Friday kickstarts the weekend here in the GCC and I marched into the local hypermarket with my grocery list (you heard that right, I didn't say supermarket, in Dubai everything is massive and obviously we have the biggest and the best of everything filled with fresh produce that's imported from the world over). My eyes lit up like a kid in candyland the minute I spotted beautiful organic mushrooms from Holland. Oh the possibilities! I love mushrooms in everything, be it your humble omelette, risotto or even as exotic as Vegan Pho soup! While paying up at the checkout counter I scanned all possibilities in my mind.
Mushrooms are rich in the antioxidant called selenium. Antioxidants help protect the body from damaging free radicals that can cause conditions like heart disease and cancer. They also protect you against damage from ageing and boost your immune system. As I was driving home, I realised I was quite late and it was almost lunchtime and being the weekend, we like to eat our meals early and then head outdoors with the kids. I needed a one-pot-meal fix that would equally please hubby too, who really looks forward to our family weekend meals. They also protect you against damage from ageing and boost your immune system.
Mushroom Pulav was my best bet and sneaky mama that I am, I added some extra veggies. This is a pure vegetarian recipe and pairs well with the usual Indian accompaniments of Dal fry, raita, pickle and papad. A few days ago, my parents has sent me melt-in-the-mouth fresh paneer (my favourite gift from Mumbai) which they buy from the local milkshop, so I made my mom's tomato based curry with the paneer and it paired very well with the Mushroom Pulav. Hope you like my simplified version of this pulav, do give it a try and make sure you hashtag #saffronbowl when you post it on socials.
1 medium thinly sliced onion
2 green chillies
200 grams fresh mushrooms
1 medium sized carrot cubed small
3/4 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp. Himalayan pink salt
3 cups Basmati rice
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp finely crushed black pepper
4-5 cups water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp. Ghee (vegans can use margarine or dairy free butter)
5 cups hot water or vegetable stock
Whole Dry Spices
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 stick cinnamon
2 medium bay leaves
3 green cardamom
1 black cardamom
A handful of roasted almond flakes
20 pcs Whole roasted cashews (optional)
Firstly, wash the rice in plenty of water and let it soak in water for 20 minutes with 1 tsp vinegar added to the water. The vinegar gets the rice to look whiter and longer. While the rice is soaking, it's time to cut the mushrooms into bite sized pieces. Heat a large casserole in medium flame and add the vegetable oil and ghee together and once it's nice and hot, add the cumin and bay leaves. As the cumin splutters, add the remaining dry spices of cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Stir the whole spices for a minute and then add the onions, green chillies with a pinch of salt. The addition of salt reduces the chance of the onions burning. After the onions become translucent, add the hero ingredient- the mushrooms. Stir fry this for 5-10 minutes and then add the carrots and green peas and mix all the veggies well for 5 minutes along with 1 tsp salt and the crushed black pepper.
Once the veggies bring out a nice fragrance and look semi cooked, drain the Basmati rice and add this to the casserole and gently give it a good mix. Usually for each cup of rice you need double the quantity liquid. Sometimes this tends to overcook and I like to have perfect grains of rice for my Pulav. So for 3 cups I've added 5 cups of water/ stock. It really depends on the kind of rice you have. You can always add more water if needed later on, but the key is not to overcook the grains of rice.
Add salt to taste, you can do a taste test of the liquid and add salt accordingly. Once it starts to boil, reduce the flame, mix it once again and then cover this until the water is completely gone and the rice is cooked perfectly. This may take around 15-20 minutes or more depending on your rice grain quality. Turn off the flame and fluff up the rice gently before serving. Serve this delicious Mushroom Pulav garnished with crunchy roasted almond or whole roasted Cashews.
Tip- You can even garnish the cooked Pulav with fried raisins and freshly chopped coriander leaves for a festive feel along with the nuts. If you want a smaller quantity, the same works well with 2 cups of rice, but keep the liquid level to 3.5 cups.