April 19, 2009

Vegetable Pulav/ Pilaf/ Pulao...

A very Belated Happy Vishu to all my readers and blogger friends. I just got back from spending some days with family in CA and I am still stuck between time zones. The West Coast is only 3 hrs behind the East Coast but for the biological clock, it seems like much more. Plus coming to an empty house with all the chatter still ringing in my ears, didn't feel like blogging.

It was no fun to get back to the blow hot blow cold weather we have been having all week long but the wonderfully warm weather yesterday was heaven sent. We went to a park nearby and it was studded with so many families that it looked like we stumbled on a convention. All winter long the parks and lakes lie dormant, empty, cold and uninviting and now the trees there are laden with flowers, there's lush green grass and humans crawling out of the woodwork.

To get back to the west coast stories, it was nicer weather there though it did get cold along the waterfront. We inland people couldn't resist being along the shore at the slightest pretext and so there were all of us at the beach shivering away while the kids were playing in the cold wet sand!! The skies and beaches there are so clear and blue that the photos don't do justice to the beauty.

Got to eat some good stuff from my mom's pantry and also some "healthy" west coast food. The highlight of the trip other than meeting family, having kids of different ages underfoot and pandemonium everywhere was getting live Dungeness Crabs from a fishing boat,(2 1/2 pounds each), getting home in time to cook it, and then eating it 15 minutes before leaving for the airport to come back home. My siblings had warned me that this is not the crab season so don't expect it, and when we got it from the boats, we were skeptical. We were all pleasantly surprised by the quantity and quality of it. Yummiest crab ever..I even considered moving to CA for the availability of these crustaceans.

We also got to try a new crab in my food vocabulary..Box Crab. We were talking to the fisherman after packing our crabs and he picked up a piece of coral like rock. I thought it was a crab shell and was listening to his description about the other crabs swimming in the tank when the rock suddenly moved and out popped the legs!! It was a live crab so expertly camoflagued as a coral piece!!The thin, spindly legs of box crabs can be withdrawn close to the body, giving them a box-like appearance. I didn't have my camera with me!!If I get any photos from the locals there, I will add to this post. The taste..more like lobster, richer creamier than regular crab. There were mixed reaction to this crab in the house. Some liked it but some didn't.

Vegetable Pulav is an odd item to combine with the crab stories but this is what my mind stopped on. This is my mom' style of veg pulav...quite light and it goes well with almost any curry. It tastes like a cross between veg fried rice and ghee rice.

Note: The combination of vegetables will change the taste of the rice. Red peppers, soft vegetables like zuccini, etc are strong flavorings and personally, I don't think go well in the rice. The green peppers and scallions are the ones which give it the Chinese flavor. You could use this rice as a base and change the flavor to your liking.. add more spice, add some biryani masala to it to make it more pronounced South Indian pulav or add chili garlic sauce to it to change the orientation to a South East Asian rice. I use a frozen bag of diced mixed veggies and add scallions and peppers for a quick pulav.

You Will Need:
Basmati Rice: 2 cup
Onion- 1/2 medium sized one. sliced finely.
Green Chilies -2-3
Ginger- Garlic Paste-1 1/2 tbsp
Vegetables- 2 cup chopped(peas, beans, carrots, green peppers, scallions, cauliflower)
Ghee/Butter- 4 tbsp
Cilantro- 2 tbsp chopped
Garam Masala-1/2 tsp
Ground Black Pepper-1/4 tsp
salt to taste

Wash and soak the rice for at least 10 minutes. Drain and keep aside. Chop the vegetables into small even sized dices. Boil the vegetables in very little water for just 3-5 minutes. Drain and keep aside.

Heat 2 tbsp of the ghee and saute the onion. When they are slightly brown, add them to the rice cooker along with the rice and 3 1/2 cup water(water to rice ratio is mostly 2:1 for most kinds of Basmati rice but some just need 1 1/2 :1 so check the cooking instructions) Add 1 tsp salt to it and let the rice cooker do its work.

If you are using a frying pan, just add the rice to the pan after the onions are sauteed and then mix them. Add the water and salt. When the water boils, cover the rice and cook on low heat for 10-12 minutes. Fluff it and let it rest covered for 5 minutes. Open and fluff it and let it cool slightly.

When the rice is cooked, open the rice cooker and cool the rice.

Heat the ghee/butter in a pan and saute the ginger garlic paste and green chilies. When they are fragrant, add the vegetables and saute just for 4-5 minutes. They should still have a bite left in them. Add the cooked and cooled rice to the pan and mix well. This is done on medium flame so that the rice is not getting fried again.

If you mix the veggies with the hot rice, the hot rice grains will break up, so wait for it to cool a bit.The veggies are not cooked with the rice to avoid them getting mushy.)

Garnish with cilantro, garam masala and pepper if you like the flavor and mix it in.

Note: You could combine all the steps into one pot method for a weekday. Don't boil the veggies. Just mix the oil and ghee( use less ghee), saute onions, and add veggies. Then add the ginger garlic paste and stir well. Add the washed rice and stir fry for a minute till the rice turns opaque. Add salt and water and cover and cook for 10-12 minutes on medium heat. Open and fluff the rice and add garam masala and pepper.


Ramya Vijaykumar said...

