Today I’m all ‘back to the root’ with some basic ‘carb’. After spending hell lot of days with dieting and running, now I need some energy to recharge by battery just before Durga Puja. I need to bring back the taste-buds alive before I hit the food stalls at puja pandals. So I’m starting my ‘reverse fasting’ with Bengali Holud Mishti Pulao or Sweet Saffron Polau.
Mishti Pulao is a very popular dish in western India and Bangladesh. It’s a mandatory dish for any any Bengali Wedding, birthdays, anniversaries or any ceremony. Even a get together of few friends or a family picnic needs a potful of Mishti Polau and Kosha Mangsho(Mutton) or Chicken Kosha! In many places this pilaf is served as ‘Bhog’ instead of khichdi.
Bengali Holud Mishti Pulao means yellow colored Sweet Pilaf in Bengali Style and the dish is just the literal meaning of it. Traditionally this extremely fragrant, mildly sweet pulao recipe requires generous amount of saffron to achieve the bright yellow color. But back then saffron wasn’t as expensive as it is today (or people were way richer than we are now!). So many people use turmeric (1-2 tsp) instead of saffron. It won’t give the aroma of saffron but it will definitely keep your wallet fat (at least we like something to be remained as fat!).
Then again many people use sweet peas in Sweet Pulao but I don’t use them; I reserve my stock of green peas only for Peas Pulao or may be Keema Matar. Anyways, the point is if you are into peas then go for it.
Whatever you use or replace in this Sweet Pulao recipe you never dare to alter the core ingredients, clarified butter or ‘ghee’ and the rice. An authentic recipe always call for clarified butter and Gobindo bhog rice is ideal match for Sweet Pulao to enhance the aroma and taste. But it’s not an easy job to find such a things if you are not living in Kolkata or West Bengal. So buy a packet of long grain basmati rice which is also perfect for the task in hand. Not only the rice looks better with the long grain but also easier to handle while cooking. And instead of clarified butter you can use colorless & odourless vegetable oil but don’t cry for the authentic taste then!
Enough of babbling about tradition and authenticity! Just go with the step by step Bengali Holud Mishti Pulao or Sweet Saffron Polau recipe and get yourself addicted!
Please read the tips and instructions carefully before you proceed with cooking.
All the measurements are mentioned here are measured in universal measuring cups & spoons.
Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking/Active Time: 20 mins
Resting/Inactive time: 00 mins.
Total Time: 30 mins.
Yield: 4 servings
To temper oil:
Clarified butter (ghee): 3 tbsp (See Tips)
Bay leaf: 2, large
Ground green cardamom: 5-6
Ground black cardamom: 2-3
Cinnamon stick: 2 (1” long)
Cloves: 1 tsp or 7-8
Mace: 1, whole
Saffron: 3-4 strands
Ginger, grated: 1 tsp
Gobindo bhog or long grain basmati rice: 1 cup (See Tips)
Cashew: 12-16 or on personal preference
Raisin: ¼ cup or on personal preference
Pistachio: 12-16 or on personal preference
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Salt: 2 tsp
Ground nutmeg: ¼ tsp
Saffron: 1 pinch or turmeric powder: 1-2 tsp (See Tips)
Peas: on personal preference (See Tips)
Water: 2 cups + ¼ cup, if needed
Large heavy bottomed pan
Small saucepan (to boil water),
Clean and wash the rice 5-6 times in a large bowl under running water and keep the rice soaked in water for 10 mins. (preferable 30 mins). The soaking process will help the rice to grow longer and give a fuller look.
Take the clarified butter in a large heavy bottomed pan and heat until clarified butter melts completely. Add the spices under ‘to temper oil’ and allow them to sizzle. Now, add the dry fruits and fry them until they turn into golden brown color. (See Tips)
Next add the rice and fry for 1-2 mins (max) on medium heat. (See Tips)
If you are using sweet peas and turmeric, now it’s time to add both into the pan.
In the mean while boil the water in a separate small saucepan and keep it hot. (See Tips)
Once rice is fragrant add the hot water into rice and bring it to boil. Add sugar, salt, saffron strands one by one and cook the rice on medium-high flame for 8-10 mins (depending on the quality and amount of the rice) or until rice is almost cooked. Once done, switch off the flame and sprinkle the ground nutmeg on top and stir gently. Now leave the pan covered for another 10 mins. (See Tips)
Voila! Our beloved Bengali Holud Mishti Pulao or Sweet Saffron Polau is all decked up to be served immediately. This Pulao tastes best with Kosha Mangsho/Mutton (recipe coming soon) or Chicken Kosha. But if you are looking for pure veg meal options then pair this Sweet Polau with Bengali Style Jhiri Jhiri Alu Bhaja, Bengali Veg Alur Dom, Alu er Chenchki and complete your meal.
Always serve the pulao hot and right after cooking. Store the excess pulao in air tight container and refrigerate up to 3-5 days; just warm it up or microwave it for few mins before serving.
1. Traditionally clarified butter is used for this particular recipe to enhance the aroma and taste of the rice. But if clarified butter is unavailable to you don’t be sad and use any vegetable oil except fancy fruity ones.
2. Traditionally Gobindo bhog is ideal match for Sweet Pulao but it’s not an easy job to find such a thing if you are not living in Kolkata or West Bengal. So buy a packet of long grain basmati rice which is also perfect for the task. Not only the rice looks better with the long grain but also easier to handle while cooking.
3. In authentic sweet pulao recipe generous amount of saffron is used to achieve the bright yellow colored rice but back then saffron wasn’t as expensive as it is today. So many people use turmeric (1-2 tsp) instead of saffron. It won’t give the aroma of saffron but it will definitely keep your wallet fat.
4. Many people use sweet peas in Sweet Pulao but I don’t use them. So if you are into peas then go for it.
5. I personally don’t prefer the fried oil drenched dry fruits at all. So I skip the fry part and dry roast them on a tava or flat pan for few minutes and then add them straight into the rice.
6. Don’t fry the rice for longer time. It will turn the rice grains hard like shell.
7. Adding the hot water into the rice will keep the temperature intact. Otherwise a sudden drop in temperature due to regular (room temperature) water will cause uneven cooked rice.
8. It is always better to stop cooking the rice while it is almost done but keep it covered in the same pan for few minutes. This will make sure that rice is cooked perfectly on time with the heat within it; not overcooked and starchy at all.
Eat, Love, Enjoy and Repeat!