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Bengali Yellow Rice Pulao

Updated on July 17, 2014
Bengali Yellow Rice Pilaf
Bengali Yellow Rice Pilaf | Source

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A Delicious Remembrance of My Homeland

As time passes by here in Texas, I gradually feel homesick. If a food addict becomes nostalgic, what will be his/her first thought? We all will say in unison, "Why? Food!"

As days are passing by I am getting day by day more fond of Bengali food. Seriously, now also I remember there were days in the past when Ma used to cram food in my mouth and I used say, "Yuck! Home food is boring." Gone were those days. Nowadays I literally run after those boring foods of the past. There are many times a day when I have to outsource Ma's inputs via phone or video chat to make a perfect Bengali day to day meal. As time passes by I am getting aware of the various nitty gritty of the Bengali cuisine. Seriously two dishes with just a bit of permutation and combination of some simple spices can taste so very different from each other! I am getting more and more spellbound as the mystery of culinary art unravels itself.

Bengal has a rich heirloom of good food. Among them Basanti Pulao or Yellow Rice Pilaf is favorite among all. Seriously all major Bengali occasion calls for this special pulao. In taste it can give tough competition to other types of rice pilafs found elsewhere.

A typical Bengali meal full of delicacies. This particular picture is the part of the reception ceremony of my marriage. The bride's first meal in her husband's home. At the centre of the plate there is our famous yellow rice pulao.
A typical Bengali meal full of delicacies. This particular picture is the part of the reception ceremony of my marriage. The bride's first meal in her husband's home. At the centre of the plate there is our famous yellow rice pulao. | Source

Had a look at our festive meal? Now don't you feel it taste great! Well it definitely is. This basanti pulao is an integral part of a Bong festive meal. This sweet pulao whose another name is Misti Pulao has a century old recipe that had passed on from our grandmas to our mothers and finally to us. I will document it here for the reference of our future generations and for those people who are seriously into cooking different delicacies like me. Looking at our present economic conditions I had modified this recipe a bit. Earlier this rich yellow color was obtained solely from saffron (kesar) but keeping in mind the growing prices of kesar and how it has almost disappeared from the Indian market in recent times (though it is readily available here in U.S), I have prepared a recipe that needs kesar but to a limited amount and yet the rice gets its unique yellow color. Read further and my recipe below will disclose the trick to you.

Pulao In The Making

Purists will always prefer Gobindobhog or Kaljeera rice  over any other rice to make the authentic Basanti Pulao. Wash and drain Kaljeera rice. Next apply salt, turmeric powder and little ghee on the rice. Mix them well with rice. Keep it aside.
Purists will always prefer Gobindobhog or Kaljeera rice over any other rice to make the authentic Basanti Pulao. Wash and drain Kaljeera rice. Next apply salt, turmeric powder and little ghee on the rice. Mix them well with rice. Keep it aside. | Source
Place a heavy bottom pan in medium heat. Put ghee inside it.  When the ghee has liquified in the heat, temper it with bay leaf, green cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon stick, dried red chilies, cumin seeds, javitri and cashew nuts. Sauté for sometime.
Place a heavy bottom pan in medium heat. Put ghee inside it. When the ghee has liquified in the heat, temper it with bay leaf, green cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon stick, dried red chilies, cumin seeds, javitri and cashew nuts. Sauté for sometime. | Source
After sometime put the prepared rice in the pan. Give it a good stir. Add saffron with milk to it.  Add sugar. Sauté for few more minutes.
After sometime put the prepared rice in the pan. Give it a good stir. Add saffron with milk to it. Add sugar. Sauté for few more minutes. | Source
When the rice has fried enough, fill the pan with water as per instruction. Increase the heat and let the rice boil.The rice will be cooked after 10 minutes (better taste a grain to know for sure).  You will see the water has completely dried off.
When the rice has fried enough, fill the pan with water as per instruction. Increase the heat and let the rice boil.The rice will be cooked after 10 minutes (better taste a grain to know for sure). You will see the water has completely dried off. | Source
Reduce the heat to minimum. Add salt or sugar according to the required (if required at all).  Finally turn off the heat. Sprinkle ghee and garam masala powder and raisins on top and serve hot with spicy lamb or mutton curry.
Reduce the heat to minimum. Add salt or sugar according to the required (if required at all). Finally turn off the heat. Sprinkle ghee and garam masala powder and raisins on top and serve hot with spicy lamb or mutton curry. | Source

Cooking Information

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 30 min
Yields: Serves 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Kaljeera Rice, if Kajeera Rice is unavailable then use Basmati Rice
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • According to taste Salt
  • 3 - 4 tablespoon Ghee
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  • 2 Dried Red Chili
  • 5 - 6 pods Cardamom
  • 1 inch Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 Javitri
  • 4 - 5 Cloves
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 fistful Cashew Nuts
  • 1 fistful Raisins
  • 1 pinch Saffron Strands
  • 1/4th cup Milk
  • 2 - 3 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder

Instructions

  1. As I have already discussed that we can easily get the rich yellow color of the pulao by a little trick. After you wash and drain your rice, smear it with turmeric powder, salt and ghee. Turmeric will help the rice to attain the yellow color. Salt will increase the taste and ghee will enhance its aroma. Leave it for sometime.
  2. In a thick bottomed vessel, heat ghee. Temper the ghee with cumin seeds, whole spices like cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, javitri, cloves, dried red chili and bay leaves and cashew nuts. Here after the cashew nuts have fried a bit, you can keep the cashew nuts aside or you can continue with the cooking.
  3. When the spices start to splutter, pour in the prepared rice. Fry it for few minutes. Add sugar to it. Next add the saffron soaked in milk inside the vessel. Fry for few more minutes.
  4. Add water into the pan. Always keep in mind that the rice to water ratio will be 1:2. Increase the heat and let the rice boil. Approximately 10 minutes later the rice will be fully cooked. Check it yourself. Kaljeera or Basmati have a very short cooking time. You have to be very careful and see that the rice does not gets overcooked. Add sugar/salt if required at all. Take it out of heat. Sprinkle fried cashew nuts (if you have any), raisins, ghee and garam masala powder on top of the rice. Give one good stir and serve immediately hot with spicy meat curry. Nothing can be more heavenly delicious than this combination. Vegetarians can serve it with spicy potato curry (Dum Aloo) and enjoy the deliciously flavorful Bengali Yellow Rice Pulao.

For Those Who Cannot Find Kaljeera Rice In The Market

Try Some Bengali Cooking

Rice Pilaf And Its Variations

There are literally N number of rice pilaf recipes from all across the globe. One such kind is my very own Indo-Chinese preparation Burnt Garlic Fried Rice. What, you thought rice pilafs or rice pulao is only made in India or Middle East! Watch this video for yourself and experience a very different kind of rice pilaf from another part of the world. The pilaf in the video seems to me very tasty.

Guys if you have other types of rice pilaf recipes, feel free to share with me. Looking forward to your responses. Till then Happy Cooking Folks!

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