Navratan Pulao

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 green cardamoms
4 cloves
1-inch stick cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
2 medium potatoes (cut into a fine dice)
2 medium carrots (cut into a fine dice)
2 cups green beans (chopped into small bits)
1/2 small head cauliflower (separated into small florets)
1 cup green peas (frozen)
16 oz baked tofu (use my recipe linked here or use storebought)
1/2 tsp saffron strands
1/2 cup nondairy milk (I use almond)
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 tbsp sliced almonds
2 tbsp golden raisins

Bring a large pot of water to boil, lightly salt it, then add the rice and cook until the rice grains are almost tender but not fully cooked. Drain and set aside.

Mix the saffron with the nondairy milk and set aside.

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil. Add the cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and cumin seeds. Stir-fry until the spices release their fragrance and begin to turn color.

Add the potatoes, saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the carrots and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the cauliflower and green beans and saute for a couple of minutes. Add green peas, then add some salt, cover the pot and let the veggies cook over a medium-low flame for about five minutes. Stir a couple of times to ensure they do not stick. You don’t want the veggies to brown.

When the potatoes are almost cooked and the cauliflower is al dente, mix in the rice, tofu cubes and the saffron in milk. Cover and let the rice continue cooking over low heat for 10 more minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1/2 tbsp oil in a small saucepan. Add the cashews and raisins to it, and finally the blanched, sliced almonds. Cook until the nuts are a light gold, then pour over the rice and mix.

Serve hot.

NOTES
To make this recipe soy-free, leave out the tofu.

To make this recipe nut-free, leave out the nuts. You can use apricots or another dry fruit along with the raisins. Also use a nondairy milk that’s nut-free.