Recently, I’ve been experimenting with lots of rice dishes. I seem to go through these phases in my life as a recipe developer. I get into the mood of making rice dishes or sweets or meatless meat dishes and keep making them over and over again until I’m satisfied with the recipe. I’ve made at least five different rice dishes in the past two weeks. What amazes me is that my kids never seem to mind and they don’t complain! They eat whatever I cook even when I make similar variations of the same recipe. Thank you Jyoti, Sanjay, and Dharti. You are the best food tasters any mom could ever have, and you are brutally honest too!
Today’s recipe – peas and cumin pulao – has a subtle flavor and occupies a low-profile spot on my dinner table when I want my curry to be the star of the show. It plays its part to enhance and compliment rather than compete with the rest of the items on the table.
I made a bouquet garni or a “potli,” as we call it in Hindi, for this recipe. The process is simple. I crushed the coriander and fennel seeds with a rolling pin. Then I took a small piece of cheesecloth and put the crushed coriander and fennel seeds, cinnamon, black cardamom, and whole black pepper in the middle, brought up the corners making a small pouch, and then tied the mouth with a piece of twine. These spices added a lot of flavor to this particular rice dish, so don’t leave them out.
On another note, I prefer using frozen peas from an Indian grocer rather than from a regular supermarket as they are less sweet. However, both work equally well. Give this recipe a try and I guarantee that you’ll use it time and time again.
Peas and Cumin Pulao – Muttar aur Jeera Pulao
Prep time: 10 minutes (does not include time to soak rice)
Cook time: 30 minutes
3 cups Basmathi rice, (soaked in water for 20 minutes)
¼ cup ghee
1 bay leaf, (torn into two)
½ cup sliced onion
3 large green chillies, (optional)
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1-inch cinnamon stick, (broken into two)
2 black cardamoms
1 teaspoon whole black pepper
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
6 cups water
1 cup peas
Wash and soak the rice in water for 20 minutes. Cook the peas in two cups of water. Drain and place in an ice bath so they will retain their color. Put the coriander seeds and fennel seeds in a small zip lock bag. Crush them with a rolling pin. Cut a small piece of cheesecloth (about 4 inches by 4 inches). Put all the spices – crushed coriander and fennel, cinnamon stick, black cardamom, and whole black pepper in the center of the cheesecloth, bring up the corners making a small pouch, and tie the mouth with a piece of twine. Set this potli aside.
Heat a wide, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add ghee, bay leaf, onion, green chillies and the potli. Cook for two minutes and then add the cumin seeds. Stir and cook until the onion turns translucent. Don’t let the onion get brown. Add water and salt. Let the water come to a boil.
Next, drain the rice. Turn the heat down a bit and add the rice. Then once you’ve added the rice, stir gently and turn the heat to medium-high. Let the rice cook and absorb the water. When the water dries up and you see bubbles appearing on top of the rice, cover the pot with a lid. In a few minutes you will see steam escaping through the edges of the lid, turn the heat to low, and allow the rice to cook for 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat but let the rice remain covered for at least five minutes before you remove the lid. Fluff the rice with a fork and gently mix in the peas. Cover with a lid and let it remain for another five minutes. Remove the potli and dish out the peas and cumin pulao on to a large platter. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.