Today, being a Public Holiday, I didn’t have office today. So, this gave me ample reason to celebrate. I wanted to cook something special for lunch.
I am really fond of Bengali cuisine and so from time to time, I like to try out Bengali dishes. Bengali cuisine is typically having the strong presence of poppy seeds and mustard. I have also tried the Bengali-Mughlai food like Chicken Rezala earlier but this time I wanted to try out the same dish with Fish. And to go with it, I decided to prepare the Bengali Mishti Pulao, sans the yellow colour.
My mother makes this wonderful pulao that is very similar to this Bengali Mishti Pulao, but to get the rich brown color, she fries lots of sliced onions with some sugar to caramelize it and does not add saffron milk. I am not too sure if she adds grated ginger but I remember her adding cashews and raisins and cooking the pulao in a Handi, sealed with a dough and the lid is shut with a heavy weight on top of it, similar to how biryani is cooked on dum. Paired with her yoghurt based mutton curry, they were a Hit with everyone. I could finish off all of the pulao just like that, it was that tasty! Many years after, I tried hard to imitate that same pulao but am yet to get the exact taste but I am confident I will nail that soon. 🙂
Although the Mishti Pulao turned out perfect this time, I couldn’t say the same for the Rezala as I was not watching the pan too closely and so it got too heated up and browned the gravy instead of having a smooth yoghurt like texture and color. But, thankfully, that didn’t affect the taste adversely and still went well with the pulao.
Bengali Mishti Pulao
Source: Color and Spices
- Rice: 1 cup
- Water: 2 cups
- Cashew nuts: 1/4 cup
- Raisins: 1/4 cup
- Ginger (grated): 1 tsp
- Bay leaves: 1-2
- Shahjeera / black cumin: 1 tsp
- Cinnamon: 1 stick
- Green cardamom: 3
- Cloves: 6-7
- Nutmeg powder: 1/8 tsp
- Saffron: a pinch
- Milk: 2 tbsp
- Sugar: 2-3 tbsp
- Salt to taste
- Ghee /clarified butter: 4 tbsp
- Prepare the rice for cooking: Soak the Basmati rice in water for 30 min. Wash and drain. Usually, the rice is colored with turmeric or food color to get a yellow color but I prefer my rice natural so skipped the turmeric.
- Prepare the saffron: Soak saffron in lukewarm milk, cover and keep aside.
- Fry the Nuts: In a deep pan, heat 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter), fry the cashew nuts ans raisins till they turn brown, keep aside. You can use oil along with ghee. But it is preferable to cook this rice with ghee only.
- Make the Pulao: In the same pan add more ghee, as the ghee melts, add the bay leaves, shahjeera, cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves and cook for 1 min.
- Add the soaked rice, grated ginger and gently give a stir. Cook for 3-4 min. the rice needs to fried in ghee.
- Add milk-soaked saffron and cook over medium heat for 1-2 min. Add hot water to the rice. The water and rice ratio is 2:1. Add salt and sugar, mix gently, cover the pan. As the water starts to boil, keep the lid ajar and cook for 8-9 min.
- Switch off heat, sprinkle nutmeg powder and little more ghee, cover and let stand for 10-12 min.
- You may serve this with some Mughlai dish like Fish Rezala, the recipe for which is given below.
Bengali Fish Rezala
Source: Peek and Cook
FOR THE MARINADE:
FOR THE GRAVY:
- Vegetable oil – 2 tablespoons
- Curd – 1/4 cup well beaten
- Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tablespoons
- Onion paste – 1/2 cup
- Ghee – 2 tablespoons
- Coriander powder – 1 tablespoon
- Cashew and poppy seed paste 1/2 cup
- Cinnamon stick – 1
- Cloves – 3-4
- Cardamom pods – 2-3
- Bay leaf – 1
- Peppercorns – 5-6
- Salt & sugar – as per taste
- Garam masala powder – 1 tbsp
- Kewra Essence – few drops
- 1 fried dry red chilli
- Marinate the fish pieces and fry: Marinate the fish pieces with lemon juice and salt and keep aside for 5 minutes. Now take a pan and heat oil in it and fry the fish pieces and put on a paper towel.
- Prepare the gravy: Heat the ghee in a frying pan and add the whole spices and fry it till fragrant.
- Next, add the onion paste and ginger-garlic paste. Mix well.
- Add the Cashew-poppyseed paste and fry it till the rawness is gone.
- Add the coriander powder, salt and sugar. Stir well and fry it for 1-2 seconds.
- Add the well-beaten curd. Cook for 2- 3 minutes.
- Add the fried fish pieces and mix them gently with the gravy.
- Sprinkle the garam masala powder and keora water over the gravy. Cover the vessel and reduce heat. Cook until gravy becomes thick and oil comes out.
- Garnish with a fried red chilli. You may serve this with Bengali Mishti Pulao, the recipe for which is given above.
I certainly hope this recipe will be attempted with passion and am looking forward to hearing about your experiences and outcome. Do leave your comments below.