (grated)
Green chillies - 2 nos (slit)
Onion - 1 no (small, chopped)
Tomato - 1 no (chopped)
Moong dal - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Spinach leaves - 1 bunch (or) 2 cups, packed tightly (roughly chopped)
Oil - 1 tsp

Heat oil in a medium sauce pan. Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Next, add the slit green chilli, grated ginger, grated garlic and stir for a min. Add chopped onion and stir until soft. Add chopped tomatoes and cook on medium for about 5 mins. To this, add moong dal and stir for 2 more minutes.

Add 3 cups of water, turmeric powder, salt and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover the saucepan and cook for about 15 minutes until moong dal is done. Using the back of a ladle, lightly mash the dal & tomatoes. Add spinach leaves and let it cook for couple of mins. Add more water to the dal and adjust to the required consistency.

Serve hot with roti.

July 29, 2013

Paneer Pakoda

It is one of those relaxed Sunday afternoons.. you are lazing your time away in the couch trying to watch a movie or something on TV .. but, with that deadly combination of a hearty, satisfying lunch and the cool breeze from the window, you are too wired to doze off .. and when you are so ready to shut your eye lids, that sudden loud sound from the play room jerks you up .. yet, not wanting to get up, just shouting out to your kids to make sure that things are okay and get back to TV to catch up from where you'd left ..

I am sure this would be one of the most common sunday-afternoon-scenes after that l-o-o-o-o-o-ng tiring week. Just imagine this scene with a bowl of 'something-to-munch' or 'paneer pakoda' accompanied by a hot mug of strong coffee.. what a perfect way to end your weekend?!

And, can I proudly say that this is one of my original recipes! I simply put up this recipe on the fly with whatever available in my pantry and voila., paneer pakoda was ready! Every ingredient in this recipe complemented every other ingredient so well that you wouldn't want to stop munching!

My proportion of chickpea flour & rice flour (2:1) gives a soft texture to the pakodas, but if you want a crunchier texture make it 1:2. Check out my other pakoda recipe here, if you want to make crispy onion pakodas. Adjust the number of green chillies and chili powder to make it a perfect snack for the kids!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 10 mins
Cook time - 20 mins
Serves - 2-3

Besan (chickpea flour) - 2 cups
Rice flour - 1 cup
Grated paneer - 1/4 - 1/2 cup (use more or less as you prefer)
Mint leaves - 2 - 3 tbsp (use more or less as you prefer)
Green chillies - 2 nos (finely chopped)
Ginger - 1 inch (grated)
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp (adjust to your taste)
Hing - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Oil - for deep frying

Grate paneer block, ginger and keep it aside. Chop green chillies & mint leaves into fine pieces and set aside.

Heat oil (just enough to fry) in a deep pan (on medium heat).

In a large bowl, mix together besan, rice flour, grated paneer, chopped mint leaves, chopped green chillies, grated ginger, hing, salt, red chilli powder, salt and ghee.

To this mixture, add as much water as needed and mix until everything starts to come together. Add just enough water to make a stiff dough.

When the oil is hot enough, take a medium sized ball of dough, use your fingers to press & drop the dough into the oil to form small, bite-sized fritters (don't bother about the shape) and deep fry until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the oil.

Drain excess oil in a paper towel and serve hot.

- You can also add chopped onion, if you like.
- Do not make the dough ahead of time. Make dough as the oil is getting heated.

July 25, 2013

Potato Beans Curry

I had no clue that potato and beans would go so well together until I actually got to taste it at my office cafeteria here in the US. It was one of those times when the cafe got expanded with Indian lunch on the menu and I was so happy that I could try something homey, hot & spicy, apart from the usual salads & sandwiches. First day on the menu, a piece of naan, paneer subzi, aloo beans subzi & a little white rice - I was literally drooling at the mouth-watering combo. Though it was a little pricey, I loved all of them, and of all, aloo-beans subzi was my favorite. 

Since then, I have been making this at home, but only recently I got the actual recipe and also learnt that it is a Punjabi speciality! This recipe of potato & beans pairs up so well with rice/roti. 

The trick to get a flavorful subzi is to slow-cook potatoes & beans on low heat until they are completely cooked and all the flavors of the masala are blended in. If you are pressed with time, you can cover & cook, but you might not be able to get that roasted texture on potatoes. Tender (french) beans works best for this recipe, but you can substitute with regular beans too! 

