Lots of rule-breaking tonight.
In order to adhere to The Starch Rule, I managed to break The Leftover Rule and yes, sadly, The Chili Rule.
- The Starch Rule = Reverse the proportion of starch:vegetables from the typical 4:1 to 1:4.
- The Leftover Rule = Never ever-ever-ever end up with more leftovers than started off with.
- The Chili Rule = Just because the cook's unaccustomed to (and wary about) prolific use of chiles doesn't mean she shouldn't just seize the day and figure them out, especially when a delicious-looking recipe calls for a bunch!
All that said, this vegetable pulao -- cooked first on the stove and then finished in the microwave -- is an absolute winner, a complete keeper. I especially loved the hot rice paired with the cool tomato/yogurt raita.
WHAT, EXACTLY, IS PULAO?
Many thanks to the effervescent Shammi from Food, in the Main for her pulao inspiration and coaching! Here's what she taught and I (call me Alanna, call me Whatever, just don't call me Late for Supper .. as my English grandfather was wont to say ... ) was happy to learn!
- "The word Pulao (or pilau, pilao, pilaf, etc) is derived from a Sanskrit word, 'pilaaka'. Sanskrit is the Indian equivalent of Latin, being basically a dead language kept alive and spoken by a determined few and taught in some schools.
- Anyway, 'pilaaka' means 'bowl of rice.
- About the pronunciation - nope, the accent is on the second syllable ... that is, a short 'pu' (as in 'pull') and 'lau' pretty much as in 'loud'.
- Back to the recipe, though - you might find that adding one green chile - de-seeded and chopped very fine, or slit 3/4 of the way to the stem end - will give a bit of heat to the pulao without killing your taste-buds."
And Nupur from One Hot Stove (who has so far written A through I in a fascinating A-Z exploration of Indian cuisine from the state of Marathi) added this: "Pulao IS pronounced exactly as you think 'poo-lou' and the word simply means 'flavored rice'. Pulao is the same as 'pilaf' as it is known in mid-eastern cuisine. I don't know of dessert pulaos, but they can contain a wide variety of vegetables and meats. Some typical pulaos are vegetable pulao, egg pulao and meatball pulao. It can be served as an entree or a side dish."
Pulao (say it twice now, accent on the second syllable!) is a terrific way to use up bits of leftover vegetables. And while meat can be added, this version made for a satisfying vegetarian supper.
~ more recipes to use up leftover vegetables ~
~ more recipes with rice & vegetables ~
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 40 minutes
Serves -- depends, see notes
SOAK THE RICE (more detailed instructions follow)
1 cup basmati rice (next time I will use 1/2 cup)
START THE SPICES, ONION & VEGETABLES
1 tablespoon oil
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon garlic (from a jar, Shammi suggested 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (from a jar, it's a miracle product)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (I used brown mustard seeds)
"1 medium hot red chili sliced into very thin red rings" (didn't use these, the "description" is Shammi's)
"3 - 4 green chilies, slit" (didn't use these either, Shammi says they're optional and of course can be adjusted to taste)
Sprinkles of cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes (my addition, lacking the chilies)
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 large onion, diced
4 cups diced vegetables (tonight I used broccoli, chayote squash and leftover frozen corn, Shammi suggest 2 cups vegetables for 1 cup of rice but yes, I try to follow The Starch Rule)
MAKE THE RAITA
1 ripe tomato, chopped
1 cup Greek-style yogurt
Garam masala to taste
Salt to taste
COMBINE RICE & VEGETABLES, FINISH IN THE MICROWAVE
The soaked, drained rice
2 1/4 cups water
Salt to taste
GARNISH & SERVE
Chopped cilantro (I didn't use this but would if it were on time)
Roasted/fried cashews (I didn't use this)
Soak the rice in warm water for 30 minutes.
While the rice soaks, in a large cooking pot (preferably one that can transfer to the microwave later), heat the oil. Add the garlic, ginger and chilies and fry for 30 seconds or so, stirring the whole time. Add the garam masala and onion, cook til the onion is soft. Add the diced vegetables and cook til soft, stirring as needed.
While this cooks, combine the raita ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Drain the rice, add it to the pot, fry for 2 - 3 minutes. (Tonight I transferred the onion/vegetable mixture to the microwave dish before frying the rice so the pan was a little dry and I added a small splash of water to keep it from burning.) Add the water and salt to taste. (Next time I might try salting the soaking water.)
If needed, transfer to a microwave-safe dish. Cook uncovered in the microwave for 10 minutes.
Serve hot, garnish with cilantro and cashews, with chilled raita alongside.
As made: 1 cup of rice, 4 cups of vegetables yielded 8 cups of pulao
Per Cup: 144 Cal (14% from Fat, 9% from Protein, 77% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 28 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; NetCarb 26; 37 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 306 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 3 points
Next time: 1/2 cup rice, 4 cups vegetables should yield about 6 cups
Per Cup: 135 Cal (19% from Fat, 10% from Protein, 71% from Carb); 4 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 25 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; NetCarb 22; 40 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 408 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points
Raita: assumes 4 servings
Per Serving: 72 Cal (63% from Fat, 18% from Protein, 19% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 5 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 3 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; NetCarb 3; 4 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 329 mg Sodium; 11 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2 points