Friday, October 2, 2015

Chingri Pulao / Prawn Pulao / Prawn Pilaf

Plain rice is good for curries and fries but they are too bland to go on every day. Sometimes you need something more....something flavourful...not gloatingly rich but yet aromatic and spicy in its own way with a subtle hint of playfulness. That’s when I seek for pulao. Or pilaf....as you wish to call it. And when prawns and pulao add up, a new deliciousness is born named "Chingri Pulao" / "Chingri Polao".

how to cook prawn pilaf recipe

simple prawn pulao recipe

Aromatic and spiced with whole spices, this dish is a must in every Bengali occasion. To make pulao it is very necessary to make a fluffy rice, because unlike making “bhat”, i.e.cooked rice, we do not drain the starch from it. It is cooked with all the other veggies or dry fruits and therefore you need to add just the right amount of water so that the final outcome does not become soggy. Most of the time, if you are a beginner and do not know the exact amount of water to make a fluffy non-sticky rice, its better to use a shortcut. Just cook the rice separately and when you are done with the spices, and veggies or dry fruits, slowly add the rice to them in small batches mixing carefully and evenly. Trust me...its very hard to tell the difference.

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Fry the onions.

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Add ginger and garlic.

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Add the prawns.

how to cook chingri polao with step by step pictures
Cook till prawns are lightly coloured.

Also, another thing that I learnt from making pilaf / pulao is that, always use desi ghee for making pulao. Because this will ensure that the rice grains do not stick to each other and therefore you will have perfect fluffy and flavourful rice. And in the worst case scenario is you end up with soggy rice, my advice will be to keep it open for some time and then put them in a baking tray spreading evenly. Bake them covered on high heat for 5-7 minutes, and in small batches. This also helps in evaporating the moisture a lot. I will not say that your dish is saved...but it will be far from being soggy and mashed.

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Add the whisked curd.

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Fish out the prawns and add the rice.

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Add water and saffron strands.

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When the rice is cooked, add the kept aside prawns, cashews and raisins.

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Bengali Pilaf / Bengali pulao is generally sweet but other salted and spicier version are now frequent and popular everywhere. Among them, this chingri pulao / chingri polao is a gem. It has prawns, it is pulao....I mean what more do you need?? I need nothing...I can eat this polao just as it is...

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Prawn Pulao / Prawn Pilaf / Rice Pilaf with Prawns
Serves 4-5

bengali chingri polao recipe

Ingredients:
1 and ½ cup of fine Basmati rice
250gm prawns – de-veined and cleaned
2 medium onions – sliced
4-5 cloves of garlic – minced
1 inch stick of ginger – chopped
2 green chillies – partly slitted
½ cup thick curd – whisked
1 tsp garam masala powder
¼ tsp nutmeg powder
¼ tsp mace powder
2 tsp rose water
1 tsp kewra / screw pine water
1 medium cinnamon stick
3-4 green cardamoms
3-4 cloves
2 medium bay leaves
A handful of cashews
A handful of raisins
10-12 threads of saffron (optional)
1 tbsp warm milk (to dilute the saffron)
1 tsp turmeric powder (if not using saffron)
Salt
2-3 tbsp ghee

Method:
Wash the rice till clean water runs and then soak them in water for 30-45 minutes.
Heat ghee in a dechki / heavy bottomed dutch oven and add in the cinnamon stick, green cardamoms, cloves and bay leaves.
Sauté for half a minute or until the ghee becomes aromatic and then add the sliced onions.
Cook the onions till they start to become golden and then add the ginger – garlic paste.
Sauté till the raw flavour of the garlic is gone and add the prawns.
Sprinkle some salt and the turmeric powder (if you are not using saffron).
Cook the prawns for 2-3 minutes and add the whisked curd.
Mix and cook the curd on low flame till the curd incorporates with everything and creates smooth gravy and the gravy starts to release oil. This will take around 3-5 minutes approximately.
Check the prawns if they are cooked and pick them out and keep aside, because cooking the prawns for a long time will make them hard and it completely ruins the taste.
Drain water from the soaked rice and add the rice to the cooking gravy.
Mix in and add 1 and ½ cup of water, rose water and kewra / screw pine water to them.
Add some salt, mace powder, nutmeg powder, slitted green chillies and garam masala powder to season the rice.
Sprinkle half of the saffron strands if you are using them and put cover.
Cook the rice for 10-15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through.
While the rice is cooking add the rest of the saffron threads to the warm milk and let them rest. The milk will be coloured soon.
Once the rice is cooked through, put off the flame, open the cover and add the cooked prawns to them. Also add the cashew nuts, raisins and drizzle the saffron diluted milk. Softly mix them with the rice, carefully not breaking and messing the rice. Then put cover.
Let them stay like this for some time to ward off the excess moisture from the rice.
Serve hot with any side dish of your choice.

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