Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pulao – Made Easy

 It is the festive season; the festival of lights –Diwali- evokes joyful thoughts and of course also provides some excuse for feasting on some goodies. How about some easy to make pulao?

 Before I go on to the recipe I would like to enlighten you about the rice we Bengalis prefer to use for pulaos. Govind Bhog (or Gobindo Bhog as Bengalis pronounce it) rice is to Bengalis what basmati rice is to north Indians. For a Pravasi Bengali (Probashi Bangali as Bengalis say) or a fourth generation migrant Bengali to be more precise, Govind Bhog was not something I was familiar with until I tasted it. It is not long grained like basmati but has   a subtle flavour and an aroma which is unique. Since Govind Bhog is available only in Kolkata (Calcutta) until now getting a regular supply of Govind Bhog for a Mumbai (Bombay) resident like me remained a pipe dream. My dream however became a reality when I recently   saw an advertisement informing the Bengalis that Govind Bhog was now available in Mumbai. I was initially skeptical about the product but once my mother made the pulao I had no complaints.
 Govind Bhog rice
 Govind Bhog rice (Close Up)

  • Basmati Rice or Govind Bhog Rice
  • Pure Ghee
  • Cumin Seeds
  • Ginger
  • Cloves
  • Green Cardamom
  • Almonds
  • Raisins
  • Nutmeg and Saffron (Optional)
  • Salt and Sugar to taste.
  • Use your judgment when deciding on the quantity of the ingredients; it will depend on the quantity of rice you have taken and of course your taste.

  • Take the required quantity of rice and wash it. Place in vessel and add only so much water to the rice so that the rice is half cooked.
  • Before cooking the rice take a small piece of cloth and on this cloth place small quantities of cumin seeds, whole black pepper and a little bit of crushed ginger.Tie the cloth and add to the vessel containing the rice.
 Bag (potli) containing cumin seeds, pepper & ginger 
  • Also add few pieces of green cardamom, cloves and cinnamon to the rice and cook the rice.
  • While the rice is cooking, take some water in a bowl and add sugar and salt to the water. Leave it aside for a while to allow the salt and sugar to melt.
  • Soak the raisins and pistachios in warm water.
  • Boil a small quantity of water. At the time when the water begins to boil add the almonds to this boiling water. Remove from flame and allow the almonds to soak in this hot water while the rice is cooking. This will help the almonds to soften.
  • If you are using nutmeg and saffron, then soak some strands of saffron in milk and grind a small quantity of nutmeg to a paste. 
  • Once the half-cooked rice is ready, remove the bag containing the cumin seeds, ginger and black pepper. If you wish you may also remove the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon.
Half-cooked rice with all the spices 
  • Heat some pure ghee in a vessel and add the half cooked rice to the ghee.
  • Peel the soaked almonds and chop into slivers and add to the rice.
  • Also add the nutmeg paste, raisins and add the saffron along with milk in which it has been soaked.
  • Stir well so that the rice mixes well with ghee.
  • Pour the water in which you had earlier soaked the salt and sugar.
  • After adjusting the quantity of water to enable you to cook the rice which was half cooked add a little more pure ghee (optional).
  • After the pulao is ready garnish it with chopped pistachios.
Bengalis like their pulao sweet, if you wish you needn’t add sugar or you may add a little bit of sugar just to enhance the taste.


  1. I never knew of this rice variety.And I wonder how your rice looks so white even with so many spices!Anyways with all those fragrant spices,this gotta be yum especially with some gravy

  2. sinfullyspicy: This variety of rice has a lovely aroma. Yes it is yum with gravy and I was thinking of your chicken kofta.

  3. Hmmmm... i really have to find some time to make this. Sounds elaborate :)

  4. But do make it with Gobindo Bhog rice if you can lay your hands on some.

  5. Mmm... that pulao sounds so fabulous! Just last week, I tried out a new recipe I'd found for a Bhopali pulao, which is somewhat unusual in that after you put the whole garam masala into the hot ghee, you fry it and then add sliced onions - and after the onions start turning golden-brown, you put in ginger-garlic paste! That's an ingredient I've never come across in pulaos. This one had diced carrots and peas added to the rice, and tasted wonderful.

    Will try out your pulao soon! Any suggestions on what this would go well with? It sounds as if it would have such a rich flavour on its own, that one would need something light - an interesting raita, perhaps? with it.

  6. I would suggest a nice chicken or mutton gravy dish. It is what I like best. I agree with you about the raita and I feel raita is a must with pulao and biryani.

  7. It was really very interesting to know about Gobind Bhog.I am going to try this pulao with Basmati rice. Right now I am trying the nutritious beet soup

    ruma ( nagpur

  8. Thanks Ruma. Hope you like the beet soup.

  9. Looks very good, Shilpi. I love pulao, though I've never made it. And it looks a bit out of my league.

    Anyway, next time I'm in Mumbai I am dropping in at your place for pulao, ok? ;-)
    Just kidding! :-)

  10. Well, I will take that as a compliment, actually it is my mum who deserves the compliment. I am just an instrument.My mum cooks everything and yes you are most welcome to drop in.

  11. Shilpi..........thanks for such a lovely recipe. I too stay in Mujmbai, could you please tell me where to buy this rice and what do i ask for or is it from any particular brand ?

    1. As far as I know it is not available in Mumbai,we got this from Delhi's Chittaranjan Park and of course you would get it in any place in Kolkatta or West Bengal. For a short while Food Bazaar used to stock it, actually it was some company which used to market it under a brand name, I do not remember the brand name, but now it is no longer available.