Tuesday, June 26, 2007

RCI: Maharashtra - Mixed Vegetable Pulao

Mixed Vegetable Pulao and Toor Dal

I've had weeks to get this done, but wouldn't you know I'd put it off until the last possible moment? In fact, I was very close to not participating in the June Regional Cuisine of India (RCI) event, which is hosted this month by Nupur of One Hot Stove. I am glad I did finally get my entry together. First of all, because Nupur is hosting it. I feel fortunate to call Nupur my friend and she has been an inspiration to me in many ways. Nupur has been hosting a weekly series called the A to Z of Indian Vegetables which I have been following with avid interest, but it hadn't even occurred to me that I might participate. When she announced that she would be hosting the June RCI and that it would focus on Maharashtrian cuisine and she provided links to sites with Mahatashtrian recipes, it seemed to me that the time had come to jump in and join the fun.

The second reason I'm glad I didn't let this event go by without joining in is that if I hadn't participated, I might never have tried this delicious vegetable pulao. I confess that my selection criteria for a recipe for this event were less than admirable - it pretty much came down to, "what looks easy?" Oh, there was one other criterion, given that I was hours from the deadline, "what can be done in one evening?" That ruled out any recipes calling for sprouts. So, in the end I picked this Mixed Vegetable Pulao, a tasty mix of rice and vegetables scented with whole garam masala (cloves, cinnamon, cadamom, peppercorns, and bay leaves). I used the suggested vegetables, but I expect you could vary them according to your tastes and what you have on hand. Oh no - I just realized I left out the peas! Oh well, it seems that is my modus operandi when cooking Indian - at least one ingredient is added late or left out entirely! Someday I will get the hang of this!

Anyway, back to the pulao. The only difficulty I had (aside from forgetting the peas) was that the recipe turned out to be more time-consuming than I anticipated. One step that I'd probably do ahead next time is deep-frying the cashews. In fact, if you can find unsalted roasted cashews, I would use those. Don't leave them out though - they add a pleasant contrast in texture and a sweet, nutty flavor. I was also surprised to see sugar as an ingredient. Since no amount was given in the recipe and I no experience on which to draw, I just arbitrarily added 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. I assume the idea is to balance flavors and not to make the dish taste sweet, but even so I have no idea how much is appropriate. If anyone can offer any insight it would be much appreciated!

I had some toor dal alongside the pulao, which was a wonderful combination. The recipe also suggested serving the pulao with a raita, but time was short and the two dishes were all I could manage. Perhaps I'll make a raita to have with leftovers tomorrow :)

So that's my entry... thank you for hosting Nupur!


Anonymous said...

Cathy, this post is just a godsend! I've been "dieting" ever since I got back from my trip and even if it isn't to the extent of vegetables only, I much prefer fresh and simple veggie dishes to beat the heat. I've already checked out the recipe link and it's a go on my end. The only thing lacking are green beans.

Thanks for a great post and for joining in on the event!

Nupur said...

Cathy! You just made my day with this wonderful entry :) The pulao looks delicious, and I am so thrilled that you enjoying eating it!
Your estimate with the sugar was spot-on, you just want the slightest hint of sweetness, but the truth is, the caramelized onions in the pulao provide that sweetness anyway. I sometimes also add raisins for added flavor and a sweet touch.
You are the best!

Cathy said...

Hi Rowena! Hope you like it - I think I used more vegetables than called for... or maybe factoring in the missing peas I came out even :) I used a Yukon Gold potato and though eating potato with rice breaks every cooking/eating rule my mom ever taught me, I love the two together! The spices are great too and the toor dal was amazing. I'm going to do a quick post on that tomorrow I think.

Hi Nupur! Thanks for the tips on the sugar. I'll have to try this sometime with raisins - that sounds good! I had more of this tonight and as you said, it reheats really well. I have still more for another couple of meals and am looking forward to it! Now that you've given a little extra time for your V vegetable, I might just be doing an entry for that as well :) Thanks again Nupur - I think you are the best!