Friday, March 26, 2010

A Vegetarian pullao - Channa Pullao: Yellow split lentil pullao

A pullao is rice which is cooked with broth, or yakhni in Urdu. This recipe is vegetarian, so the yakhni used here is made without meat. It is simply water perfumed with garam masala. And I cheat to make this yakhni: I do it in the microwave.

Channa daal pullao with a dollop of Hyderabadi tomato chutney.

I pre-fry my onions and keep them in the freezer. You should finely slice onions, put them in deep oil on high heat, and when they turn translucent, turn down the heat to very low and continue to fry, stirring occasionally until they have become brown-red and crispy (12 minutes for Indian onions, takes longer for yellow onions). They should not blacken, as this will yield a bitter taste. I prefer this method to quick frying because with quick frying the onions often blacken at the edges and the insides stay undercooked. You will need about 2 large-ish Indian onions for this recipe, or 1 large yellow (American type) onion, about 4 tbs fried. I recommend you use home fried even though pre-fried are available at the store, because store fried tend to be bitter.

You will also have to prepare the channa daal. Take 1/2 cup dry channa daal and soak for one hour. Put daal in water on stove and boil, turn heat to low, and cook on low heat for 20 minutes until lentils are tender. Strain from water and set aside. These should be fully cooked, but just barely. I also boil larger quantities of this and freeze to use in pullao, salads, queema, etc.  1/2 cup raw daal will yield 1 cup cooked. You need 1 cup cooked for the recipe.

Now the microwave garam masalon ki yakhni: take garam masala spices, say 2 bay leaves, 3 pieces of cinnamon, 10 cloves, 10 peppercorns, 10 green cardamom pods, 2 large black cardamom pods, 2 whole dried red chiles, a tsp of cumin and a tsp of fennel, a tsp of whole coriander seeds, and put this in water and microwave on high for 5 minutes. (I often just use a heaping spoon of whole spices from a bag of mixed whole garam masala.) Strain the spices from the water. You can toss them out because they have done their job. However, you can keep the larger sized spices "for looks" in your pullao if you like. Keep this yakhni aside. For 2.5 cups basmati rice, 5 cups of yakhni.

So you have prepared all of this stuff in advance. The actual pullao only takes 30 mins or so if you have your daal and fried onions ready.

Channa daal pullao ingredients all ready to go.

You need:

2.5 cups basmati rice, soaked for 10 mins
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1/2 quantity of pre-fried onions (about 2 tbs), crushed gently
1 tsp red chile powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbs salt or to taste (the daal will soak up salt, too, so you need a lot)
1 cup pre-cooked channa daal
1 tsp lime juice
2-3 tbs oil
5 cups garam masalon ki yakhni

1 tsp or more ghee for finishing
2 tbs fried onions for finishing and garnish

Heat oil in pan. Add in cumin seeds and let sizzle. Add in garlic and ginger paste, allow it to turn golden, then quickly add in the pre-fried onions, cumin and chile powder, let sizzle for one short moment, then pour in the yakhni. (do not let the spices burn). Salt the water, add in the soaked rice and the pre-cooked daal, allow this to come to a rolling boil. At this point, stir in the lime juice. I always add lime juice to pullao rice at this point because I have been told that it prevents the rice from sticking together. Dunno if that's true, but that is what I do. Cover, lower heat to the lowest setting, and cook covered for about 18 mins. After you turn off the heat, lift lid to let steam escape, then cover again and allow rice to rest for 10 minutes more to finish steaming and so it won't break when you stir it.

Transfer to serving dish. Drizzle ghee or melted butter on the rice. Add on the remaining pre-fried onions, mixing some of them and the ghee to distribute in the rice, but some onions should remain on top as garnish.

Serve with plain yoghurt or a raita of your choice, such as eggplant raita or spinach raita. This also goes great with various types of chutney. Here is the recipe for the Hyderabadi chutney that I serve with the channa daal pullao (pictured above).

Tip: You can use the same recipe with pre-cooked or canned chickpeas (chhola pullao).


RuhguZar said...

Never thought about perfuming the water for veg pulao type dish, I cant wait to try this. Shukriya for a very informative post. How did u get so good at urdu vocabulary? did u speak some of it before u got married?

luckyfatima said...

Salaamz, my Urdu isn't that good :-) I do hope you try the recipe. Let me know how it comes out.