As the days of no onion no garlic are nearing to a completion, I am trying to prepare and present some favourite dishes of my in-laws and go the final extra mile to keep them happy and satisfied. Today's recipe is a hot favorite with most Bengalis, especially the old school and also my grandma-in-law's most favorite dish of the whole of Bengali Cuisine. I did not know this until she sat down to eat and I was really glad it turned out exactly the way she likes it. This Pulao is a little on the sweeter side and to balance the sweetness, Bong's usually serve it with some spicy Mutton or Chicken curry. Since it is pure vegetarian in my household these days, I served it with some spicy tangy Allahabadi Aaloo Dum. The potato curry goes best with Indian bread but tasted equally good with the rice as well. All in all an effort well paid for!
2 cups gobindobhog rice (or any fragrant small grained rice)
1/2 cup combination of cashews and raisins
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Few strands of saffron soaked in 1 tbsp milk (optional)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt or as per taste
2 each of cloves, cinammon, cardamom, and bay leaf
2-3 tbsp ghee (I know it is a lot but the taste of this dish lies in this. You can substitute half with oil though)
Wash and soak the rice for 30 minutes. Just before beginning the cooking process, drain the water and keep the rice in a colander.
Heat ghee in a pan and fry the cashews and raisins until fragrant. Remove from pan and keep aside. Now in the same pan add any more ghee if required and splutter the cumin seeds and whole garam masala. Now add the rice, turmeric powder, saffron if using, salt, sugar, and fried cashews and raisins and continue frying on a medium to low heat until the rice is transparent. Now add water in 2:1 (water:rice) proportion and stir and close the lid tightly and let it cook till done, forking in between for even cooking. Alternatively, transfer the contents to a electric rice cooker and cook till done.