Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Spicy Vegetable & Cashew Rice (Pulao Masala)

Pulao is a type of rice dish found throughout India, especially the northern part of the country. It's usually made with Basmati rice cooked in broth, then supplemented with vegetables and occasionally meat or chicken. It's not unusual to add cashews or other nuts, too. You can use plain water to cook the rice if you don't have vegetable broth, or use chicken broth for a richer flavor if you are not a vegetarian.

The following vegetarian recipe can be made vegan by using oil instead of ghee (Indian clarified butter). You can adjust the peppery heat by adjusting the amount of garam masala to suite your taste, and substituting a mild or sweet pepper for the hot chili pepper if you prepare a milder dish.

I like to use brown Basmati rice, which requires a 2:1 liquid-to-rice ratio for cooking. If you prefer to use white Basmati or other white rice, reduce the ratio to 1.5:1 liquid-to-rice. The rice is cooked separately and then combined with the vegetables and seasonings. I find it easiest to use a medium Dutch oven or other such pot for this, but you can use a very large deep skillet as long as it will hold everything.

1 1/2 cups brown Basmati rice
3 cups vegetable broth or water
1 large carrot (or 2 smaller ones), peeled & diced
1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) peas
1 or 2 small hot green chilies (serrano or jalapeno peppers will work)
4 Tbs ghee or oil (not olive oil)
1/2 tsp garlic paste OR finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp ginger paste OR finely minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup raw unsalted cashew pieces
2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp salt (to taste)
Optional garnishes: Fresh chopped coriander leaves or cilantro; freshly-squeezed lemon juice)

Bring broth or water to a boil, add rice, stir, reduce heat to very low, cover and cook for at least 1 hour or until rice is fully cooked & fluffy (don't uncover during cooking; after 1 hr I turn the burner off and leave the pot covered to steam for at least another 5 minutes).

While the rice is cooking, cook the carrot, peas & chilies in a steamer or microwave oven until just tender (alternatively, you can boil being careful not to overcook). Drain and set aside.

Melt the ghee or heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet or a Dutch oven. Add garlic & ginger and saute for 1 minute until fragrant. Add onions & cashews, and saute until golden. Stir in the cooked vegetables, garam masala, coriander & salt, and saute for 1 minute until the vegetables are coated with the spice mixture. Reduce heat to low, stir in the cooked rice and cook, stirring regularly, until thoroughly combined and heated through. Taste for balance and add more salt and/or garam masala if desired. Serve hot, garnished with some chopped coriander leaves or cilantro, and/or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if desired.  Makes 6 to 8 servings, and the leftovers taste even better the next day because the flavors will continue to develop if refrigerated overnight.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company


  1. G'day and YUM, Gloria, true!
    WISH could come through the screen and taste some of this now too!
    Cheers! Joanne

    1. Howdy Joanne, and thanks for the compliment! I was very glad to have made a LARGE pot of this pulao, because the leftovers were even better and kept me well-fed for a couple more days. If I could have sent you some, I would :-)
      Zestfully yours,