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Vegetable pulao

Pulao is a dish that came down to India from Persia, called a polow, within rice cooked with other ingredients including meat. These dishes were usually the centrepiece of any feast. Pilaf also was seen in Turkey and the other Middle Eastern states from where they travelled down to India with the Mughal invasions. They all resembled the original dish of a mix of rice and other ingredients. In India, vegetable pulaos become popular due to the rise of Buddhism and other vegetarian religions. Today a pulao is omnipresent with every state and community having a version, each of them different and delicious.

This pulao is no different. The pulao is loaded with vegetables and the rice is cooked in a base of tomatoes and coconut milk making this dish rich and flavourful. There is a beautiful balance of spices and the long-grain basmati rice is separate and not gummy. This pulao is perfect on any table and can be served a s a side with both vegetarian and meat curries.

This little cookbook that I picked up in Cochin many years ago is one of my favorites for Kerala cuisine. The recipes are packed in, this is not the glossy picture recipe book, but it makes up with its depth of wonderful and authentic recipes. It is also so cheap, you cannot resist but buy it, if you can find it after all these years. You will definItaly see me publish from here more, as I have cooked a large part of this book over the decades.

For more wonderful recipes from this cookbook, click here.


2 tablespoons ghee or oil

1-inch piece of cinnamon stick

5 cloves

6 green cardamom pods

15 black peppercorns

1 teaspoon caraway (shah jeera) seeds

1 small onion, finely diced

2-3 green chillies, sliced longitudinally (optional)

1 teaspoon ginger paste

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 cups mixed vegetables, see note below

2 tomatoes, purèed

A handful of cilantro and mint leaves

Juice of 1 lime

Salt, to taste

2 cups basmati rice

1 cu coconut milk

Note: For the mixed vegetables use any three of the following: Carrots, beans, peas, cabbage, chayote, pumpkin, knol kohl, or other of your choice.

Heat the ghee in a pot and add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns and shah jeera and sauté for 1 minute. Add the onions and green chillies and fry till the onions are lightly golden. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 1 minute till the ginger is aromatic.

Add the vegetables and cook for 3 minutes on medium heat till the vegetables are coated in oil and have taken on a green hue. Add the tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Add the rice to a rice cooker. Add the coconut milk and top up with water till the required amount. Add the herbs, cilantro and mint, and the cooked vegetables and lime juice and mix in well.

Cook as per the rice cooker's instructions. Remove and fluff the rice. Serve immediately garnished with cilantro and mint.

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