Freelance writer & journalist in the fields of lifestyle, technology and entertainment.
Published May 12th 2011
I was once invited to a friend's house for causal dinner. Apart from the overwhelming hospitality and good time we had there, one thing which stuck with me for rest of the evening was the lip smacking dinner. I had known my friend for a long time and though she is a wonderful person, I must confess that she is a terrible cook. On all occasions when she hosts parties at her place she orders food from outside and makes sure that the fun quotient never dips.
So on that particular night amidst all the fun and frolic we were having, my friend announced that the table was set for dinner and suggested we eat before everything cools down. Considering Melbourne's cold weather, we didn't waste any time and without batting an eyelid we started helping ourselves. The entire table was sizzling with different kinds of dishes and since the theme for that night was Indian, we could see a good exhibit of Indian cuisines. I was kind of full but could not resist tasting everything on the table. We all ate till we felt the need to loosen our belts a bit and then got back to some more rounds of games and the good old wine.
During this time I was thinking about the Pulao which was served. I had liked it so much that I had decided to check with my friend about the restaurant from where she had ordered for it. When I enquired about it, my friend giggled and coyly revealed that she had made it herself, and in a microwave. I just couldn't believe her. Looking at the expressions on my face my friend proceeded to tell me the entire recipe, and also promised to email it to me. And it was only a few days later when I received her email on the recipe, that I was beginning to trust her.
I was thrilled to find a microwave recipe and without wasting any time, I decided to make it immediately. Luckily my fridge is always stacked with fresh vegetables, so I was even more charged up. Half an hour of effort and lots of passion resulted in a dish which was worth savouring.
Pulao is a flavourful rice dish which forms an integral part of Indian cuisine in many states. It can be made in hundred different ways, but this particular recipe would remain my favourite as it is very light and healthy, and also includes my favourites - mushrooms and capsicums. You can have it as a main dish in your lunch and dinner menu. So all you folks out there get your pen and paper outside.
Cooking time: 15 minutes Preparation time: 10 mins Serves: 4
Ingredients 1 cup long grained Basmati rice cup mushrooms cup red capsicums
4 spring onions 2 cloves
2 green cardamoms
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 tablespoons oil
Salt to taste
Clean and wash rice till it stops to leave milky appearance in water. Now soak the washed rice in warm water for about 10 minutes.
While the rice is getting soaked chop spring onions and separate its white and green parts. Chop mushrooms and capsicums the way you want. I chop mushrooms along their stems into thin slices and cut capsicums into long thin pieces.
Check when 10 minutes are over and drain water from rice. Keep it aside.
Take a large glass microwave safe bowl and put the white part of spring onions, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon and bay leaf along with 2 tablespoons of oil, garam masala and cumin powder in it. Mix it well with a wooden spatula. Place this bowl in the microwave and cook for 2 minutes. I usually do this with the power level set at HIGH.
Add chopped mushrooms and capsicums into the bowl and again cook it for 2 minutes on HIGH. Once these vegetables are cooked, take the spatula and stir the mixture.
Then add soaked and drained rice into the bowl along with salt and mix it well with the cooked vegetables. Set microwave on 1 minute and let the rice get mixed with the flavours of spices and vegetables.
Now stir it again and add 2 cups of hot water into the bowl and let it cook for 10 tens. Make sure to stir the rice after every 4 minutes.
Take out the bowl from microwave after 10 minutes and sprinkle it with the green part of spring onions which you had cut earlier.
The beauty of this recipe lies in the fact that it is made with very little oil in microwave, so there is practically no standing time in kitchen and of course it is easy enough for non-cooks to make as well. No wonder my friend made it on that night, I thought sheepishly in my mind.
The entire ingredients for this recipe can be easily found in any Indian Store. If you are unable to remember the names, make a list and take help from shop keepers to avoid buying an incorrect ingredient.
Those of you who do not like mushrooms and capsicums can choose other veggies like green peas, carrots, beans, broccoli and even corn. You can make your own combinations and surprise your friends and family with this authentic aromatic Indian pulao.