Try this subzi and I hope, you would love it as much as we did!

Basic Info
Complexity - Simple
Prep time - 15 mins
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 3-4

Potatoes - 4-5 nos (medium sized)
French Beans - 2 cups (1 inch long pieces)
Turmeric powder - 3/4 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Pav Bhaji Masala - 1 tsp (replace with garam masala)
Amchur powder - 1 tsp
Hing - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp

Chop potatoes & beans into 1 inch long pieces.

Take a thick-bottomed pan and heat 2 tbsp of oil. When hot, add potatoes and cook for 3-4 mins. Stir once in between.

Next, add beans and stir well so that the oil coats all the beans. Let the beans & potatoes cook for about 10 mins on low-medium heat. Stir in between so that the vegetables doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, hing & salt and cook for about 8-10 mins on low-medium heat until all the flavors are blended in.

Finally, add pav bhaji masala, amchur powder, give it a mix and saute until the beans are completely cooked and the potatoes are crispy.

Remove from heat and serve with roti/rice.

July 24, 2013

Honeydew Melon Juice

A deliciously nutritious drink for your breakfast table, good enough to charge you up for the day. As other fruits, honeydew melon is a summer fruit that has lot of nutrients like vitamin C, folic acid, potassium & minerals etc. Of all the melons (honeydew, cantaloupe, musk melon, water melon), honeydew melon is the sweetest and that 's why the name "h-o-n-e-y"dew!

Personally, this is the first time I am tasting this fruit and I totally loved it in the form of juice. I ended up picking this fruit by mistake, while looking for musk melon. It was sitting on my countertop for almost a week now, when I finally decided to make juice with it. Interestingly, the fruit was super ripe (could be due to the week long resting), the flesh was very soft and the juice tasted just right; subtly sweet (taste of this fruit is not really over-powering), pulpy & thick. 

I am sipping into a glass of honeydew melon juice as I am writing this - perfectly refreshing on a dry, sultry afternoon.

Basic Info
Complexity - Simple
Prep time - 5 mins
Cook time - 5 mins
Serves - 1 cup

Honeydew Melon - 1 heaped cup of 1/2 inch cubes
Sugar - as required
Ice cubes - as required

Wash and cut the melon into two halves. Peel & discard the rind. Scoop out the seeds using a spoon and discard. Cut the melon into 1/2 inch cubes. 

Transfer the cut melon cubes into a blender and run the blender on high speed for 3 mins (or) until all the melon pieces are blended to a smooth juicy consistency.

Add ice cubes and serve chilled.

- Always serve fruit juices fresh to get the most benefit of its nutrients.
- You can add a tsp of lime juice to enhance its flavor.
- Pick honeydew melons that are smooth & soft on the outside and that feels heavier for its size.
- Pale yellow skin with brown veins denotes that the fruit is ripe.
- This fruit in particular is a good choice for those who want to control diabetes. 

July 19, 2013

Instant Vegetable-Oats Adai

Another quick, instant & healthy breakfast idea for the busy mornings! Loaded with fiber-rich oats and vegetables, couple of adai can go a long way between two meals.

Check out my other "Oats adai" recipe here which requires atleast a couple of hours of planning & prep ahead, but this recipe of adai is "super" instant and the batter can be put together in less than 20 mins, which is a BIG plus! Also, adai prepared in the traditional way can get very heavy because of the rice & channa dal in it. But, this instant adai is very light and works pretty well for breakfast too!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 20 mins
Cook time - 20 mins
Serves - 8 - 10 adai

Oats - 2 cups
Besan - 1/2 cup
Rice flour - 1/2 cup
Green Chillies - 1 (finely chopped)
Ginger - 1 inch (grated)
Carrot - 1 (grated)
Bell pepper - 1/4 (finely chopped)
Cabbage - 1/2 cup (shredded)
Coriander leaves - a bunch (finely chopped)
Curry leaves - 1 sprig (finely chopped)
Salt - to taste
Sesame oil - as needed

Use a food processor/mixie and powder the oats.

Mix powdered oats, rice flour, besan, chopped vegetables, salt, grated ginger, finely chopped coriander leaves and curry leaves in a bowl. Add just enough water until it forms a slightly thick batter.

Heat a griddle and pour a ladle full of batter and spread slightly from the center to outwards. Add a tsp of oil around the adai and cook both the sides on medium heat.

