Sweet Pulao

When I was little I used to always look forward to the weddings in Mangalore simply because the food served was lavish and something different from the regular fare dished out at home. I think this was a couple of decades ago when people used to actually look forward to marriage parties & such simply because they either couldnt afford to make rich dishes at home or it wasnt common practice to cook meat during the week. Chicken was probably what most families used to cook on Sundays. Although the spread (during a wedding party) included the regular Pork, Mutton Biryani, Appams, Sheviyos etc, I specially looked out for the Sweet Pulao accompanied by the Plum Chutney. My mother used to prepare this combo on Birthdays & some special occasions at home which is why I love to make this once in a while & relish it (I can have it for breakfast, lunch & dinner)

Sweet Pulao

Prep time: 15-20 mins | Cooking time: 20 mins | Serves 4-6

You Need:
For the garnishing:
1. Prepare the onions for garnishing by heating ghee or oil in a wok or pan and frying the sliced onions till golden brown. Take care not to burn them. Use a slotted spoon to drain them and place them on an absorbent kitchen tissue. You may also deep fry the onions (see notes for the same.)
2. Fry the cashew nuts  till golden brown and remove. Repeat with the raisins but don't fry them too long, just until they puff up, then remove. See notes before proceeding to the next step.
3. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the salt and sugar to taste and keep it simmering and ready.
4. Add some more ghee if required, fry the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf  on a medium low heat and take care that they don't burn. When you get a nice aroma add the washed and drained rice & fry for about 1-2 minutes (or until the ladle begins to feels heavy - if you continue stirring beyond this point the rice will begin to break)
5. Add the freshly boiled water and check the taste. You should get a fine balance of sweet and salty. Adjust the sugar and salt quickly if required and then bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
7. When the mixture is boiling quickly cover the pan with an airtight lid or aluminium foil so that no steam can escape. Reduce the heat to a simmer (sim) and cook for 5 minutes (keep an alarm!)
8. Once 5 minutes are up, turn off the heat and let the pan sit undisturbed. Don't open the lid at all! Set the alarm for 15 minutes.
9. After 15 minutes, open the pan and gently fluff up the rice using a fork. Cover for half a minute.
10. Garnish with fried onions, raisins & cashew nuts & serve hot with plum chutney

1. For best results use long grain basmati rice. The older the rice, better the taste and less mushy it will be
2. Use only white granulated sugar for pure white pulao.
3. Take care not to burn the onions or raisins and cashewnuts if you are frying them before you fry the rice (assuming you are using a single pan for all jobs). Burning of ingredients imparts a dull/darkish colour to the ghee and will lead to pulao that is not white in colour. If the pan indeed has burnt ghee, transfer it to a bowl, wipe clean the pan with a kitchen tissue and proceed to fry the rice in fresh ghee.

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