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Rice is the staple food for millions all over the world. I’m a happy soul when I get to eat a bowl of rice for lunch after work. It gives that much needed energy. There is a world of difference between Pulao and Biriyani. Somehow to me personally – Pulao is light, mildly spiced and can be made in a jiffy. I really try to avoid ginger- garlic paste in a pulao because to me the dish immediately gets ‘heavy’. Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe of Pulao you can just add on whatever vegetables you’d like.

Basmati rice is precious and I just love the long grain rice when cooked and all fluffed up! For me cooking is an ongoing learning process and it did take me some time- a couple of years maybe-  to perfect the right method to cook this beautiful, long grain rice.

The cooking of basmati rice requires a lot of care and attention – rules which I just blindly follow are:

  • A cup of raw basmati rice serves 2 people.
  • Wash and rinse rice gently 2-3 times, soak in water for just 30 minutes and drain completely.
  • For every cup of rice, I use 11/2 cups of water.
  • In that 1 1/2 cups of water, I take 1 cup of coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water. (for special occasions), otherwise it’s all water.
  • So for 2 cups of rice for example, I would use 2 cups of coconut milk and 1 cup of water.
  • For every cup of rice, you must add 1/2 -3/4 cup of vegetables of your choice – carrot, beans, peas, cauliflower, paneer, capsicum, button mushrooms etc.

I have a sister in Bangalore who just dislikes peas – sorry Tessa!  I’ve never really known why? Should ask her sometime -With all due apologies, the recipe I’d like to share with you is simple and classic,


Peas & Fried Onion Pulao:

  • Basmati rice soaked for 1/2 an hour and drained – 2 cups.
  • Ghee and oil
  • A few cloves, cinnamon and cardamom (could be added whole or powdered)
  • Onions – finely sliced -3 medium
  • Peas -1 cup parboiled in salt and sugar (to retain the colour) or steamed.
  • Green chillies slit -4-6
  • Coconut milk – 2 cups (from 2 cups of grated coconut, add hot water and extract the milk, can be done in the food processor, strain and keep aside)
  • Water-1 cup
  • Salt to taste


  • In some oil and ghee, add the spices and fry lightly, add sliced onions and fry till golden brown. (keep aside 1/2 a cup for garnish)
  • Add slit green chillies, coconut milk, water and salt and bring to a boil.
  • Add rice and stir lightly.
  • Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add boiled peas and cover and cook for a further 5-8 minutes, stir lightly and switch off the flame.
  • Keep covered for 1/2 an hour.
  • Fluff up with a fork, add 2-3 tsp of  melted ghee on top and serve with fried onions.

It’s light, flavorsome and addictive.

Chefs Tips:

  • To retain the colour of carrot, beans, peas and capsicum, you can add the parboiled vegetables like carrot, beans and peas after the initial cooking time of 5 minutes is over.
  • Cauliflower flowerets and button mushrooms (cut into T- shape) can be sautéed along with the sliced onions.
  • For a Paneer pulao, lightly marinate the paneer in a mixture of a little chilli powder, Garam masala and salt for about 15 minutes, grill lightly and add along with button mushrooms, to sauté with the onions- the capsicum can be added later. A combination of paneer, mushroom and capsicum for a pulao is just so flavourful.
  • In the case of baby corn, you could follow the basic recipe but add 1/2 a teaspoon of chilly powder to the sliced onions while sautéing.
  • Serves 4.

Learn how to cook- try new recipe. Learn from your mistakes, be fearless & above all have fun. – Julia Child                                         

Till my next post






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