Quick & healthy vegetable oats adai is ready to be served. Serve hot with pickle or chutney of your choice.

- You can also add finely chopped onion (1 no) to the batter.

July 18, 2013

Gongura Thogayal

Last week, I was at Indian grocers and fresh bunches of gongura (sorrel leaves) were calling out to me from almost every other shopping cart. And, that's how a bunch of fresh gongura leaves found its way into my pantry too! Even better, I have a telugu family (from Andhra) who recently moved in next door. Now, do the math yourself!!

July 16, 2013

Instant Godhumai Dosai

A good & healthy alternative to the regular dosai! Regular dosai needs much planning ahead right from soaking rice & lentils (for atleast 5 hrs) uptil fermentation that takes about 8-10 hrs, whereas godhumai dosa is instant, tasty and healthy too! Thin & crispy dosai on a leisurely weekend, that too with kathirikkai kootu on the side... couldn 't ask for more!!

The only downside in making Godhumai dosai is that it is extremely laborious, especially if you are new. It takes time & practice to master the art of making a perfectly lacy & crispy dosai. 

Few things to watch out to get a perfect dosai.
- Batter consistency - with thick batter, you cannot get the lacy effect and thin batter will break.
- Griddle should be rightly hot - splash some water onto the griddle and you should hear it sizzle right away.
- Cooking time - Wait before you flip the dosai. Trying too soon will break the dosai.
- Heat - Always cook on medium heat, if you wish for crispy, golden dosai.

So, don' t lose your heart out! Just keep trying and I am sure you 'll get there!!

Another thing that I am very happy about is the video tutorial (check it towards the end of the post). This is my first venture in posting a video and I am really glad with the way it turned out. A quick 32 sec video that is short, crisp yet conveys what I 'd wanted to. It took me quite a while to learn how to edit, voice-over etc, but it was total fun. Let 's hope to see more such video tutorials in the future!

Basic Info
Complexity - Difficult (making dosa part)
Prep time - upto 1 hr (includes resting time)
Cook time - 30 mins - 1 hr (depends on how many dosas you make in a sitting)
Serves - about 20 dosas

Wheat flour - 1 cup
Rice flour - 1/2 cup
Sooji/Rava - 1/4 cup
Buttermilk - 1 cup
Ginger - 1 inch (grated)
Green chillies - 2 nos (finely chopped)
Salt - to taste
Hing - 1-2 pinches
Oil -1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp

Mix wheat flour, rice flour, rava well. To this, add buttermilk, salt, grated ginger, green chilies, hing and mix without any lumps. Add 1-2 cups of water as required to make it into a thick batter.

Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat oil, splutter mustard seeds, sizzle cumin seeds and mix into the batter. Let the batter sit for 30 mins - 1 hr.

After the resting time, add more water (as required) to the batter to make it to watery consistency (Check the video to know how watery the batter should be; see me pouring the batter onto the griddle).

Heat a flat griddle on medium. When hot, pour the batter in a circular motion from top (refer to the video) and let it cook for upto 2 mins. If required, you can flip it to the other side and let it cook for another min before taking the dosa off heat.

Serve with some spicy side and enjoy!

Video Tutorial - on how to make instant dosa

- Store the excess batter (if any) in the fridge and use it within 2-3 days.

July 15, 2013

Kathirikkai Kootu

I have been touring a lot lately and I got to taste this kootu at my sis 's place. With pongal, this kootu tasted amazingly good and I fell in love with it instantly. Another great eggplant recipe to satisfy the taste buds of "kathirikkai lover" that I have at home! Yes, VJ loved this kootu and he was literally drinking ladles after ladles ;)

This recipe is very close to "kathirikkai rasavangi" minus mashed toor dal plus onions & tomatoes. The plus & minus works just right as a side for tiffin items. A quick, different & tasty break from the regular chutney/sambar routine.

