[This recipe is now on Foodbuzz “Top 9” list. Friends, thank you all for buzzing it up to this rank. Thanks for stopping by and motivating me!]
About 1,300 years ago, the Zoroastrians from Iran settled in Gujarat, India. The descendants of this community are known as the Parsis. Parsi food is truly a unique balance of Persian and Gujarati cuisine! I love Parsi cuisine because of two things: they are lavish in using dry fruits and the dishes are just mildly spicy.
Soon after my marriage, we settled in Mumbai in 2004. This was the time when I tasted many Parsi dishes, such as patra-ni-macchi (fish wrapped in banana leaf) and dhansaak (a curry of lentils, vegetables and mutton). Amused by the extraordinary taste of Parsi cuisine, I started to learn a few dishes from an elderly Parsi lady, who used to pan out absolutely fabulous Parsi fare every time we used to visit her. When we were leaving for Hong Kong, she lovingly passed me an old notebook with some authentic Parsi recipes. This recipe is taken from her notebook and AN strongly believes that this is the best vegetarian pulav I have ever made!
Dry fruits, mace and saffron are an integral part of this pilaf. Speaking about dry fruits, let me tell you that red barberries (the most important dry fruit in mewa no pulav) are often difficult to get. The taste of these berries is sweet and sour. I could not find barberries in Hong Kong, so I substituted them with dried cranberry raisins, which led to an extremely satisfactory taste as well! Apart from barberries, I could get the other dry fruits very easily: dried figs, pine nuts, cashewnuts, golden raisins and dried apricots.
Personally, I’d like to do away with the pumpkin seeds next time. Also, make sure that you use the best-quality and the freshest yogurt for this pulav because issues such as sour yogurt can ruin all your effort towards cooking up this culinary masterpiece!
Parsi mewa no pulav
[Mewa means dry fruits and pulav is an Indian aromatic rice preparation. This recipe serves 6 people.]
Ingredients (for rice):
- Basmati rice: 4 cups
- Purple onions (thinly sliced): 2
- Mace flowers: ½
- Carraway seeds (shahi jeera): 1 tsp
- Saffron strands: ¼ tsp
- Salt: 1 tsp
- Ghee (Indian clarified butter): 1 tsp
- Light oil: for frying
Ingredients (for mewa and vegetables):
- Dried cranberry raisins: ½ cup
- Dried apricots: ½ cup
- Dried figs: ½ cup
- Dried golden raisins: ¼ cup
- Whole cashewnuts (fried): 12
- Pine nuts: ¼ cup
- Pumpkin seeds (optional): 10
- Purple onion (chopped): 1.5 cups
- Potatoes (de-skinned, cubed and fried with a little salt): 1 cup
- Boiled green peas: ½ cup
- Carrots (cubed and boiled with a little salt): ½ cup
- French beans (cut and boiled with a little salt): ½ cup
- Tomato (chopped): 1.5 cups
- Coriander leaves: 1 tbsp
- Mint leaves: 1 tsp
- Fresh yogurt: ½ cup
- Sugar: 3 tsp
- Salt: According to taste
In this pulav, we will make two kinds of rice, one white and the other orange, and assemble them towards the end.
Deep fry the thinly sliced purple onions in a mixture of 1 tsp ghee and light oil and keep aside.
Making the white rice:
To make the white rice, add the soaked rice into the rice cooker with a little extra water (just a little more than that required to immerse the contents). Add half each of the following: fried onions, caraway seeds, mace and salt. When it is done, spread in a big plate.
Making the orange-coloured rice:
Now make the orange-coloured rice. Add half of the remaining basmati rice, along with saffron and the remaining ingredients listed for making the rice. Spread this in a big plate as well.
Treating the dry fruits:
Fry all the dry fruits in a little ghee and boil them in sugar-water mixture (1 tsp sugar in 2 cup water).
Treating the vegetables:
Heat ghee in a pan and add the chopped onions. Fry till these just become a little softer. Add the fried potatoes and the boiled vegetables and cook for 3-4 min on a medium flame. Add the coriander leaves and mint and mix well.
Making the sweet yogurt mixture:
Mix the yogurt, 2 tsp sugar and chopped tomatoes. Add this yogurt mixture to the vegetables and mix lightly.
Assembling the pulav:
Take a handful of white rice and orange-coloured rice each and mix them lightly with a handful of vegetable-yogurt-tomato mixture. Repeat the process till all the contents are mixed. Transfer half of this pulav into a microwave-safe glass container. Sprinkle the treated dry fruits all over the rice. Add the rest of the pulav on this. Finally, sprinkle the rest of the dry fruits lavishly on top of the pulav.
Seal this with a cling film and microwave (low power) for 5 min. Serve hot.
Sean of Food on the Table passed me a beautiful “Everyday Foodie” award, displayed at the right hand side of Cosmopolitan Currymania, under the section “Awards”. Thank you, Sean, for this wonderful award!
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