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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A - Z Indian Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi Series ~ B for Bengali Basanti Polao / Mishti Polao

Many basic versions of pulao exist in Indian regional cuisine that pair well with a spicy curry or gravy. Most of them sound similar and vary very minutely and today's basanti polao is one such dish. Yes, it's not a typo. It's called polao instead of pulao. It is a specialty from the Bengal region and is usually reserved there for auspicious occasions like Durga pooja, new year celebration and so on. The word 'basanti' has nothing to do with basant, the spring season but stands for the polao's bright yellow color. The rice is also called holud polao for the same reason. This rice delicacy is  called misthi polao as well since it is on the sweeter side unlike the regular pulao dishes. 

It is usually served with a spicier side dish to balance out the sweetness from the polao. The use of saffron lends a yellow tinge to the dish and food color is added as well for the yellow color of the pulao but not turmeric, according to some Bengali food bloggers. (I am not a fan of food colors to be honest and turmeric is of course an healthier choice. The bloggers were mentioning that one should not feel the whiff of turmeric from the dish.) 

It is distinctly yellow in color, subtly rose flavored and unmistakably sweeter. Not enough sweeter that it can be served as a dessert on it's own but sweet enough to put it apart from the savory versions. If one is counting calories then feel free to decrease the quantity or totally skip the sugar even if purists may scoff at the suggestion since it may no longer be called a misthi polao.

Bengalis use a locally cultivated rice called Gobindobhog rice which is a short grain, sticky and aromatic rice. The rice supposedly imparts an inviting aroma and flavor to this rice delicacy. I used aged Basmati rice instead. The addition of rose water lifts the flavor of the dish. The dish is subtly spicy and serves as a base for spicy curries. The most popular Bengali accompaniment to this polao seems to be a mutton curry called kosha mangsho. Vegetarian side dishes like aloor dum and aloo phulkopir dalna would go well with this polao. I preferred a gravy curry instead.
1 cup rice *
2 tbsp. ghee
2 tbsp. cashew nuts
2 tbsp. raisins
2 - 3 cardamom
2 - 3 cloves 
1 inch cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 and 1/2 cups water
3 tbsp. sugar
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. garam masala
A pinch of saffron strands soaked in a tbsp. milk 
A few drops yellow food color
Few drops of rose water
* Use Gobindobhog rice if available and if not, Basmati rice would be a great substitute. 

* Rinse and soak rice for about 30 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
* Heat ghee directly in a small pressure cooker and add cashews and raisins. Toast until cashews are golden and raisins turn plump. Remove them with a slotted spoon onto a plate and keep them aside.
* To the same ghee, add cardamom, clove, cinnamon and bay leaf. Toast them for 30 seconds and then add drained rice. Saute them for few seconds.
* Add water and the remaining ingredients. Stir them once and pressure cook for 3 whistles. Wait until the valve pressure is gone. Add the toasted cashews and raisins to the polao, fluff and serve with a spicy side dish.

So far in my Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi series,
A for Ambur Biryani


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


Srivalli said...

Excellent choice Suma and it's coming up soon on mine. Loved reading the intro ☺

Sharmila Kingsly said...

Looks super tempting and sounds delicious..

Sowmya :) said...

Such a rich and tasty rice dish. My daughter will love all the cashews and raisins in this dish. Lovely pick!

sushma said...

Wow such a simple, rich and delicious looking Bengali Pulao.
Good one

Kalyani said...

too sweet and it becomes a dessert :-) yes... so true ! my family is partial to savoury rice dishes so had to drop this from my short list.. its beautiflly done, SUma !

Gayathri Kumar said...

This one is so rich Suma and looks absolutely inviting. Even I will be posting a version soon.

Harini R said...

My Bengali friend made this for Durga puja in the local Kali temple. It tastes amazing with a spicy curry as you mentioned. Good pick for the letter, Suma.

vaishali sabnani said...

The pulao looks amazing and was on my list too , I even got Govind Bhog rice , but somehow we’re not made. Looking at this beautiful pulao , I am sure to make it sometime . Loved the detailed introduction .

Srividhya said...

I think we both have to say same pinch all through this marathon. I have this for M as mishti pulao. Love this version of yours. That color is very inviting.

Preeti said...

This rice recipe looks so tasty and flavorful.. good option for sweet lovers.

Pavani said...

The Pulao looks so rich and tasty! Beautifully presented! Thanks for sharing!

CookwithRenu said...

The Pulao looks rich and yummy. We do not like much of sweet rice and hence did not opt for them. But the way you have made and presented the rice is tempting me to try.

Swati said...

We call it meethe chawal in North India, many people make another version of it clled zarda.. Love the flavours that go into this delicious treat. Your version looks perfectly cooked and so flavourful