Seeing that a nutty ingredient does a great job of taming the bitter notes of other ingredients (think curry leaf peanut chutney or sesame fenugreek chutney), I dared to make a rice dish seeped in curry leaf, with a load of cashews for good effect. And I loved the result.
Here’s my curry leaf pulao recipe – for those who share taste buds similar to mine! How many of you?
- Basmati rice – 1 cup
- Curry leaves (fresh) – 2 packed cups when plucked
- Cashew nuts – 1 cup
- Milk – 0.5 cup
- Onions – 2
- Cloves – 3
- Cardamom – 2 pods
- Black peppercorns – 1 teaspoon
- Salt – to taste
- Jaggery – 1 teaspoon
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
- Ghee – 1.5 tablespoons
1. Before cooking
Wash rice in several changes of water till the water runs clear. Soak in water for 30 mins. Drain.
Slice onions lengthwise into thin strips. Crush peppercorns, cloves and cardamom together using a mortar and pestle.
Grind curry leaves to paste.
2. On the fire
In a non-stick pan, heat a tablespoon of ghee. Add cashew nuts, stir around till they begin to turn golden. Then add sliced onions. Fry on medium heat, stirring regularly, till the onions turn brown. This could take about 10 mins.
When done, take the fried onions and cashew nuts out of the pan and keep aside. Pour a little more ghee to the same pan. Set heat to low, add cumin seeds and when they splutter, follow with crushed peppercorns, cardamoms, cloves.
In a few seconds the ghee will become fragrant with the freshly crushed garam masala. At this stage, add soaked and drained rice and fry on medium heat for 3 minutes. Follow with freshly ground curry leaf paste. Mix it in and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring once very minute.
Add a teaspoon of jaggery and salt to taste. Top with 1.5 cups of water, half a cup of milk, and bring to a boil. Add half of the fried onions and cashew nuts back into the pulao being cooked.
Set heat to low, close the lid of the pan and let the curry leaf pulao simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, or till the rice grains are cooked.
Use a non-stick pan with a close-fitting lid for cooking curry leaf pulao.
After the rice grains are cooked and have absorbed the excess water, close the lid of the pan tightly and switch off the heat. Let the curry leaf pulao stand and soak in its own flavors, for the next 5-10 minutes.
Stir gently to separately out the grains of basmati rice, and mix in the fried onions and cashew nuts that had been separately out earlier. Serve curry leaf pulao with raita on the side.
The quantity of water and time required for cooking can vary by the type of rice, the vessel being used, and source of heat, etc. Keep a watch on the pan and adapt the guidelines accordingly.
If, after cooking for a few minutes, you see the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan, this means the water wasn’t enough. To remedy the situation: Slide in a tablespoon or more of water as needed, from the side of the pan, and gently turn the pan around.