Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vegetable Pulao

The weather has been a little unpredictable of late. There are days that are rainy and then the very hots days and then there are days that give us a brief glimpse of the lovely autumn weather. We were luckily to experience such a day last Saturday. The day was so beautiful that it would have been a shame to waste it indoors, so on the spur of moment we decided to go to the Blue Ridge Mountains near Shenandoah valley to fully enjoy the day.

We were eager to leave as soon as possible, that means half-an-hour in our house, as it takes that much time to rally all the troops !! As it was nearing lunch time I had to think fast as to what to make for us to enjoy as lunch on the mountains. The alternative would be sitting in the restaurant having lunch, now while that would have sounded great any other day, that day I did not want to waste time anywhere but on a picnic blanket on top of the mountains in my favorite spot. So I made this Vegetable Pulao as it really does not take long to make and packed the ingredients for the raita. The whole thing was done and packed in less than 25 minutes.

This pulao not only tasted great but looks good too. When I laid out the food for lunch the air was filled with the scent of the fragrant pulao and compared to the peanut butter sandwiches, pretzels and cut-up fruit in Ziploc bags - the family sitting next to us were having - this looked really appetizing and filling.

Mixed Vegetable Pulao


Serves 4-6


2 cups basmati rice
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and roughly diced
1 cup french beans, roughly chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 bay leaves
2 inch cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp cumin / jeera seeds
3-4 pods of cardamom / elaichi
3 tbsp cooking oil
2 tbsp biryani masala* ( available at your local indian store )
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cayenne powder / mirchi powder
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
4+1 cups of water, to cook the rice
salt, to taste

  1. Thoroughly wash the basmati rice, to remove any dirt, and cook in a rice cooker with about 4 cups of water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the 3 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan and to it add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and cumin seeds. As they start to turn color - which is pretty much instantly - add the chopped onions and ginger - garlic paste and saute till the onions turn translucent.
  3. Add the potatoes, carrots, french beans, peas, tomato paste, turmeric powder, cayenne powder and 1 cup of water. Cover and cook on medium low heat till the vegetables are nearly cooked.
  4. Remove the cover and add the biryani masala and the cream. Let the vegetables finish cooking in the cream. When the vegetables are fully cooked add the cooked rice and salt and mix it thoroughly.
  5. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve plain or with any raita **

* If you cannot find the Biryani Masala, substitute it with Garam Masala

** I love to serve it with Boondi raita - Mix a little store bought boondi in some dahi and season with salt, a pinch of sugar and a sprinkling of cumin / jeera powder. Save some of the cilantro from above and garnish this with it too. Stir and serve. Quick, easy and yummy.

Enjoy hot pulao with some raita.

Entrance to Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, one of my favorite picnic spot.

They have a lovely visitor center with a souvenir shop.

Lovely greenery, great for picnics.

Lovely views sans the restroom sign.

I love the wood shingle cabins and huge canopy trees.

My pride and joy, enjoying the greenery and relaxing environment.

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