Instant Pot Vegetable Pulao

For the spice blend

2 teaspoons coconut oil
2 1-inch pieces of cinnamon
5 cloves
5 cardamoms
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
¼ cup grated coconut
¼ cup warm water

Heat coconut oil in a small pan on medium heat. Add the cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Fry for a minute, and remove from heat, and cool. Add all the ingredients to a blender with the warm water, and grind to a smooth consistency. Set aside till ready to use.

For the rice

3 tablespoons coconut oil
½ cup chopped tomatoes
1 tsp turmeric
½ cup diced carrot
½ cup diced French beans
1-2 green chillies, slit in half, optional
½ cup green peas, fresh or frozen
2 cups rice
3 cups water

Rinse the rice and soak it in fresh water for 15 minutes. Strain the water and set aside.

Select “Sauté” to pre-heat the Instant Pot. When the word “Hot” appears on the display, add the oil and sauté the spice blend for 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Sauté for a minute. Add turmeric and sauté until the raw smell of turmeric disappears.

Add carrots, beans, green chillies, peas, salt, and rice. Sauté gently for two minutes. Add water. Taste to make sure there is enough salt.

Close and lock the lid. Select “Pressure Cook” or “Manual” and then use the (+) or (-) button to set 4 minutes of pressure cooking time. 

When time is up, open the lid using the “10-Minute Natural Release”.
(Let pressure cooker go into “Keep Warm” mode and count up to 10 minutes. Then press “Cancel” and position the steam release valve on the lid to the “Venting” position.

Aloo Mattar Pilaf (Potato and Pea Pilaf)

Aloo Mattar Pulao2I love to play with food and you’ll see that I’ve done just that by garnishing my Aloo Mattar Pilaf (Potato and Pea Pilaf) with a beautiful rose made out of mango peel. Cooking is fun and as they say, you eat with your eyes first. So, take a few minutes to garnish and make your food appealing.

Pilaf, also spelled pilav or pilau or pulao, is rice cooked with spices in a seasoned stock. In India, we add vegetables, fish, meat or dried fruits to our pilaf. Pilaf is a dish that is found in the cuisine of many different countries. Each pilaf is distinctly different from the other.

You’ll find aloo mattar curry on the menu of most Indian restaurants and that’s what gave me the idea of trying a similar recipe in a pilaf style. It turned out to be a hit with my family, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you. It pairs well with a simple cucumber and yoghurt salad. I ate this for lunch yesterday and I was very satisfied!

Here are a few points for you to remember before you start cooking. Parboil or cook the potatoes partially, peel and cut each into four wedges. Make sure you don’t overcook the potatoes. I used peas from a local Indian grocery store, as they are less sweet. Cook the peas in boiling water, drain and shock them in ice so they stay green.

Thanks to those of you who try my recipes and post your pictures on my Facebook page. I  love seeing your results so keep them coming!

Aloo Mattar Pilaf (Potato and Pea Pilaf)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-5

2 cups Basmati rice
3 tablespoons ghee, (or coconut oil)
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 bay leaf, (torn in two)
8 cloves
2 star anise
6 green cardamoms, (lightly bruised)
1½-inch piece of cinnamon, (broken in two)
10 whole black pepper corns, (optional)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 medium potatoes, (parboiled, peeled, and cut into quarters)
3 green chillies, (slit down the middle, optional)
2 Roma tomatoes, (blanched, peeled, and cut into quarters)
1½ teaspoons turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder, (optional)
3¾ cups water
1 cup green peas, (cooked, drained and shocked in ice)
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro

Wash and drain the rice.
Place a large non-stick pot on medium-high heat. Add ghee and when it shimmers add onion. Cook for two minutes or until the onion turns translucent. Do not let the onion turn brown. Turn the heat to low, and add the spices – bay leaf, cloves, star anise, cardamoms, cinnamon, pepper, and cumin seeds. Stir for a minute and then add the potatoes. Turn the heat back to medium-high. Fry the potatoes for two minutes. Next, add the green chillies, tomato, turmeric, chili powder, and salt. Cook for one minute. Add rice and stir gently, until the water from the rice evaporates. Add water and when it comes to a boil, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, and turn the heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the peas and cilantro on top of the cooked rice. Turn off the heat and let the rice remain covered and undisturbed for five minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.