Mad Over Mumbai-Style Spicy Tawa Pulao? Tips To Make The Street Food At Home

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that one of the best components of ‘Mumbai Darshan’ is stopping over to enjoy the wide variety of street food the city has to offer. Whether it is the Chaat of Juhu Chowpatty, or the Vada Pav of Ashok Stall, Prabhadevi, the city of dreams is dotted with culinary marvels, versatile enough to tickle anyone’s fancy. In one of my trips to the city, I happened to have a good fortune of enjoying the Mumbai-style Tawa Pulao at one of the street food stalls. Pulao, for the unversed, is a kind of a rice dish that is cooked with vegetables and spices. Pulao is an Indianised version of Pilaf that arrived in India with the Islamic rulers of medieval India, from the middle-east. Especially in the Mughlai kitchens some say that the standard Pilaf underwent many changes. The Mughlai cooks loved fusing Persian and Indian elements, and today, we have so many kinds of Pulao in this country that it is hard to keep track of. But we are not complaining. Coming back to the Mumbai-style, fiery, hot and crisp pulao that has had my heart ever since I first tried it.  

While watching the man add heaps of butter and spices to the rice placed on his large-sized Tawa, I picked up a few tips and tricks to make the iconic Pulao at home. Read on to know.  

  1. Heat your tawa and add butter. The vendor added a whole bar of butter but you can moderate the quantity as per your liking, make sure you add butter on slightly hot tawa only and let the butter melt.  
  2. To the butter, add jeera, oil, finely chopped onions, capsicum and sautee well. Onions need not change colour completely, but should be partially cooked. 
  3. Then add chopped tomatoes, and mix it in. The key is to keep your spoon moving, the veggies should be very well-combined. The amount of veggie should also be uniform, for instance, if you have taken one cup of chopped onions, it is advisable to take one cup of chopped tomatoes too. 
  4. When the masala is nicely cooked and reduced, add some peas according to your liking. Keep mixing and stirring the veggies together. Finally, add salt as per taste and mix it again.  
  5. To this masala add diced potatoes, since the tomatoes have left water at this point, your masala would appear to be little red, and you do not need to use any edible colour for the ‘red’ colour you associate with tawa pulao.  
  6. Move the masalas to the edges of the tawa and make some space in the centre, throw in some more butter and oil here and let it melt. Next, add the powdered spices, red chilli powder, pav bhaji masala, dhaniya powder, and salt and mix it together with the butter in the centre. Add some chopped coriander and mix all the veggies and this butter masala together. 
  7. Then finally add cooked rice. Pick basmati rice as it is less starchy and sticky. Cook the rice, veggies and masala together. Mix everything very well, garnish with more dhaniya leaves and you are done.