Pulao is a special preparation of rice and has its roots in Indian cuisine. It is served as a main course dish and accompanies the various courses like preparations of vegetables, meat, fish and paneer (cottage cheese) through the meal. Cooked in a ghee or butter with peas, peanuts, cashew nuts, carrots and raisins, it is considered a delectable delicacy from the Indian subcontinent.
Pulao is a South Asian rice dish, particularly popular in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. It is also known as Pilaf. It consists of rice cooked in seasoned broth of meat or vegetables. It may be of white, yellow or brown/ reddish brown shades depending upon the Pulao recipe used to prepare it.
Pulao finds its mention in history in Bactrian hospitality. The Bactrians are known to have offered the dish to Alexander the Great. Pulao recipe is also found in the books of the tenth century Persian scholar Abu Ali Ibn Sina.
For Pulao recipe, rice is washed and soaked for 20 minutes. After this, whole spices are fried in hot oil or ghee in a pressure cooker. To this are added onions and green chilies and fried till the onions turn light brown. Ginger garlic paste is added to the mixture and fried. Now tomatoes are added and allowed to fry, after which vegetables and spices are allowed to saute for a couple of minutes. Now the rice, after straining, is added to this and mixed well. Salt and water are added to this and the cooker lid is closed. After a whistle, the flame is reduced and the rice is cooked for a couple of minutes. After this the heat is turned off and the cooker left to cool and the steam to escape. The cooker is then opened, and the cooked Pulao is garnished with coriander leaves before serving.
Types of Pulao
There are many kinds of Pulao depending upon the kind of vegetable/ meat used with the rice when cooking. Some ingredients mixed with rice in the different variants include multi grains, pudina, holy basil leaves, spinach, dates, lamb meat, tomato, chicken, carrot, fruits, lentils, mint leaves, chick peas, soya, coconut milk and saffron.
Pulao is served hot with Raita (a curd based dish served chilled), as a main course dish.