Thursday, January 19, 2012

Daily Dinner (11): Meal- for- one- Vegetable Pulao

A's been travelling a lot recently. Don't get me wrong- it's not that I miss him when he's gone or anything like that (we've been married too long for me to be missing him- like really missing him).....I'm just telling you that he's been gone a lot recently. Although he doesn't do anything to help me around the house (as if I hadn't told you that a zillion times already); when he's gone, my tasks get multiplied 10-fold (just can't figure that one out for the life of me).  With him away, I find myself over exhausted and more irritated than usual (which he'll tell you isn't possible- the irritable part, I mean). With him gone, I also lose my reason, and my motivation, to cook. When he leaves, we spend the first couple of days polishing off the leftovers. By the third day or so, my girls get to choose between Maggi noodles or takeout Pizza (which makes them jump with undisguised joy, and makes me wonder why I spend so much time in the kitchen at all....). If he still isn't back, the girls get to eat cookies-and ice-cream for dinner while I make myself another cup of chai and glare morosely at my dried out toast (which dried because it sat too long while I sorted out which of the two girls had a bigger scoop of ice-cream in her bowl).  Most times, that is when fate intervenes and A comes back home - after calling me from the airport to let me know that he didn't get to eat lunch either (I'm not making this up- he always says that...) - and I thankfully gather my pots and pans and plan a menu in my head again.
This last time he went on a business trip though, we'd had a ....well....disagreement; and weren't on talking terms till the night before his flight. Then he left. And we followed our same routine with leftovers and Maggi. He didn't call even once during his trip (well maybe once....from an internet cafe...because he was in Mexico and didn't have  phone or net connection- that's what HE said); and that time he only talked for like 5 minutes with the girls (but he is ALWAYS SUPPOSED to call ME...after the girls go to bed). Then he called the next day from the airport to say....listen to this....that the flight was delayed and he was going to grab a bite at the airport so I needn't wait for him at dinner.  I was SO MAD at him....I was certain he was doing it on purpose (remember our disagreement before he went away?). So I decided I was going to get even. And make us 3 girls a grand dinner.
"What do you two want to eat?" I asked Anya and baby P.
"Isn't daddy coming back today? You always make Indian food when daddy comes home"- said my smart-alec older one.
"He isn't getting home till after midnight- which is technically tomorrow- so no he's not coming home today", I vented some of my frustration on my 9-yr. old.
"Then it should be cookies-and ice cream night; isn't it mommy?" All my sarcasm was totally lost in the innocent excitement of another night of eating mostly-forbidden food for dinner. "Please mommy, can we do it?"
"Please, pletty please?" from baby P- and I was looking down at two tiny faces bright with hope and anticipation. 

I gave up; well sort of. After settling Anya and Baby P infront of the TV with their bowls of "dinner" I made myself some fabulous Vegetable Pulao with fresh Dhania chutney and home-made dahi, ostensibly because I was hungry. But actually to spite him with this picture of my home-alone meal - needless to say Vegetable Pulao is his favorite kind of rice at any given time.

Vegetable Pulao

Long grained Rice 1 measure
Coarsely chopped mixed vetables 1 measure ( had peas, potatoes and some carrots)
Water 2 and 1/2 measures
I smallish onion cut into slivers
1/2tsp tomato sauce
Red chilli powder 3/4tsp
Salt to taste
Cumin 1tsp
Ghee 1Tbsp

Whole spices: 1 each of small and large cardamom,
2-3 cloves,
5-6 white peppercorns,
1/2 of a bayleaf

  1. Wash and soak the rice for 30 min- about the time you will need to chop and prep the rest of the things.
  2. In a heavy bottomed kadai, heat the ghee, and splutter cumin seeds. Add the whole spices, wait for 30 seconds to a min. till the aroma comes out.
  3. Add the onion and cook till translucent.
  4. Next, mix in your veggies, tomato paste, salt and pepper powder and sautee on high for 2-3 min.
  5. Now drain and put in your rice. Sautee it for another minute or so, till the rice begins to appear brittle.
  6. Slowly leave in your water now. My rule-of-thumb is that the water level in the kadai should be about an inch higher than that of rice.
  7. Let cook over high heat till all the water is absorbed (about 10-12 min.) The rice Then cover the kadai with a tight- fitting lid and let the rice cook completely in their own steam. That's it...enjoy!
My two cents: Vegetable pulao is a favorite with all the three men in my life- my dad, my brother and A. For my dad, my mom always put in cauliflower florets, and for my bro, it was the fried pieces of paneer that did the trick. A has simpler tastes- he just likes his with lots of peas. My usual accompanment for a pulao is dahi, and the cilantro chutney, if I'm feeling generous..  In my mom's kitchen, pulao was always served with a tangy, very spicy tomato chutney, papad, achaar and jeera-ka-tadka (with even more red chillies) on the side. You can really put in anything and play with your taste buds with a pulao.

The way I like my rice is what we call "khada chawal" in hindi- each grain of rice is slightly firm, but not undercooked. If you like yours well done, increase the water by another 1/2 measure and it should be good. I like Pulao any which way it can be had, and so does A. It is definitely a very satisfying meal-for-one.

Linked to :
1) Let's cook - Rice
2) Royal Feast- Biryani
3) Family Friendly Recipes