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Monday, April 29, 2019

A - Z Biryani / Khichdi / Pulao Series ~ Y for Yakhni Pulao (Vegetarian Version)

Today's yakhni pulao comes from the Kashmiri cuisine, that is said to have originated in Nawabi kitchens. Kashmir was predominantly a Hindu region until the early parts of 14th century. However the subsequent invasions by the Muslim rulers for the next 500 years has led to a cuisine, one that is strongly influenced by the Persian, Central Asian and Afghani cultures. Spices which are considered heat generating are liberally used in their cooking because of the cold climate, but the food is usually mild. Ghee is the traditional medium of cooking.

Today's pulao differs from the standard versions as it uses 'yakhni'. Yakhni is the stock prepared by boiling a bundle of spices along with meat (if it is being used) in water. The meaty broth is then used to cook the rice which makes it more flavorful. The spices are usually tied in a muslin cloth and the bundle is dropped in the water along with the meat in this pulao preparation than adding them directly. The water gets infused with flavors from the spices while the meat is being cooked and the spices are then discarded. One can choose not to tie them in a bundle but however need to scoop out the spices when the final broth is ready.

The pulao is usually made with mutton / meat and is on the milder side. Let the laundry list of ingredients below do not intimidate you, especially if you are eschewing the meat part. The vegetarian version of mine uses vegetables and soy chunks for the protein part which happens to be a favorite ingredient in our household. Paneer or tofu or any beans would be a nice substitution for those who don't prefer soy chunks. It can be served with a raita or a spicy gravy.

Ingredients for pulao: (yield 3 - 4 servings)
3/4 cup basmati rice
1 cup soy chunks
About 2 cups mixed vegetables (I used green beans cut into 1 inch pieces, cubed carrots and peas.)
1 tbsp. ghee
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. ginger - garlic paste
1 small tomato, finely chopped
2 tbsp. yogurt
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp. red chili powder
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds 
Salt to taste ( I used about 1 tsp.)
Ingredients for yakhni stock:
2 small bay leaves
4 black pepper corns
3 cloves
3 cardamom pods
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 inch piece of ginger
1 or 2 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp. mace powder
3 cups water
For fried onions / birista:
Oil to shallow / deep fry
2 medium sized onions, sliced thinly lengthwise

Prep work:
1. Rinse and soak the soya chunks in water for about 10 minutes to rehydrate them. Drain the water after the soy chunks soften.
2. Chop and keep the vegetables ready.
3. Rinse and soak the rice for at least about 20 minutes.

Yakhni preparation:
1. Tie all the ingredients mentioned under 'for yakhni stock' in a clean, small muslin cloth or in one of those mesh balls used as spice infusers for teas. This is called boquet garni. 
2. Add 3 cups of water and bouquet garni to a sauce pan and bring the water to a boil. Add beans, carrots, soya chunks and cook for another 5 minutes. (Actually I added more water and let it boil for about 20 minutes.)Turn off the stove. Remove the boquet garni and squeeze the garlic - ginger to get the maximum flavors. Discard the boquet garni. Scoop out the vegetables with a slotted spoon into a bowl. The stock that you are left with is called 'yakhni'. Measure the yakhni stock and you should have about 1.5 cups of liquid. If the yakhni does not come to that amount, add some extra water to make it 1.5 cups. 

Frying onions:
Fry the onions in hot oil on medium flame until crisp and golden brown. Take care not to burn them. Drain on paper towels and keep them aside.

Cooking pulao:
* Heat ghee in a dry and preferably a non stick pan / pot. Add cumin seeds.
* When cumin seeds start to brown, add ginger- garlic paste. Saute until the raw smell leaves and add tomatoes. Cook until they turn mushy. 
* Next add yogurt and stir until it is blended. Next add fennel seeds if using, half of the fried onions, mixed vegetables, garam masala, salt, chili powder, coriander powder and saute for about 30 seconds. 
* Next add 1.5 cups of  yakhni liquid (or yakhni + water) and stir well once. Cook for about 5 minutes without covering.
* Keep the heat to the lowest setting. Seal the pot with aluminium foil / a wet cloth or some dough and cover the pot with the lid so that the flavors do not escape. Cook for about 15 - 20 minutes on low flame or until the rice is cooked, resisting the temptation to peek. 

So far in my Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi series,
A - Ambur Biryani
B - Basanti Pulao / Misthi Pulao
C - Corn - Fenugreek Greens Pulao
D - Donne Biryani
E -  Ek Toap na Dal Bhaat
F - Fada ni Khichdi
G - Gutti Vankaya Biryani
H - Hyderabadi Vegetable Dum Biryani
I - Iyengar Puliyogare
J - Jaipuri Mewa Pulao
K - Kashmiri Pulao
L - Lucknowi Biryani
M - Motiwale Pulao
N - Nei choru
O - Oodhala Pulao
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#99.


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sushma said...

Wow so many veg versions of Yakhni pulao today. Adding soy chunks makes the dish nice and healthy.

Harini R said...

Loved the vegetarian version of yakhni pulao. I had initially noted it down, but settled for another one.

vaishali sabnani said...

The Yakhani pulao sounds so flavorful with all those spices, the soya chunks naturally add a protein element. The rice is a perfect one for the alphabet Y.

Srivalli said...

Yes looks like many of us choose Yakhni for the day and it was nice reading through it. I used veggies and soya too. Though if I ever make it again, will use paneer..:)

Gayathri Kumar said...

One more delicious verof yakhni pulao. The rice cooked in the stock must be so flavourful. And the vegetables add so much colour to the pulao. It looks fantastic.

Kalyani said...

This TVP adds so much texture and somehow I am not a big fan of it.. although you have done a fab job of replacing the meat with these, Suma !

Srividhya said...

Same pinch. I made yakhni pulao too. Love your version with veggies and soya chunks.

cookwithrenu said...

The Veg yakhini pulao looks healthy with veggies and soya loaded in it.

Swati said...

Such an inviting Pulao bowl.. I love the colors and the flavours in this pulao.. your vegetarian version with soya chunks is too good!!

preeti garg said...

Love the way you serve vegetarian version of yakini pulao, looks so inviting.