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 20 mins
Cook time - 20 mins
Serves - 4-5

Eggplants - 8 nos (small, chopped into small cubes)
Onion - 1 no (small, chopped into small pieces)
Tomato - 1 no (medium, chopped into small pieces)
Tamarind - size of gooseberry
Oil - 1-2 tsp (preferably sesame oil)
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Whole urad dal - 1.5 tsp
Channa dal - 1.5 tsp
Curry leaves - 1-2 sprigs
Salt - to taste

To roast & grind
Hing - 1 small piece
Channa dal - 1.5 tsp
Red chillies - 2-3 nos (depending on the spice level you like)
Coriander seeds - 2 tsp
Coconut - 1 tsp

Roast all the ingredients except coconut under 'To roast & grind' in a tsp of oil. Let it cool and grind along with coconut to a pasty consistency (use as less water as possible) and keep it aside.

Boil chopped eggplants in some water until soft and keep it ready.

Soften tamarind in hot water and when cold, extract about 1 cup of tamarind juice and set it aside. 

Meanwhile, heat 1-2 tsp of sesame oil in a saucepan, crackle mustard seeds, fry urad dal, channa dal until golden brown. Add chopped onion and saute until soft and translucent. Then, add chopped tomatoes and saute until soft. 

To this, add turmeric powder, tamarind water, boiled eggplants, salt and let them cook until the raw smell of tamarind is gone (about 6-8 mins). If required, add water and adjust the consistency of the gravy per your liking.

Finally, add the ground paste and let the gravy come to a boil. Remove from heat.

Garnish with curry leaves and serve hot with idli, dosa, pongal, upma, rice .. you name it! Enjoy!!

- Cooking eggplants separately in boiling water works well compared to cooking it directly in tamarind water.

Gulab Jamun

I am back. Just like a child who is afraid to go back to school after a break - not wanting to go for the fear of teachers, classes, homework etc., yet willing to go for friends and all the fun that she could have. I am in a similar mindset now! 

Had a good vacation, got to spend the entire break with my parents, had the pleasure of seeing them catch up with my kids, touring around new places, eating some real good food made by mom - was total fun & relaxing!

But, when the thought of blogging actually struck me, I felt stranded. I really had no clue where to start or how to go about it. Somehow, made up my mind and gathered all the strength to start the journey again, with something sweet - a dessert!

Gulab Jamuns - deep fried milk/cheese balls soaked in rose flavored sugar syrup - is VJ 's absolute favorite. He is such a big fan of this dessert that he makes it a point to order it whenever we eat out at Indian restaurants. VJ loves fresh & warm jamuns, though most of the restaurant version are 1 or 2 days old which are obviously microwaved & served. Sometimes, the jamun 's exterior is so hard that you successfully break it, only to eat jamuns that are either uncooked or not properly soaked.

In the past, I have prepared gulab jamuns at home using instant mixes. But, for whatever reasons, VJ has never been happy with them. Instant mixes have always ended in soft (to mushy sometimes) jamuns (atleast for me) and quite frankly, I had no way to find where I was going wrong (or) how to make them better.

Couple of months ago, as I was blog hopping, I stumbled upon this recipe of making jamuns right from the scratch using milk powder and I was ecstatic! Since then, I just couldn't wait to try my hand at the recipe. Jamuns turned out to be so good that it held its shape better than the instant mix version.

Jamuns ended up having a perfect exterior, neither too soft nor too hard, but just right so that you could cut through it with a spoon to enjoy its juicy center! VJ thought these were the best home-made jamuns ever!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 25 mins
Cook time - 25 mins
Serves - 18-20 jamuns

Sugar Syrup
Sugar - 1.5 cups
Water - 1 1/4 cups
Green cardamom seeds - from 4 pods
Saffron - few strands (optional)
Rose water - 1/8 cup (optional)

Full cream milk powder - 1 cup (I used DANO milk powder)
All-purpose flour - 1/4 cup
Baking powder - 1/4 tsp
Baking soda - 1/8 tsp
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Ghee, at room temperature - 3 tbsp
Whole milk, at room temperature - 1/4 cup (more or less, as required)
Oil for deep-frying

Sugar Syrup
Bring sugar & water to a boil. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Let the syrup boil for 3-4 minutes on medium heat and remove from the stove. Let it cool and then, add powdered cardamom seeds, saffron threads, rose water. Keep it aside.

In a large bowl, mix milk powder, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom powder, salt really well. Add ghee and rub between fingers so that the flour mixture is moistened. Now, add required milk and mix to get a soft but sticky dough. Cover the dough with a wet kitchen towel and let it sit for 5 mins.

