For a long time now, I have been trying to figure out the difference between pulav and fried rice. I have googled quite a lot but not found a convincing answer. Most answers are in the lines that fried rice is a Chinese way of combining pre-cooked rice with other ingredients on a wok. If you know a better answer, I will be glad to hear from you.
I have been meaning to post pulav recipe for a long time now as my sis-in-law wanted this recipe. Somehow I never got to make it although it used to be a regular dish on our weekly menu. I think it is because my husband has shown more interest in sambar and curd rice now that I could not bother making this dish just for myself. Usually when I sense that we have not had enough vegetables in the last couple of days or so and say if I have little quantity of several vegetables left over, I usually make vegetable pulav. I must say that it is not like the lovely pulav that my mom used to make early in the morning so I could take it to college for lunch but it is close. She was so quick, she even used to do it when I used to work in Chennai and would leave home at 6 in the morning. I have a LOT to learn from her!
The key to pulav is to have the right consistency of rice and by that I mean, the grains should be cooked yet well separated so it is not like a mushy mass and ends up like upma than pulav. As pulav is usually not made very spicy like briyani, I think it is important to infuse nice aromas and flavours into the rice. Here is my simple pulav recipe.
1 cup rice, rinsed
1 cup vegetables of your choice (I usually use peas, capsicum, carrot, baby corn etc.)
1 big onion thinly sliced
2 green chillies slit or chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds and another teaspoon black cumin seeds (Kashmiri jeera)
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
2 cardamom pods
Ghee or cooking oil
Salt to taste
Ginger, an inch long piece grated
In a skillet, add about 2 teaspoons ghee or cooking oil and once hot, add all the whole spices except the cumin seeds. Once the spices start frying and give a nice aroma, add the rinsed and drained rice and fry so the grains are coated with oil/ghee. Fry until the rice turns white.
While the rice is cooking, in the skillet add about a teaspoon of oil and once hot, add the cumin seeds. Allow them to start turning darker. Then add onions, turmeric powder, chillies and ginger and fry until onions start turning transparent.
Add vegetables and cook until done. If you like your peppers crunchy add them towards the end. Add required salt (including what you need for the rice)
Once the rice is cooked, try to cool it on a plate. If you mix when the rice is hot, it may easily break the grains. Once cool enough, mix with vegetables and garnish with coriander.
Serve with a spicy curry or keep it cool with a raita!