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Recipes

Uzair’s Dum ka Matar Pulao

Recipe by: Uzair Siddiqui

Serves 4–6

Uzair’s Dum ka Matar Pulao
Photo by:  

Melati Citrawireja

While matar pulao might be considered too pale a rice dish in comparison to the mighty biryanis of the Indian subcontinent, it is a wonderful pulao to have at the height of spring . My family always ate matar pulao for lunch on Eid. On a day where one tends to overeat at festive gatherings, this was our choice of a light, one-pot meal that didn’t overwhelm both maker and eater after a month of fasting and skipping lunch. This version of matar pulao is made on a dum, with yogurt moisturizing the contents of the pulao and lemon juice gives the rice some gloss. Serve the pulao with a fresh chutney of mint, cilantro and green chilies, a raita or your favourite achaar.

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 2 medium (Indian) bay leaves
  • 4 pods Baraka Cardamom or Iniya Cardamom
  • 4 Kandyan Cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Nagauri Cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick (2-3 inch long)
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 small onion or shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons green garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Nandini Coriander, pan-roasted and hand powdered
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, pan-roasted and hand powdered
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered Guntur Sannam Chillies or chili flakes
  • 1 serrano or 2 green chilies, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups (200g) fresh peas, shelled
  • 1 cup (200g) basmati rice, washed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons whole fat plain yogurt (not Greek)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 cups water

Methods

  1. Heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch over medium-high heat. Add in the whole spices—bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and cumin. Let the spices sizzle until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the onions and sauté, reducing the heat to medium,  until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Next, add the minced green garlic and ginger, cover and let everything cook until the alliums begin to soften, about another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the powdered spices—coriander seed and fennel seed, as well as the crushed chilli and mix well. Add the chopped green chillies. If the mixture feels too dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of water to prevent the spices from burning.
  3. Add the peas, mix well and cook until just starting to become tender, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and taste. Adjust accordingly.
  4. Add the drained rice and mix everything well. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the water and taste for salt. 
  5. Increase the heat to high, add yogurt and mix well to let it “dissolve.” After about a minute squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Cover the lid and let this boil on a high flame until it reaches a vigorous boil, about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Transfer the covered cooking vessel and place it on top of a hot cast iron pan. On a low flame, let the pulao boil for 5-6 minutes. (This method of cooking with a closed lid over indirect heat is called dum.)
  7. Once all the water is absorbed, turn off the heat, allow the pulao to rest covered for 10-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork or a chopstick, and serve. 

Cook’s note: A Dutch oven works very well for a technique like dum since the weight of the lid ensures a good seal. If you do not have a Dutch oven, use a heavy-bottomed pan with a tight-fitting lid, wrapping the lid with a kitchen towel.