The festive season starts in less than a month and everybody is excited about it. This season gives us an opportunity to indulge in shopping, endless treats and family get together. Sweet aroma floats in the air, people look happier and there’s so much joy everywhere. Bengali Basanti Pulao, also known as Mishti Pulao (Sweet Pilaf), is a quintessential dish during the celebrations. Bengalis love their rice, be it lunch or dinner. And when it’s celebratory or a happy gala, the rice is uplifted with whole spices, nuts and raisins.
This particular pulao is prepared with a special kind of rice called Gobindobhog. It is aromatic short grain rice and adds a lovely flavor to the dish. Sadly, it’s not easily available outside Kolkata but that shouldn’t stop you from trying this rice dish, as it tastes equally good with any other kind of rice.
Basanti literally means yellow and hence, the name of the dish. The yellow shade is an important part of this dish! You could either add a pinch of turmeric powder or go a little extravagant with aromatic saffron! After all, it’s a celebratory rice dish. With the addition of whole spices, nuts and raisins, the pulao turns aromatic and rich. Just add a little bit of sugar for that hint of sweetness. It balances quite beautifully with those whole spices. When paired with a spicy meat curry, it makes for a very delicious meal.
- 1½ cup short grain rice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 green cardamoms
- 5 cloves
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup cashew
- pinch of saffron
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- Wash the rice several times in running water and then spread it on a plate to dry. You could also leave it in a colander.
- In a nonstick deep flat pan, like the KitchenAid Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Nonstick Skillet, add ghee and drop the cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom and cloves. Allow the oil to heat up and get infused with the flavors of these whole spices.
- Add raisins along with cashews and keep tossing it until the cashews are mildly toasted.
- Add the rice, salt and give it a mix.
- Pour water into the pan, add saffron and bring it to a boil. Then, cover the pan and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, when the rice is almost cooked, sprinkle sugar and give it a mix.
- If the water is almost absorbed, pour some more water. Continue cooking for 5 more minutes.
- Once the rice is cooked and the water is absorbed completely, leave the pan covered for 5 minutes and then, fluff it using a fork.
- Serve warm with a few more roasted cashews on top as garnish.
The cooking time of the rice will depend on the kind of rice you use.