Auloo Pulau

Yet another variation on the Pilaf/Risotto/Paella theme. Navratri [Hindi= ‘nine days’] is a nine day Hindu festival held four times a year to honour the Great Mother in each of her nine aspects. Traditions differ widely from community to community, but fasting is a common theme, with certain foods held to be proper for the occasion. Aloo [potato] is one such, and this spicy rice and potato pilaf is a dish that is particularly appropriate for the observation of Navrati. It is also very easy to make and very tasty. It is, of course, strictly vegetarian. The traditional rice is a cultivar known as samwat. Also known as Parsai ke chaawal, samwat [or samvat] rice is a short, round grain almost like sago. It is specified for Navratri meals, and is available from Indian grocery shops and most Asian supermarkets. For the non-traditionalist, Arborio rice works very well, and indeed any rice will do.

2 tblsp ghee.
1 tsp ground cumin.
2 cloves, crushed.
2 tsp ground cinnamon.
2 green cardamoms, crushed.
1 cup Samwat [or Arborio] rice.
1 red chilli, seeded and diced.
1 large potato peeled and diced.
Salt to taste.
2 cups water.
Coriander greens to garnish.

Heat ghee in a pan. Crush the cumin, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon in a mortar and pestle and add to the pan. When they give off their fragrance add the rice, the chilli and the potato. Fry until a light golden colour.

Add the water and salt to taste. Bring to the boil, cover the pan and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for eighteen minutes. Leave, covered, for ten minutes, then fluff up with a fork and serve hot immediately, garnished with green coriander, with a crisp green salad on the side.

Serves: 2.

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