Belated Happy Vishu to you and your family... Its always difficult to get back to a empty house and the feeling of lonliness lingers for a long time... Box crab thats new to me... Oh wow wonderful Pulav and the pic is amzing...

Pavani said...

Glad to hear that you had a great time with family Shaheen. I'm so waiting for summer, no more layers of clothing. Veg. pulao looks delicious. Have a great Sunday.

indosungod said...

Belated Vishu! Shaheen.
I have not had crab in a long time so the stories are making me crave a little bit of crab.

The pulav looks delicious.

Anonymous said...

Oops,the pilaf looks professional and makes me hungry Shaheen..happy Vishu dear

Uj said...

Belated Vishu wishes to you too.. I know the feeling of coming inside an empty house.. it feels like the house is going to swallow you.. Pulav looks yummy ..

A_and_N said...

I love the picture, Shaheen!

And for some weird reason, I thought you were in California :)

Nags said...

That's a simple version, pretty much same as how I make it :)

Suparna said...

Belated Vishu greetings shaheen. Box crab looks to be an interesting variety of crab...
pulao looks well prepared n tempting, superb snap.

sra said...

Yesterday, we went somewhere and stopped on the way back for lunch. They had something called Kerala Pulao (veg) which was cooked in coconut oil. It looked like yours, only, the colour was yellow. It was nice and sweetish.

Sakshi said...

So you lucky gal got to eat all those things cooked by someone else other than you?? That's my ultimate dream...to lazy around at a relatives place (preferably by the seaside) and she serving me all the things crawling from the sea...sigh!!!

Your mom's version of the pilaf looks very interesting and I trust its as delicious as it is looking in your pic...btw loved the utensil :)

Vandana Rajesh said...

Loved the vegetable pulao, the pic looks so inviting. Yummy indeed and healthy...a great way to get my daughter to eat veggies happily:)

Anonymous said...

Shaheen, any particular reason, for adding the garam masala at the final stage? I'll try it out soon.


Pooja said...

Belated Vishu Shaheen. The dish looks delicious :)

My comfort food network said...

I love the "urli" that you used to serve the pulao in. My mum makes a similar pulao too and I love it because it is lighter then the other pulaos. I make it often for my kids and they get little more out of it (with vegetables) then plan rice.

My mouth is watering thinking of the crabs. I need to go to Calicut to have some. Miss my mom and mil's preparation.

Sandeepa said...

Belated Vishu

I have not had crab for really really long time. All that crabby story made me hungry

Sent you a mail, made your B. Masala and loved it

Mallugirl said...

Rg, adding the garam masala in the end gives it a highlighted flavor. If u are using whole spices, u could add it in the beginning along with the onions.

Anonymous said...

nic 2 hav u back..

A kitchen scientist & a white rat hubby!!! said...

hello...oru guest appearance blogger aanae...how are u?..the pilaf luks soo delicate and lovely...

bee said...

belated vishu greetings. i love that uruli.

Mallugirl said...

Sorry for the delay in replying.. barely sit on the computer everyday now so wanted to reply to each comment but couldn't.

Ramya, thanks for the vishu greetings.SO are u a crab fan too?

Pavani, layers of clothes..yeah enough already.. heard this weekend is going to warm so looking forward to that.

Indo, u live in the heart of crab country on the eastern side...don't u make it often?

Ann, happy vishu to u too!! its just a pulav!

Uj, u put it well.. the house seems much larger than we left it, and it takes time to settle in i guess.

Mallugirl said...

A-N.. me in california? nah.. i have always been in NJ.same coast as u.

Nags.. this is the standard item in my house when there are pure veg. guests. i think i like the simplicity of it than a heavily spiced pulav.

suparna, thanks for the wishes.. box crab is interesting..but can't be sure every one will like it.

Mallugirl said...

sra, yellow sweet rice.. must be a variation. Can't recall eating similar rice in Kerala.:)

sakshi..adipoli aayirinnu.:)

vandana.. yeah, my little one also eats this well.

My comfort.. calicut crabs.. don't say anything more.. then i will feel more homesick.:

Kitchen scientist..entha guest aayathu? busy nowadays?

sandeepa, i replied to u in detail..:))

bee, thanks!!

Rajesh &Shankari said...

That uruli looks great and yeah yeah the pulav too. My mom makes it exactly the same way. I add mint to mine!

Talking of crabs with a veggie recipe, remind me of how R was telling my sis(vegetarian) about crabs while have dinner and my sis nearly puked!

Seena said...

Mom's version will always be good! I love your brinjal recipe too.. :)

Myra said...

I know its late,
Happy Vishu Shaheen,
and to everyone who nourishes from this blog!
hey sounds you had fabulous time with your family, aurevoir's are very sad ,but i am sure this Pulao sheered you up,it's what i call, comfort food x
yours Myra <3

Pavithra said...

Pictures is adorable , great work dear

Vanamala said...

Nice recipe...long time i;ve been here....

lan said...

nice pic as always! hope you had a nice vishu too. my husband love crabs. hadn't heard of box crabs though.

Mandira said...

belated vishu to you too Shaheen... I've not had crab in a while.... box crab sound so different... the pulao is delicious!

Geeta said...

Sounds yummy for my tummy.