For Shinae Choi Robinson’s Indian Cookalong Event, see here:

Originally shared by Rajini Rao

Practically Perfect Basmati Rice Pulao

1. Presoak the Basmati rice: Measure out 2 cups. Rinse a few times under cold running water and drain. Season the wet rice with coarse salt, a pinch of sugar and some red chilli powder. Toss together gently, and let sit for about 20 minutes while you prep the rest of the pilaf.

2. Preheat the Water: Measure out 4 cups of water into a pot and heat on the back burner.

3. Prepare the Veggies: Grate two carrots, wash the spinach and set aside. Thinly slice one large onion.

4. Measure out Spices: 2-3 cardamom pods, split (you ought to save the shells for tea, but I left them in), 2 bay leaves, a cinnamon stick, 3-5 cloves and a tablespoon of fennel seed.

5. Nuts and dried fruits: Set aside a good handful of mixed nuts and dry fruits including some or all of the following: almonds, pistachios, cashews, cranberries, raisins, and cherries.

6. Heat 2-3 tbs of oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the spices. When they sizzle, add the sliced onion and fry until lightly browned. Then add the grated carrots and spinach, and stir in. Add the mixed nuts and dry fruits. Add the presoaked rice and mix in very gently (so as not to break the grains).

7. Pour the hot water into the rice mixture and stir in. You can dot it with some butter or ghee for additional richness. Cover with a lid and let it steam on low for another 10 min. The water should be completely absorbed and leave small holes on the surface of the rice.

8. Serve with Raita: Simply peel and grate a cucumber into a bowl. Add plain yogurt (store bought or homemade) and mix in thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.

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37 Responses to COOKALONG RECIPE POST #1

  1. Bob Calder says:

    Salt the cucumber and let it stand in the refrigerator for 15 min then squeeze the water out prior to mixing in strained yoghurt for a rich and thick goodness!

  2. Rajini Rao says:

    I hear you, Shaker Cherukuri . I eat everything but strategize with small sample size 🙂

  3. Rajini Rao says:

    I’ve tried that for Shinae’s crunchy Korean pickle, Bob Calder . I’ll give it a try when I make the raita next time, good idea!

  4. Rajini Rao says:

    Thex Dar , it’s just ordinary vegetable oil (canola, I think), but I do use a bland olive oil for Indian food sometimes..whatever comes up when I reach into the cabinet under the stove top 🙂

  5. Zee L says:

    I’m hungry!

    Thanks for sharing Rajini Rao. I will definitely cook this soon!

  6. Rajini Rao says:

    Let me know how your version turns out, thanks Zee L !

  7. Rajesh Barik says:

    dinner time …..hmmm i will make it some day..ha ha ha 

  8. Mary W. says:

    Food Porn Friday!

  9. Another award-winning biryani! Recipe tested in the Orono test-kitchen: result :)

  10. Rajini Rao says:

    Gnotic Pasta , saffron is a great addition. Why did I not think of it? It would go well with the dried fruits and nuts. Kashmiri style pilafs use saffron all the time.

    Marc Ponomareff , you are my test kitchen. Thanks for sending recipes my way…that Sriracha sauce has been remade several times. I have to get through all your pizza dough recipes and do a comparison analysis. It’s on my To Cook list 🙂

  11. Remy Fiston says:

    Rajini Rao Plse invite me after cooking…i’m very hungry.

  12. David anil says:

    Am hungry!!!!!!!!!!11

  13. Achintya Rao says:

    Le sigh. Sights like this only amplify my homesickness.

  14. Rajini Rao says:

    Awww, that’s why you need to cook , Achintya Rao . C’mon, a scientist can cook…it’s the same approach to messing around. 

  15. Achintya Rao says:

    Yes, exactly, but I am not a scientist so I have a very good defence. 😛

  16. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, so now I’ll have more things to bug exhort you to try..the bench and the kitchen counter, Achintya Rao .

  17. Wesley Yeoh says:

    wow ive never seen grains that looooong, and i eat rice everyday too

  18. Rajini Rao says:

    Wesley Yeoh , that’s a characteristic of Basmati 🙂 Presoaking makes the grain even longer. It has a special fragrance as well. I use Jasmine rice for everyday cooking and Basmati for special occasions.

  19. Wesley Yeoh says:

    jasmine is common here too but i dont think ive ever had basmati before. is it firm or starchy?

  20. Rajini Rao I would like to include shrimp with this dish. At which point would I add it or shall I pre-cook & toss with the finished rice?

  21. Rajini Rao says:

    It’s not sticky or starchy, although it is delicate enough that I would not call it firm. It’s pricier than most rice, because it comes from a specific part of India (Dehradun) in the foothills of the Himalayas. 

  22. Rajini Rao says:

    Leslie Speights , if the shrimp cooks quickly, then just toss it in at the end. Thinking aloud here, what do they do in paella? If you use Basmati rice and hot water, it does not take much time to finish cooking so conceivably, you could add it with the rice and not have it be overcooked. 

  23. Rajini Rao says:

    Okay, Leslie Speights , I checked a couple of sites including Madhur Jaffrey, a well known Indian cook. Both have the shrimp added separately, at the end. One recommends tossing the shrimp in spices first:

  24. Rajini Rao Thank you!

  25. Mezza May says:

    Excellent! Can’t wait to try this 🙂

  26. Atul Bhatia says:

    as it is holiday for me

  27. do you salt and drain your cucumber for the raita?  I find otherwise it makes it too runny, even if I use full-fat Greek yogurt.

  28. Rajini Rao says:

    Sorry, missed your question Suzanne Catty . We grate the cukes and then drain off the excess liquid. Or, you could scrape off the middle pith with seeds before grating. Salting and squeezing would keep the crunch, I agree. However, raitas can be runny in texture..also homemade yogurt tends to be less solid than store bought anyway.

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