Tarkari no Pulao (Parsi Vegetable Pulao)
by Farokh Talati
This is a delicious one-pot wonder, packed full of amazing flavours yet unfussy and simple to make. My version of a pulao is made exclusively with vegetables you may have at home in the freezer, but feel free to express yourself or, if needs be, empty the fridge – there are no hard-and-fast rules on which vegetables you can use. I also make versions of this pulao with chicken breast, meaty white fish and even prawns. Just cut the meat into small chunks (leave prawns whole in the shell, which add more flavour) and add them to the pan at the same time as the spices and rice.
- 4 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
- 1 whole star anise
- 4 cardamom pods, cracked
- 5 cloves
- 2.5 cm cassia bark or cinnamon stick
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger–garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 250g potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1cm chunks
- 1 carrot, unpeeled and roughly chopped
- 100g frozen or fresh peas 100g frozen or fresh green beans
- 100g frozen or fresh sweetcorn
- 4 small green chillies slit open
- 1½ cups basmati rice,washed
- 1 large overripe tomato, roughly diced
- 1 heaped teaspoon garam masala
- 1 heaped tablespoon dhansak masala
- a generous pinch of saffron
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3 teaspoons salt
- a handful of coriander,leaves picked and chopped
Heat the ghee or oil in a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients (bearing in mind the rice will triple in volume once cooked). Add the star anise, cardamom, cloves and cassia bark or cinnamon, and allow to fry in the oil for 1 minute, until fragrant.
Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, until it starts to turn light brown. Add the ginger–garlic paste and cook for a further 1 minute, stirring everything together so that it cooks evenly. Once the onions are golden, add the caraway seeds and cumin seeds and stir them through the onion for 1 minute.
Add the vegetables, chillies and rice and fry for a further 2 minutes, then add the tomato, garam masala, dhansak masala, saffron, turmeric and salt. Fry for a further 2 minutes.
Add 2¼ cups of water and stir everything together, pushing the rice under the water (the vegetables can poke above the water, but the rice needs to be submerged to cook properly). Increase the heat to high, bring the liquid to the boil, then place a tight-fitting lid on the pan to stop the steam escaping. Reduce the heat to medium–high and cook for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat again, to medium–low, and cook again for 5 minutes. Finally, reduce the heat again to the lowest setting and cook for a final 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, but leave the lid on the pan, allowing the rice to absorb the steam for 10 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked through. For the rice to cook perfectly, the lid must stay in place all through the cooking and resting period.
Remove the lid from the pan and take in all those wonderful aromas. Stir through the coriander and serve with spoonfuls of pickled turmeric, lemon wedges and thinly sliced red onion.
About Farokh Talati:
Farokh Talati is the head chef at St. John Bread & Wine, the classic nose-to-tail restaurant in London, England. Of Parsi descent, Talati has been hosting Pari supper clubs in Soho for many years and is the author of Parsi: From Persia to Bombay, which is a collection of classic and contemporary Parsi recipes. You can follow the chef at @123farokh on Instagram.