Chef-ly reputations!

“Looks a bit dry, doesn’t it? Let’s add more water” and in goes another cup – my aunt to her cook.

A few minutes later, the cook checks the pot once more and decides that it really isn’t looking as though it’s cooked – “methukulu, methukulugaa undamma” (it looks like the rice grains are uncooked) and adds in his share of two more cups of water. 

This goes on for a while – till they have a greenish mess which definitely looks cooked – very, very cooked!! My uncle has invited some guests over for dinner – his new bride – my aunt – is supposed to be a super cook and he’s been raving about her food at the factory! My aunt, rising to the challenge, has decided that she will attempt something she’s not made before – pulao! Unfortunately, neither she nor the cook has the faintest clue about how much water to cook the pulao rice in and as the grains are long and look “uncooked” – the resultant gooey green mess! 

After a few seconds of dismay, my aunt proves her mettle ! She rolls up her sleeves, mashes up the pulao even more till it’s not recognisable as a rice dish, adds some spices and boiled potatoes, whips up a batter and proceeds to make the most delicious “pulao bondas” ever!! Many  “wah-re-wahs” follow and her reputation stays intact!

This same aunt – Kalyani pinni – has been responsible for teaching me a whole load of unfamiliar traditional dishes and to rarely give up on a dish that’s “flopped”! Only once have i actually had to throw out a dish but that’s another story! Here’s a fail-safe pulao – even for NRI students who might otherwise have to resort to “pulao bondas”!

Easy corn pulao

  • Basmati rice – 1.5 cups – washed and soaked in 3 cups water for 15 minutes
  • Frozen corn – 1 cup
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Onion – sliced – 1 large
  • Cloves – 4
  • Cinnamon – 1″ stick
  • Cardamom – 2
  • Black cardamom – 1
  • Jeera – cumin – 1/2 tsp
  • Peppercorns – 8-9
  • Ghee – 2 tbsp
  • Turmeric – 1 large pinch
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Biryani ke phool (kalpasi/stone flower) – 1/2 tsp

Heat the ghee in a pan. Add all the spices together and fry for a few seconds. Add the onions and fry stirring constantly till golden brown. Add the corn and rice with the water and the salt.Cover and cook till the rice is done – 7-8 minutes. Plain yogurt or raitha as an accompaniment is great. If you’re feeling particularly energetic, make a curry! This is a favourite weeknight dinner at home – easy and quick and exotic – like “outside food”!