Sweet Pulao


The New Year has started and so has the new term at work. I had decided to take a weeks break till all things are set with all of us back to our routine. During that time, I had loads of verbal queries from my friends about the next theme on my blog. My Cousin from US mentioned that she was so much used to Bake-A-thon post every day that she wants me to get going with some new theme to keep her inspired..:) Last day when I went visiting Balaji temple in Birmingham, Gautham, at Shree Foods asked me…”Did you really bake all that stuff?” At my nod, he further queried” How did you manage getting the time do all that?” Well, I suppose it is the spirit and strength in me which kept me going.

Recently, I have started reading Dr. Raj Patel’s book on Healthy Indian Diet. I am completely engrossed in reading this book….it is surprising how an Indian diet has travelled from the real dense nutrition to a refined partially healthy today!! If you ever get a chance to get hold of this book please do. I am planning to replace my pantry with brown rice instead of refined rice grains and rice bran oil for cooking in due course of time. This involves changing the perspective of the family as a whole as well as their palates. With a teenage son at home and loads of ifs and buts from my side to stuff him with nutrition from my side, the transition is going to be gradual rather than an abrupt one. In order to apply the positives from this book, I have planned to create a category of Healthy Indian Diet here…which will involve dishes churned out to give my family the necessary nutrition in a traditional way. To start the theme, I thought, I will post on something sweet. Kalyan had posted Mishti bhaat recently…which kept me hooked on till this weekend and I managed making it. Kalyan very kindly sent me the recipe which is one of Pree’s creations. Pree’s and Kalyan’s recipes are the authentic Bengali recipe. I have tweaked it according to my pantry availability.

This sweet dish requires Basmati rice. I am sure a pack of brown rice instead would make a nutrition power house on your plate.

For this you need:

2cups of Basmati rice soaked and drained

2 tablespoons of ghee

1 tsp turmeric

saffron strands a few, soaked in warm water

2.5 tbsp sugar

Few chopped dry fruits like cashews, dried dates, dried figs, almonds and sultanas and raisins

1 tsp Ginger grated

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 Bay leaf

3-4 cardamom pods

A small piece of cinnamon stick

1 tsp rose water

In a pan heat ghee. Add in Bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Stir and smell the aroma.  Add in the dried, chopped fruits and stir. Add the turmeric powder.Followed by well drained rice. Stir it gently(in order to keep the rice grains intact). Add the sugar and mix. Transfer this whole mix to a microwavable container. Add in 3.5 cups of warm water to this. Add in saffron and rose water. Cover the container with foil and cook in a microwave for 15 minutes first. Bring it out and add the lemon juice and cook again for 5 more minutes till all the water is soaked. Lemon juice works wonders and each rice grain is turned into pearls!!

I missed out adding the green peas as the boys in my house were quite apprehensive about the sweet rice and peas combination. Leaving the peas out made this Mishti Pulao of Bengal a simile of Sakhar bhaat in Maharashtra.

I am trying to put together the health benefits of the ingredients I use for the dishes I create. These are my personal experiances and some the facts I read and our family traditions. Please refer your physician before you actually make it a practice to use them in your regular diet. Every person is different as per Ayurveda…each person has different constituent. So health benefits may vary depending on the needs of the constituent.

Health Benefits of the ingredients I used today:

Turmeric: It contains Curcumin which displays both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, giving it the potential to be considered in the development of cancer preventive strategies and applications in clinical research. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.

Ghee: This lacks hydrogenated fats and thus is popular for cooking in India. Ghee has high smoking point so cooking inghee enhances flavour of the dish. Ghee is supposed to stimulate secretion of stomach acids and digestion, while oils and butters sit heavy in the stomach as they are difficult to digest. They are also said to increase memory and topically softens skin and helps in blisters and burns. People with high cholesterol are advised not consume ghee as they contain saturated fats.

Spices: All the spices added help in body heat retention. Thus in winters they are absolute needs. Cinnamon help is digestion and avoids any bloating.

Photographs:JPRD

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