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 It was a live crab so expertly camoflagued as a coral piece!!The thin, spindly legs of box crabs can be withdrawn close to the body, giving them a box-like appearance.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.