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Monday, April 15, 2019

A - Z Indian Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi Series ~ M for Motiwale Pulao / Moti Pulao

The most common basic versions of Indian pulaos have to be a plain nuts' based pulao or a ghee rice or even a jeera rice, that pair well with a spicy gravy. My pulao - biryani exploration for this marathon showed me that there are many regional variations of the same with few extra touches that make them unique. Like the Basanthi Pulao from the Bengal region and the Mewa Pulao from Rajasthan with a dose of sweetness. The Kashimiri version with fresh fruits thrown in that sets it apart from being a plain, bland pulao. Today's version of moti or motiyonwale pulao that comes from the state of Rajasthan is one such dish with a special touch. It is bland on it's own and so be sure to serve it with a spicy side dish and a raita. Mine was served with a spicy gravy which is not pictured here.

The addition of fried balls made with a combination of grated paneer and ground cashews and adorned with edible silver foil aka 'chandi ka warq' lend a richness to this pulao and seems to fit a royal kitchen. Moti, pronounced as mow-thi (as in thin) means 'pearl' and the name of the dish must be alluding to those gilttery silver warq balls that look like shiny pearls. Make sure to make the balls tiny if using silver foil to replicate the pearls. 

Silver warq or varak is edible and adding silver and even sometimes gold foils to sweets, dry fruits, supari and other stuff is common in the Indian subcontinent. The fragile foil is flavorless and just added for the richness it imparts to the appearance of the sweets. The thinner version foil tends to stick to skin when handled directly. I let go the silver warq from the recipe but if using, make sure that you are using a vegetarian version, that is if you are practicing vegetarianism.

Warq is made by placing and pounding the pure metal dust between parchment sheets until it is molded into a foil, which takes about two hours. The sheets are typically packed with paper for support, which is peeled away before use. The traditional method involves manually pounding the particles between layers of ox, goat or cattle hide because it is easier to separate the silver leaf from animal tissue than to separate it from paper. Hyderabad was once famous for this dying art. The recent common process uses ox guts where the hammering leads to the intestines become part of the silver foil. The concerns raised by vegetarians have led to production using modern technologies where beating over sheets of black special treated paper or polyester sheets coated with food grade calcium powder takes  instead of hide / guts. Also there are safety issues since sometimes to make quick money, aluminium is used instead of silver which is toxic. The government had banned the usage of guts and hides in 2016 only to halt the directive as a result of job losses. (Source:Wiki)
Recipe source: Here
Ingredients: (yield 2 - 3 servings)
1/2 cup heaped Basmati rice
2 tsp. ghee / oil
2 tbsp. each raisins and cashews
2 cloves
2 green cardamoms
1 bay leaf
1 inch cinnamon piece
Few saffron strands
1.5 tsp. salt
Ingredients for paneer balls:
1/2 cup paneer, grated 
1 tbsp. cashew powder
1/2 tbsp. corn starch
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
Silver warq sheet if using

* Rinse and soak rice in water for about 30 minutes. Drain and keep aside. 
* Add grated paneer, cashew powder, corn starch and salt to a mixing bowl. Knead into a smooth dough and roll into small balls. Make sure to make them tiny if using silver foil to cover them.
* Heat sufficient oil in a kadai or a small frying pan. Deep fry the paneer balls on medium heat, until light golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on absorbent paper towel lined plate. Let the fried balls cool and cover them with silver warq, if using.
* Heat ghee in a pan until it is melted and add raisins and cashews. Toast them until cashews turn light golden brown and raisins plump up. Remove them with a slotted spoon and keep them aside. To the same ghee, add cloves, bay leaf, cardamom and cinnamon. Saute the spices until fragrant.
* Next add rice and stir gently for about a minute. Add about a cup of water, saffron and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat. Cover and cook until rice is done, about 15 - 20 minutes.
Pressure cook for 2 whistles adding only 3/4 cup of  water.
* Garnish the pulao with fried paneer balls, raisins and cashews.
* Serve with a spicy gravy curry.

So far in my Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi series,
A for Ambur Biryani
B for Basanti Pulao / Misthi Pulao
C for Corn - Fenugreek Greens Pulao
D for Donne Biryani
E for Ek Toap na Dal Bhaat
F for Fada ni Khichdi
G for Gutti Vankaya Biryani
H for Hyderabadi Vegetable Dum Biryani
I for Iyengar Puliyogare
J for Jaipuri Mewa Pulao
K for Kashmiri Pulao

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#99.



Sharmila Kingsly said...

Really delicious..grated Paneer and cashew balls on thinking only makes me go gaha.defnitely going to try this out ...

vaishali sabnani said...

Suma , years back when I was a kid I saw these guys pounding the silver to make varak , it sure is hard work , but I gave up eating mithai with vark long back . We really don’t know wether they use aluminium or actually silver - it’s best to avoid though I use it at times for presentation .
Coming to the Moti pulao . It looks absolutely fantastic , I like the simplicity of the rice with the complex Moti’s ! Excellent pick .

Suma Gandlur said...

Vaishali, I never liked eating sweets with waraq layer, to be honest. Even as a kid, I would carefully peel away the silver layer before eating them. I have grown skeptical as an adult at the idea of consuming metal even if it is edible.

Gayathri Kumar said...

I didn't know that aluminium is used. OMG! I once bought those warq because of the beauty they add to sweets, but now, I will keep my distance. The moti pulao looks fabulous, the tiny paneer balla add a lot of texture and taste.

sushma said...

Wow Moti wale pulao looks amazing. Fried paneer balls might have given nice and crunchy taste tot he dish.

Harini R said...

The usage of warq has always been shunned in our family. So I have never used it so far. But these motis in the pulao look very appetizing and look like palakayalu (made for janmashtami)

Kalyani said...

Having bookmarked this, I was somehow hesitant as we are getting a bit dairy-shy these days, ... your dish looks very vibrant and inviting, Suma..

Srivalli said...

Its good to see the same dish presented here, very nicely done Suma. I didn't add warq excatly for the same reasons. Guess we can still enjoy this delicious pulao otherwise too..

Srividhya said...

I am booking this one. That paneer balls sounds so delicious Suma.

cookwithrenu said...

Love the addition of paneer balls in a pulao. Such an intersting recipe this is and with protein and carbs together.

Swati said...

I love this simple and easy to make , Moti Pulao. Goes so well with any spicy curry.. Your platter looks so gorgeous with paneer moti on it..