It was bad news even before the New Year started. My Hubby’s hometown is an hour drive from both Pondicherry and Cuddalore the worst hit places by the Cyclone “Thane”. Both the days were spent in calling up our relatives and friends and checking up on their safety. The worst part was that no phone connection could be established at all as the cell phone towers have been felled by the relentless ghostly winds. It was a sad day for me as their places have been totally ransacked. They will not be getting electricity at least for the next 10-15 days.
They do not have basic supplies of drinking water, fuel, milk, vegetables etc., We wanted to travel there and check up personally but my In-laws were stubborn to let us come as there are literally no roads left to travel. All the roads are blocked by the felled trees damaging the phone and electric cables. The worst hit were the farmer friends as they have lost the crops of rice and sugarcane which they had planned to harvest a week before “Pongal”.
It was very disheartening to hear our Aunt’s crying over the phone as the oldest Mango tree in the village which stood so majestically in her grove has been uprooted completely by the ghastly winds. The specialty of the tree is that it bears fruits all around the year and there are so many swings on the trees branches for the children to play. It wasn’t their mistake that they consider the animals they rear, crops they sow and plants and trees they take care of as their own children. Who are we to judge and rant at Nature when it chooses to show its darker side ? All I could do was feel happy in the thought that no physical damage has been done to their lives and homes and pray that they return back to their lives soon enough.
- Basmati Rice - 1+1/2 cups
- Tomato – 3
- Onion – 2, medium size
- Mint leaves – 1/2 bunch
- Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
- Cardamom – 1
- Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
- Cloves – 2
- Bay leaf – 1, torn
- Fennel Seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
- Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Oil / ghee – 2 tbsp
Wash and soak the Basmati rice for 10-15 min. Chop the onions into juliennes and the tomatoes roughly. Wash the mint leaves and keep aside.
Heat oil or ghee in a pressure cooker body. Add whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf and fennel seeds and sauté till the aroma arises. Add the onions and sauté till they turn pink. Add the ginger garlic paste and sauté for another min or two till the raw smell disappears. Add the mint leaves now and cook for another min till they shrink in size.
Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and cook till the tomatoes become slightly mushy. Add the red chilli powder and mix well. Now add the soaked basmati rice after draining the water completely. Now add 3 cups of water, garam masala powder and salt and mix it a good mix.
Close the lid and cook for 2 whistles. Release pressure immediately. Fluff the rice with a fork and Serve hot with Yogurt Raita.
How to retain the basmati rice to remain separate even after cooking / How to prevent the Basmati rice from becoming mushy after cooking:
- Oil a big plate and keep it ready. (A “Thambaalam” would be a good choice). Release the pressure immediately by gently lifting the weight of the pressure cooker with a spoon after you switch off the stove. Open the lid after the pressure is released. Tip the contents of the cooker onto the oiled plate and shake and tap the plate so that the rice spreads all over the plate by itself. Wait for the steam to pass and gently using a sharp edged ladle or a fork fluff the rice. This will avoid the starch from building up and turning the rice mushy while mixing.
- Never ever mix the rice in the cooker itself.
- Avoid using wooden spatulas.
- You can use regular rice for making this pulao.
- You can also puree the tomatoes and adjust the water accordingly.
- You can also use a handful or two of fresh peas.