Heat oil in a kadai/frying pan on medium heat. While the oil is heating, grease your palms with ghee and start making balls out of the dough. Make about 15 - 20 balls of equal size and roll them into smooth, soft balls (without any cracks). Place these balls in a plate covered with a wet kitchen towel until ready for frying.

When the oil is hot enough, slowly drop the balls one-by-one into the oil and fry them until golden brown (or a shade darker as you prefer). Drain the fried balls in a paper towel and let them cool.

In the meanwhile, if the sugar syrup is cold, put it back on the stove for it to warm up.

Place all the fried balls in a flat, shallow pan and pour the sugar syrup all over the balls until it uniformly covers all the balls. Let it remain undisturbed for atleast 20 mins for the balls to soak all the sugar syrup.

- Do not knead the dough too hard as you would do with chapathi dough. Just mix the ingredients gently until it forms a dough.
- Always keep the dough/rolled balls covered with wet towel so that it doesn't dry up and having cracks all over. If the dough is dry, sprinkle little water / milk and mix it well.
- While rolling the balls, make sure they are smooth and have no cracks.
- Do not roll the balls too big, as it doubles in size after frying and soaking in sugar syrup.
- Oil should not be very hot. If the oil is too hot, the exterior of the jamuns cooks faster and ends up with a center that is not cooked enough.
- To check the readiness of the oil, just drop a small ball of dough and it should take a couple of seconds before it starts to bubble-up and raises to the top.
- Do not over-crowd the frying pan, as you need space to roll the balls for even browning.
- While frying, keep flipping the balls around for even browning.
- Sugar syrup should be warm to hot (not boiling hot), shouldn't be cold either.
- Fried balls needs to be cooled down before soaking in the sugar syrup, for it to hold its shape better.

July 12, 2013

Lemon Aval/Poha

Looking for a quick-fix breakfast for your busy mornings? Want something to fix those li 'l rumbling tummies of your kids after a long day at school? Are you in need of a quick recipe to cook up a light dinner and call it a day? Look no further, you are at the right post!

Lemon Aval is such a simple & easy recipe to put together. There are no fancy ingredients in this recipe yet the refreshing taste of lime & the bright yellow color of upma is sure to lighten up your day! I made this for breakfast today and we all loved it. Lip-smackingly good it was!

Basic Info
Complexity - Simple
Prep time - 10 mins
Cook time - 10 mins
Serves - 2

Thick aval/poha - 1.5 cups
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Channa dal - 1 tsp
Urad dal (whole) - 1 tsp
Peanuts - 1/8 cup
Cashews - 1/8 cup (broken into small pieces)
Dry red chillies - 2 nos (broken into 2 halves)
Thai green chili - 1 no (slit vertically)
Hing - 1/ 4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp (preferably sesame oil)
Lime juice - from 1/2 big green lime (adjust according to your taste)

Wash and soak aval/poha in water for about 10-15 mins. Time of soaking depends on the thickness of aval. Thin aval, if soaked for long time will end up being soggy.

Heat oil in a wide pan. When hot, add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Next, add cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Now add channa dal, urid dal, peanuts, cashews and fry until golden brown. To this, add dry red chillies, green chili, turmeric powder, hing and give a quick stir. Finally, add soaked aval/poha, salt and mix well. After a min or so, remove from the stove.

To this, add lime juice and mix well. Garnish with cilantro and lemon poha is ready to be enjoyed!

July 11, 2013

Kadai Paneer

Kadai paneer is a punjabi speciality where paneer cubes are cooked with tomatoes, onion and bell pepper in a blend of Indian spices. This simple but flavor-packed paneer recipe develops its flavors mainly from freshly pounded spices (coriander seeds & red chillies). Also, letting the onions & tomatoes simmer until it reduces to a thick paste helps in developing maximum flavors.

Using a good branded paneer definitely adds to the taste. If you have the luxury of time, try making your own paneer to know what a significant difference it brings to the taste of the dish. Lately, I have been picking up "zee foods desi paneer" from our local Indian grocers here and all of us at home seem to love it and that's only because it tastes very close to home-made paneer. You too should try this brand if it's available at your local grocers.

