Vegetable Pulao and Raita

You will need: (* – Refer notes)

Rice (Basmati or similar long-grained) – 2 cups
Ghee (clarified butter)* – 2 tbsp + 2 tsp
Whole spices like cinnamon stick , cloves, cardamom and black pepper corns**
Onion – 1 medium-sized, finely chopped
Vegetables like carrots, peas and green beans – 1 cup (total)
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Water – 3 cups
Cashew nuts and raisins for garnish (optional)

Wash the rice in water. Drain well and keep aside***.

Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a thick bottomed vessel (I use a pressure cooker). Add the whole spices and allow it to sputter and become fragrant.

Add the chopped onions. Saute till they turn translucent.
Add the vegetables and saute for a minute.

Add 3 cups water****. Add enough salt and bring to a gentle boil.

Add the washed rice and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix well and check seasoning.

Cover and cook till done.

If using a pressure cooker, cook on medium high till you hear a whistle, lower the heat and cook for 5 more minutes. Else, cover the vessel with a heavy lid and cook till done.
This dish can easily be cooked in a rice cooker too. Do the sauteing in a pan and transfer to the rice cooker along with rice, water and lemon juice.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the remaining ghee and fry the cashew nuts and raisins till golden.

To serve, fluff pulao well, garnish with nuts and serve hot with raita or your favorite curry.

Notes:

* Substitute with oil, if ghee is not available or you are extremely health conscious!

** For 2 cups of rice, I use a 2-inch piece of cinnamon stick, 3-4 cloves, 2-3 pods of cardamom and 3-4 black pepper corns.

*** The washed rice can be roasted in a little ghee. I usually skip this step (read the title!) and it turns out okay.

****Typically, the Basmati rice I use, needs 1.5 cups of water per cup of rice. Some rice types may need up to 2 cups of water. This information is usually available on the rice packet.

Now on to the raita. The following is the recipe for a simple tomato and onion raita with a surprise garnish!

You will need:

Thick yogurt – 1 cup
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped
Tomato – 1 small, de-seeded and finely chopped
Green chillies – 2, chopped
Grapes – for garnish (the surprise!)

Whip yogurt well with a fork or whisk.

Add onions, tomatoes and green chillies.

Season with salt.

Garnish with green or red grapes cut in half. This is kind of a family tradition at our house. I playfully added a couple of grapes to raita one day and my husband was hooked! It adds a playful sweetness.

You can use cilantro and mint leaves also for garnish.

You can add finely chopped cucumbers and carrots to the raita too. Don’t forget to de-seed the cucumbers.

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