If you think something with rice for a lunch , that too a one dish meal , it becomes challenging as you don't want a high carb meal lulling you to sleep after the meal. One pot rice meals are a great comfort food in my household on the other hand . Many khichdis and tahiris have been devised to include more and more vegetables and proteins . Rice meals need not be carbohydrate heavy , and can be optimized for a medium GI meal ( if not low GI ), more so if you use brown rice .
The first thing to do is chop as many vegetable as you like and as hungry you feel. I used a lot of cauliflowers , peas ,french beans, potatoes , cauliflower and broccoli stems and soy nuggets.
Also the specialty of this vegetable pulao is that the cooked vegetables are almost three times of the cooked rice . It is a light meal and a nice refreshing raita makes it even more healthy. I made a zucchini and onion raita with it , making the meal very low on fats.
cauliflower florets chopped in small pieces 2 cups
cauliflower and broccoli stems chopped in small pieces 2 cups
fresh green peas 2 cups
boiled ( or microwave cooked) soy nuggets 1.5 cup
french beans chopped very finely 1.5 cups
cubed potatoes 2 cups
cooked rice 2 cups ( cooked freshly or leftover)
ghee 1.5 tbsp
finely chopped ginger 2 tbsp
chopped green chillies as per taste
cumin seeds 4 tsp
crushed black peppers 4 tsp
4 pc. of cloves
2 pc. of green cardamom
1 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
This pulao is easy to assemble . Stove top cooking is minimal if you cook the rice in the microwave while stir frying the veggies on the gas stove. So while you cook the rice in the MW , heat the ghee in the kadai and start assembling the vegetables for the pulao.
Throw in the cumin seeds first , the whole spices just a few seconds later and then the chopped ginger and the crushed black pepper. Add the potatoes almost immediately after this , as the whole spices are prone to getting charred.
the potatoes are cooked along with a bit of salt so that they get seared as well as take some salt into them , no need to cook them for long if you cut very small pieces of potatoes. Arvind likes big pieces of potatoes in any pulao or tahiri , even i have started liking them this way....they need to be 3/4 done before adding the other vegetables. Add the turmeric powder , mix well .
The beans and the stems of cauliflowers n broccoli go into the cooking mix, after the potatoes are 3/4 done , along with the green peas and the soy nuggets. Peas can be added earlier if they are not tender. Toss the vegetables to sear and let them get glossy , low flame is a must have as there is less ghee being used.
Lastly the cauliflower florets , i like a bit of crunch in them so i add them in the last , some more cooking will be required if you want them mushy. but that is not a good idea as the texture is just great this way . Also , i find the aroma of overcooked cauliflowers a bit offensive. So if you are using cauliflowers for a pulao or tahiri , go by this method.
As the vegetables turn glossy and half done ( the potatoes almost done), pour the cooked rice above them , mix lightly , cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Let it be covered for a while before serving. The time can be used for making a raita to go with the pulao/tahiri ...
The raita i served here is zuchini and onion raita , zucchini can be replaced with cucumbers as we don't get zuchini all year round . I get organic zucchini from a nearby place so i like using it fresh and raw whenever possible.
I like the soy nuggets in such a pulao or tahiri . They soak up the flavors very nicely while all the other vegetables retain some of the bite and their individual flavor. This recipe does not use any onion and garlic , so there is no hassle of peeling and chopping them finely , the flavor of the pulao is mildly spicy with freshness of vegetables.