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 15 mins
Cook time - 20 mins
Serves - 4

Paneer cubes - 10 oz (about 300 gms)

Bell pepper - 1 no (medium sized, cubed)
Onion - 1 no (medium sized, cubed)
Ginger - 1 inch (grated)
Thai green chilli - 1 no
Tomatoes - 3 nos (medium sized, chopped)

Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Dry red chillies - 2 nos (optional, if you prefer milder version like me)

Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp

Kasoori Methi - 1 tsp
Cilantro - 1 tbsp

Salt - to taste
Oil - 2-3 tbsp

Dry roast coriander seeds and red chillies (if you are using). Let it cool and crush them into coarse powder. Keep it aside.

In a pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil and fry paneer cubes until slightly brown on all sides. Drain the excess oil in a kitchen towel.

In the same pan, add cubed capsicum, couple of pinches of salt and saute for couple of mins. It is important that the capsicum cubes remains crisp and doesn't get over-cooked/soggy. Remove and drain excess oil in a kitchen towel.

In the same pan, add a tbsp of oil. When hot add crushed spice powder (coriander seeds & red chilli powder) and saute for few seconds. Then, add onion, ginger, garlic, green chilli and saute until onion turns soft and translucent.

Now, add chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, chilli powder, garam masala, coriander powder, required salt and let it cook for about 8-10 mins until the raw smell of tomatoes and spice powders are gone and the oil starts to ooze out from the sides.

To this, add paneer cubes, capsicum cubes, kasoori methi and let it cook for about 3-4 mins until the masala coats all the paneer & capsicum cubes. Sprinkle little water if necessary.

Remove from heat, garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve hot with roti / rice.

- If you like ginger, you can also use julienned ginger strips for garnish.
- Please note that paneer tends to get rubbery if you over-cook it.

July 10, 2013

Mint Pulao (Stove Top Method)

Mint pulao is quite a regular affair in our household, but what is new is the stovetop cooking. This is the first time I am trying pulao directly in a saucepan on the stovetop versus in a pressure cooker. Surprisingly enough, the rice was cooked to perfection compared to the pressure cooker method that  I am so used to. I should admit that this is the "fluffiest ever" pulao that I 've made, where the rice is long, whole, firm yet soft and flavorful.

The trick behind getting a perfect pulao is .,

Tight-fitting pot lid - to not let the steam escape which helps in getting a even texture.
Right amount of water - basmati rice usually requires 2 parts of water but use only 1.5 parts, if the rice is soaked in water for atleast 30 mins before cooking.
Cook under even & gentle heatInitially, bring the water & rice to a rolling boil on high heat, and then let it simmer & cook on low heat for about 10-12 mins.
Post-cooking resting period Resting period of about 10 mins is very much essential for the rice to dry and lose out the wet/steamed texture.

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 10 mins
Cook time - 25 mins
Serves - 4

Basmati rice - 1.5 cups

Onion - 1 no (Medium sized, chopped)
Ginger - 1 inch (grated)
Frozen shelled edamame - 1/2 cup (replace it with peas)

Mint leaves - 1/4 cup
Cilantro leaves - 1/4 cup
Thai green chilli - 1 no

Bay leaf - 1 no
Cardamom pods - 1 no
Cloves - 2 nos
Cinnamon stick - 1 inch

Oil - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp (optional)
Salt - to taste

Cashews - few (optional)

Rinse the rice in water for a couple of times, drain and keep it aside.

Grind mint leaves, cilantro leaves, green chilli into a fine paste (using as little water as possible). To the paste, add water to measure about 3 cups and keep it aside.

In a thick bottomed saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of oil. When hot, fry bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves until fragrant. To this, add onion, grated ginger and saute until onion turns soft and translucent. Now, add washed/drained rice, peas and saute for a min or two until rice turns crisp. Take care not to burn the rice.

Finally, add water (mint+cilantro water mix), ghee (if using), salt and give it a good mix. When the water starts to boil and as the rice starts to expand, close the saucepan with a lid and let it simmer on low heat. After 10 mins, switch off the stove. Leave the saucepan undisturbed for another 10 mins. Do not remove the lid.

After 10 mins, fluff up the rice with a fork and garnish with roasted cashews. Hot & tasty pulao is ready to be served! Cool raitha with chips makes perfect accompaniment.

- Rice expands as it cooks, so use a saucepan large enough to accommodate. A 2-quart saucepan for one to two cups of uncooked rice is a good size.
- Don't take off the lid while the rice is cooking — this lets the steam out and affects the cooking time.
- Do not mix / peek / open the lid while the rice is cooking.
- Sending this off to Made with Love Mondays!