This is Rita Bai’s recipe. She was a kind, gentle soul from Mangalore who lived with my Masi’s (Aunt) family in Mumbai for over 30 years. She always had a smile or a laugh to share. Always ready to lend a helping hand. She bravely battled the big bad C for over 10 years and finally succumbed to the dreaded ailment. I learnt to cook so many dishes under her tutelage and this one happens to be one of them. I hope all of you out there enjoy cooking this dish as much as I enjoyed learning it from her.
Wherever you may be right now, up there as His angel or reborn, this one’s for you my darling Rita Bai. We will always miss you!
6 big onions, finely chopped
1 big onion, sliced and fried crisp
4-5 green chilies, finely chopped
½ bunch coriander leaves, chopped
2 bunches spring onions, chopped (not too fine)
1 kilo prawns, cleaned and de-veined
3 cups long grain basmati rice, washed and soaked in water for 15 minutes
10 black peppercorns
2 inch pieces cinnamon
Two pinches of saffron, seeped in ¼ cup hot milk
5-6 big tomatoes, blanched, de-skinned and pureed
3 big potatoes, peeled, diced and fried
100 grams green peas, boiled
3 eggs, boiled, shelled and quartered
3 tablespoons chili powder (adjust according to taste, I like the Pulao spicy)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
1 tablespoon Parsee Sambhar masala (optional)
1½ tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
2 teaspoons coriander-cumin powder / dhania-jeera powder
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons oil + 7 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons ghee / clarified butter
- In a thick bottomed vessel heat 7 tablespoons oil. Add the chopped onions, green chilies and sauté till onions are golden brown.
- Add the chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, Parsee Sambhar masala, ginger-garlic paste, coriander-cumin powder, salt and sauté.
- Add the tomato puree and allow to cook till oil separates and gravy reduces and thickens.
- Add coriander leaves, prawns and cook for 2 minutes, till prawns semi-cooked. (Please note: If using lesser quantity then a kilo, then they will get to semi-cooked stage faster).
- Add the spring onions and give it one mix and immediately remove from fire. Keep aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil; add peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamoms and sauté. Add lots of hot water and bring the water to a rapid boil.
- Drain the water from the rice and add rice, salt
and cook till rice is about 90% cooked. Keep aside.
Layering the Pulao:
- Heat ghee / clarified butter in a vessel; ensure that it coats the entire bottom of the vessel.
- Add 1/3rd of the rice and spread it evenly in the vessel.
- Spoon 1/3rd of the saffron water over the rice. Do not drench all the rice with this; it’s ok for it to be unevenly spooned over.
- Layer the rice with half the prawn mixture. Carefully place half of each: peas, egg quarters, potatoes over the rice.
- Add another 1/3rd of rice over the prawn layer and again spoon over saffron milk.
- Repeat the prawn, egg, potato and peas layer.
- Lastly, add the final layer of rice and spoon over the remaining saffron milk. Sprinkle fried onions.
- Cover the vessel with a tight lid. If possible make a dough and seal the lid on the vessel with the dough.
- Place the vessel on medium-low fire over a griddle / tava and allow to cook for about 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot with curds / dahi / yogurt on the side.
- You may retain 3-4 egg pieces, a few pieces of fried potatoes, a tablespoon of peas to garnish the Pulao on the top layer along with the crisp onions. You may also flash-fry three four prawns and retain them for garnish.
- If Parsee Sambhar masala isn’t available, please increase the quantity of chili powder and ginger-garlic a wee bit as that will help balance flavors.
- Please ensure that the prawns are only cooked half way through in the gravy because they further cook in the steam within the layers of rice and you don’t want to end up with overcooked, rubbery prawns.
- The prawns do not receive direct heat when placed within the layers of rice; hence, rest assured, they will not over-cook when kept on the griddle / tava for 20-30 minutes.
- Instead of three layers of rice you may opt for two layers for the pulao. Layer the rice, add the saffron-milk, prawn-gravy, peas, quartered boiled eggs, fried potatoes and then add the second layer of rice and saffron milk.
- If saffron isn’t available to you, feel free to use edible Pulao color for the rice.
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recipe/s but do NOT publish my recipes and my photographs on any blog-site
or website without my explicit consent or attempt to pass off my recipe/s
as your own. You will be held accountable for plagiarism.