Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Mint/Pudina Pulao

Dear Foodies,
Pudina is one of the those herbs that I think take time to get to the favorites list. As a kid I was definitely not a fan. My mother would make a fabulous chutney with it or add it to rasam but I just could not get myself to appreciate its strong flavor. I think the only way to get some of the pudina into me was in my dad's sandwich, which is still the best sandwich ever. But over the last few years I've gradually been adding it to recipes, initially just a few leaves sneaked in which did not really exert their presence. But later my love for chaat forced to make large batches of pudina chutney to use in bhel puri & sandwiches. I have even driven 40 mins to the Indian store to stock up on pudina, the measly sprigs sold at the regular stores just don't cut it for me.

But all that ended when I started growing my own mint in my little patio garden. This is herb is a brown thumb gardener's best friend and that'll be me. In fact you will need that brown thumb to restrict it from taking over your entire garden or planter. Apart from imparting great flavor to drinks, curries and rice, pudina has numerous medicinal uses. Its used to relieve stomach aches, digestion issues, head aches, nasal congestion and many more. You can chew on the leaves to freshen your breath, steep them in water for a soothing tea, and the mint oil finds uses cosmetics. Our local Asian grocer sells a huge bunch of mint for less than a dollar. For me, its an essential ingredient in vegetable pulao, biryani's and chaat items. I always have a jar of this chutney stored in the fridge now, and you should too. But today its all about this amazing pulao where pudina is the star of the dish. When I have excess pudina on hand I make this fragrant pulao and it has quickly become a favorite with us. I surely have come a long way from my mint-hating days.
Pudina Pulao (Mint flavored Rice)
  • 2 cups - Basmati rice, uncooked
  • 1 cup - Mint leaves, packed
  • handful of Spinach leaves, lightly blanched
  • 1 Tbsp - Coconut, freshly grated (or frozen)
  • 2-3 nos - Green chillies (adjust to taste)
  • 1 sq" chunk - Ginger root
  • 2 nos - Garlic cloves
  • Whole spices - 1 tsp cumin seeds, 3 cloves, 2 green cardamom pods, 1 black cardamom, 1/2 star anise, 2 1" shards of cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp - Turmeric
  • 2 nos - Red Potatoes, cubed (~ 1 cup)
  • 1 Tbsp - Oil
  • Salt to taste
  1. Wash the rice in multiple changes of water until the water runs clear. Soak the grains in warm tap water for about 30mins while you get the rest of your ingredients ready.
  2. In a blender, toss in the mint leaves, blanched spinach, ginger, garlic, green chillies, coconut and blend to a slightly coarse paste using as little water as needed.
  3. In a wide saute pan, heat the oil on a medium flame and toast the whole spices. Add turmeric, cubed potatoes and saute for a few minutes until the potatoes nicely brown around the edges.
  4. Add the mint paste next and cook for a few minutes to cook out some of the raw garlic flavor (~ 2mins). Add drained rice and stir gently to coat all the grains with the mint paste, saute for 2-3 mins. 
  5. Transfer the contents of the pan to a electric cooker, add required amount of water and salt to taste. Cook until done and serve warm with a cool yogurt raita. 
Notes: I used spinach solely for the extra green color, they do not add any flavor so you can easily skip them if needed. The turmeric here helps retain the green color too.
- I was lazy when I made this last week and thats why you don't see any brown potatoes, but please don't skip that extra step, they taste great in the pulao.
- If cooking the rice on the stove top, start with a deep enough pan in step 3 while toasting the spices and continue cooking the rice in it. Basmati rice needs lesser water than the usual 1:2 (rice:water), specially when its been soaking for sometime. I went with a 1:1.5 which was enough to cook the potatoes too.
This is an absolutely fragrant dish, your kitchen will be filled with the heady aromas of mint and spices, eagerly  drawing everyone towards it. The whole spices add a depth to the rice without overpowering the beautiful herb that you've painfully harvested. The spices help elevate the herb to a whole new level and make your guests feel like they are enjoying an exotic biryani and not the humble pulao. We were really hungry when I made this last week and so I did not wait for the potatoes to brown. But the tender browned potatoes, infused with the mint & spices are a delight in the pulao, so don't skip that.

9 thoughts:

Prathibha said...

This is my kind of pulav..looks absolutely delicious..

Priti said...

I love anything with mint and this looks fab

notyet100 said...

rice looks so flavourful,..

Soumya Vineeth said...

Love the greenery, A healthy rice item!

Sharmilee! :) said...

I luv the green color in ur pudina rice, perfectly cooked..looks super yumm

Pavani said...

Yummy pulao. Growing up I couldn't stand the taste of pudina, but now I do like it's earthy taste. My fab. Would have to be mint chutney. Yummy.

Tina said...

Never tried this....So flavourful n aromatic rice....Perfect dear....

Priya said...

Prathibha, yes, an very easy one pot meal.

Priti, I am slowly getting there :)

notyet100, it sure was :)

Soumya, yup, healthy and flavorful

Sharmilee, I did not want add more mint than needed, so used spinach for extra color.

Pavani, same story with me too. I make the chutney and use it over a few weeks.

Tina, thank you

Ami's Vegetarian Delicacies said...

i'm glad i found ur blog, absolutely amazing recipes.

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