Coastal Indian Maratha style Pulao

[media-credit id=2 align=”alignright” width=”280″]Maratha style Chicken pulao[/media-credit]

Ingredients for 6 -7 servings
3 cups basmati rice
½ cup ghee or vegetable oil
1 dried bay leaf
4 cloves
5 cups hot water

Egg Potatoes or Meat Masala
3 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
3 black peppercorns
2 cloves
1 black cardamom
2 green cardamoms
1 dried bay leaf
1” cinnamon stick
1½ cups finely chopped white onions
2 Indian green chillies, 2”- 2½” long, chopped
3” fresh ginger root, peeled, puréed
6 cloves garlic, puréed
4 plum or red tomatoes, chopped
2 cups full-cream-milk, plain yogurt
2 heaped tbsp Malvani garam masala (recipe in the book A Sense for Spice) or use store bought Garam masala
½ tsp saffron strands
Salt to taste
12 eggs or 1.5 kg cooking potatoes peeled and quartered or 2 kg boneless meat of your choice
To assemble and serve the pulao
1 cup cubed potatoes, fried
½ cup finely sliced onions, fried
12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, quartered
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves

Wash the rice and soak it in water for 2 hours.
Rinse the rice and drain completely.
Heat the ghee or oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan that has a tight-fitting lid.
Add the bay leaf and cloves and sauté on medium heat for about 1 minute.
Add the rice and gently sauté for about 30 seconds.
Add 5 cups of hot water. Stir, cover the pan and cook on medium heat for about 6 minutes, till the rice is fluffy.
Switch off the heat and keep the pan covered so the rice continues to cook in its own steam.
Fluff up the rice with a fork and spread on a large plate to cool.

Egg Masala
Heat the ghee or oil in a large, deep pan. Add the whole spices and sauté on high heat, till they sizzle and rise to the surface. Drain the spices and discard.
Add the onions and green chillies to the spiced oil and sauté on medium heat, till soft.
Stir in the ginger and garlic and sauté for another minute.
Add the tomatoes and sauté on high heat for 3-4 minutes, till they are completely pulped.
Mix in the yogurt and Malvani garam masala and continue to cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring constantly, till the yogurt thickens, splits and releases its oil.
If using meat or potatoes add now and stir well. Cook on medium heat, till the meat and or potatoes are tender.
Sprinkle in the saffron and salt to taste.
Switch off the heat and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

To assemble the pulao
Spoon half the cooked rice into the bottom of a bundt pan or a large ring-shaped mould about 4” deep. If you don’t have either of these use a round ovenproof dish that into your pressure cooker.
Pat down the rice and dot with some fried potatoes and onions.
Spoon all the meat or potatoes with its gravy evenly over the rice bed.
Cover with the remaining rice, pat down and seal tightly with aluminium foil. Refrigerate overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
Reheat either by steaming in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes, or place it in a bain marie (warm water bath) in an oven heated to 150⁰C for 1 hour.
Turn out on to a large serving platter. Garnish with the remaining fried potatoes and onions and the hard-boiled eggs and coriander leaves.
Serve hot.

photo credit Deepa Netto