I frequently get asked how to cook pulao, specifically, how to cook the Bengali style basanti pulao. I will be honest with you. I don’t cook pulao very often. Pulao, I think, is haughty and temperamental. It looks at the cook with disdain and judges them. If it doesn’t like what it sees, it sweats and clags and bursts into torrents of petulant foam.
I got a very early exposure to cooking pulao. It used to be a huge deal in my Kolkata home where, on birthdays and anniversaries, my mom and aunt would wash a huge handi of gobindobhog rice, coat it with ghee, salt, sugar, turmeric, and aromatic spices and then spread the rice over large cane mats for hours to dry, before cooking over low flame. This would be a 5-6 hour-long affair. I had the Bengali basanti pulao recipe memorized even before I had memorized the number 5 table. But I still don’t think pulao likes me very much. Because even when I do everything by the book, I don’t quite get the same results as my mother. I guess pulao and I don’t get along because I am temperamental too.
I have, however, figured out a much easier way to cook vegetable or peas pulao where I don’t have to confront the pulao. I like to cook vegetable pulao in the microwave. I have tried this recipe a hundred times and there have never been any problems.
For this vegetable pulao recipe, I don’t use any food coloring or turmeric, but you can as easily make a basanti pulao in the microwave. Just add yellow food color or turmeric to the soaked rice with the vegetables. You can also use any basanti pulao or vegetable pulao recipe and cook it in the microwave. You just have to follow the rice to water ratio rule and use the right time and heat settings and break the recipe into microwave friendly steps following this microwave pulao in 20 minutes recipe format.
Try this quick one-pot meal recipe to add to your collection of environment-friendly Indian recipes.
Microwave pulao in 20 minutes
- 1 cup rice preferably basmati
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 star anise
- 2-3 cardamoms
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1/2 cup cauliflower florets cut into small florets
- 1/4 cup peas
- 1/4 cup green beans diced
- 1/4 cup carrots diced
- handful of raisins
- handful of cashew nuts
- salt to taste
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- sugar to taste
- 2 cups water
- Wash and soak rice in water for 30 minutes. Drain water and set soaked rice aside in a microwave-safe bowl.
- Heat oil in a pan and add star anise, cardamom, bay leaf, and ginger.
- Add vegetables and cook for 2 minutes.
- Now add raisins, nuts, and salt. Remove from heat.
- Add ghee, garam masala, and sugar to the soaked rice and stir to coat well. Now add the vegetables and 2 cups of water.
- Microwave for 15-16 minutes (depending on how long it takes to cook rice in your microwave). If possible, give it a stir after 12 minutes of cooking. You may need to add some extra water.