Making Some Pulao? Try These 8 Simple Kitchen Tips To Nail It
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A well-made pulao can be a great centrepiece for a traditional Indian meal, especially a feast. Though packed with flavour and a variety of ingredients, a pulao is always easier to make in a jiffy compared to other festive rice dishes like biryanis. Whether you make one with just a few dry fruits and nuts like a Bengali pulao, or make one with mutton like a Yakhni pulao, or even try one with soy chunks and veggies for a vegan feast, a pulao can easily turn the simplest of meals into a festive, celebratory affair. 

And yet, when it comes to cooking a good pulao, many people make little mistakes that can result in mushy pulaos or those lacking in flavour. Yes, a pulao is always easiest to make, but there are still plenty of pressure points that one needs to note to get the dish right every time. From choosing the right rice to knowing the correct liquid-to-rice ratio, from cooking the veggies properly to adding the right aromats, there are plenty of things that can go wrong and lead to a pulao that isn’t exploring its full potential. 

So, what can you possibly do to make sure the pulao you make is perfect every single time? Try these tips of course! Here are eight simple and easy-to-follow tips to nail a pulao every single time for a quick feast. 

Video Credit: YouTube/Bong Eats

1. Choose The Right Rice 

Basmati rice is the go-to choice for pulao due to its long grains, pleasant aroma, and ability to stay separate when cooked. However, it is important to note that there are plenty of other rice varieties that also make for vibrant pulaos. For example, Gobindobhog rice may be short-grained, but it is aromatic enough to make for great pulaos. On the other hand, black rice from Tamil Nadu or Manipur also make for stunning pulaos. Many people also choose brown rice for health reasons.  

2. Rinse, Soak And Saute The Rice 

Most rice varieties are starchy, so unless you rinse the rice properly, it is highly likely that you will end up with sticky rice instead of fluffy pulao. The second thing to note here is that soaking the rice is essential to ensure long grains and proper cooking, so soak your rinsed rice for at half an hour. Further, always saute the rice in some ghee with the aromats during the cooking process to ensure the rice absorbs more flavours. 

3. Saute The Spices 

While cooking any pulao, make sure you use good quality whole spices for the tempering. Cumin seeds, cardamom pods (both green and black), cloves and cinnamon sticks make for great aromatic additions, but make sure you saute them properly in ghee to release their aroma and flavour. If you are using powdered spices also, saute them as well. 

4. Cook The Veggies Right 

A good pulao is all about the right water to grain ratio, which is why you have to be careful about cooking the vegetables right. Most vegetables release water during the cooking process, so cook them out properly before adding the rice and water. If you are using onions, make sure they are properly fried and browned to ensure they don’t turn gluggy. 

5. Proper Liquid-to-Rice Ratio 

The ratio of liquid to rice is crucial for achieving the right texture for a pulao. A common guideline is to use 1.5 to 2 cups of liquid for every cup of rice, but this can vary based on your preference and the type of rice you're using. For example, black rice might need more water to cook. So, check the specifications before you begin and get the proportions right. 

6. Use A Flavorful Broth 

Most people end up using plain water to make pulaos at home, and while that may be convenient, a pulao made this way might lack flavour. Enhance the taste of your pulao by using vegetable or chicken broth—you can even use commercially available stock cubes if making some at home is too much of a time-taking hassle. This simple change will, however, ensure that your pulao is outstanding. 

7. Don’t Over-Stir 

Saute the veggies, rice and even any proteins like chicken or mutton if you like. But once you add the liquid, whether it is water or broth, avoid stirring too much. This can not only make the rice grains break, but also result in a mushy pulao. So, once you add the liquid, stir once or twice then let the pulao cook until done, undisturbed. 

8. Fluff With A Fork  

After the rice has absorbed the liquid and is cooked, turn off the heat and let it rest for a few minutes at least. You will observe that any veggies or meat you added has floated up to the top, so you will indeed need to mix the pulao. However, don’t use a ladle or spatula to do this as this can make the rice grains break. Use a fork and carefully fluff up the pulao before serving.