Bengali Holud polao (Aromatic rice pulao with turmeric)10:16 AM
Tomorrow is Nababarsho(Bengli new year) and your posted such everyday curry recipes on the Blog? Chimed the husband in the phone.
I felt puzzled, is he joking? Tomorrow is what?
And if that was not enough you said you are still in denial that Winter got over when you were busy. how funny is it to say that in middle of April? have you totally lost it?
I mumbled but dint look for an answer rather tried sorting the order of events in my head. The sonny boy's new session started on 9th and it's exactly a week after that ...Poila Boisakh or the first day of Bengali new year generally falls around 14th of April...which means yes Its almost poila boisakh.
But is it tomorrow? am still in Denial. Are you sure? I asked the husband almost in disbelief.
You are using that word too often. He replied. and just as an afterthought added, Does this mean nothing special for us tomorrow?
But by then I was too busy to leaf around my trusted Benimadhob Shil er Ponjika. Half an hour later I was scouring the fridge and the cupboard to look for something to cook something special.
It's not the usual scene at home. Generally am too enthusiastic and always look for occassions to cook and feed my family but the past couple of months we are going through too much. With kids and parents falling sick and getting hospitalised one after another I almost lost count of the days and hours. Now that Baba is back home after his Bypass Surgery I finally got sometime to think straight. But before I could breadth it's Nababarsho.
So here's wishing all my lovely readers a very happy Bengali New year or as we say in Bengali, Notun bachorer anek shubheccha. And before you start blaming for posting Ghasphus(veggies dishes) here is one recipe to amend that.
|Holud Polao as part of my Son's 5th Birthday Platter with five types of fries, Chicken curry and Payes|
This sweet yellow pulao, mildly flavoured with green cardamoms and bay leaves, is a very special dish in Bengal. The sweetness in the pulao makes it a perfect accompaniment to Mutton curry and that combo is a must for any good Bengali celebration. Though for some unknown reason Maa never cooked it at home and I learnt this dish from others. After some more experimentation here is the recipe that works for me.
You can use any good quality rice but I prefer to cook it with the most authentic way that is with supremely fragrant short grained Gobindobhog rice. More tips in the Notes section.
Bengali Houd Pulao
Gobindobhog rice: 2 cups
Cashews: 1/4 cup
Turmeric Powder: 3/4 tsp
Sugar: 4 tbsp
Ghee: 2 tbsp
White oil: 1 tbsp
Bay leaf: 1
Peppercorns: 1/2 tsp
Green cardamom: 2
Black cardamom: 1
Cinnamon: 1" piece
Salt: 1/3 tsp
Lemon juice: 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder: 1/3 tsp
Nutmeg powder: a fat pinch
Wash the rice in several changes of water to wash away all the impurities and starch. Soak in clean water for 30 minutes. Whatever rice you are using dont skip the soaking part. This lets the grains soak the water and prevent them from breaking while cooked.
Drain and spread on a few sheets of news paper to dry.
Once they are dry Take it in a big plate and 1 tbsp ghee, turmeric, salt and garam masala powder. Mix very gently and keep aside.
Before you start cooking keep everything ready and warm 4 cups of water by your side.
Heat the rest of the oil and ghee in a heavy flat bottomed pan. Add the bay leaf. Next add lightly pounded clove, cinnamon, cardamoms and pepper corns. Once they start to splutter grate in the fresh ginger (do not use the readymade paste, if you do not have fresh ginger then skip it). Stir and when they reease the aroma add the cashews. Fry the nuts on low till they turn golden and then tip in washed rasins. They will immediately plump up so next add the rice.
Stir the rice as gently as possible for 3-4 minutes or till you see the rice grains are look glossy. Next add the sugar and mix in very gently. Be sure not to caramelise the sugar by cooking it on high. cook for a couple of minutes and then add the warm water. Mix.Check if you need to adjust the taste.
Grate some nutmeg on top, Less is the key here. Add the lemon juice. Mix.
Stove top Method
Crank up the heat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan tightly and let it cook slowly for 12-15 minutes. Do not remove the cover at any point of time. Towards the end of your cooking time check the rice if it's soft.
Switch off the flame and remove the lid. Cover the pan with a big piece of clean kitchen towel. Put the lid back on top of it. Let it stand for 5-6 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
After adding the water to the rice transfer the entire mixture to a big oven proof bowl. Seal it with a big piece of cling wrap. Make a slit in the center and cook on high for 15 minutes. Very carefully remove the wrap.
Check if the rice is done. Then Cover the pan with a big piece of clean kitchen towel. Put the lid back on top of it. Let it stand for 5-6 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
A Homemaker's Notes:
1.You can use any rice Basmati, good quality Atop or Gobindobhog. Make sure to follow the washing and soaking instruction properly for best result.
2. You can also add some tender peas to it too. Fry them with the nuts and raisins.
3. As tastes are very personal I will urge that if you are trying it for the first time start with less sugar. Say 2 tbsp. Once you add the water taste it. If needed add more sugar.
4. Don't skimp on oil or Ghee. This is a big part of the taste.
5. At a lunch once I had a pulao which had Meetha ator added in too. It imparts a nice aroma, if you want a differently fragrant pulao go for it.