If you plan a rice meal for lunch and that too a one dish meal, it becomes challenging as you don't want a high carb meal lulling you to sleep immediately 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 use a lot of cauliflowers, peas, carrots, beans, potatoes cauliflower and broccoli stems and soy nuggets or paneer cubes.
Also the specialty of this vegetable pulao is that the cooked vegetables are almost three times of the cooked rice in volume. It is a light meal and a nice refreshing raita makes it even more healthy. I make bathua raita or a simple cucumber onion raita or even zucchini raita with it, making the meal very low on fats too.
cauliflower florets chopped in small pieces 2 cups
cauliflower and broccoli stems chopped in small pieces 2 cups
fresh green peas 2 cups
boiled and squeezed soy nuggets 1.5 cup or cubed paneer100-120 gm
french beans chopped very finely 1 cup
cubed carrots 1 cup
cubed potatoes 1 cup
chopped fenugreek leaves or coriander leaves 1 cup
cooked rice 1.5 cups (cooked freshly or leftover)
ghee 1.5 tbsp
finely chopped ginger 2 tbsp
chopped green chilies 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. Cook the rice as you normally do. Meanwhile on the other burner, 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. The potatoes need to be 3/4 done before adding the other vegetables. Add the turmeric powder, mix well .
The beans and the stems of cauliflowers and broccoli go into the cooking mix, after the potatoes are 3/4 done, along with the green peas and the soy nuggets if using. 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.
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, add paneer cubes now if using mix lightly, cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Let it be covered for a while before serving. This time can be used for making a raita to go with the pulao/tahiri.
Bathua raita is really delicious and adds nutrition value in terms of minerals and vitamins apart from fiber. You can serve this tahiri with any raita you like and anything that is in season.
Using chopped fenugreek leaves, dill leaves or coriander leaves ensures there is enough flavour even if onion and garlic etc have not been used. You can add a few whole green chilies to get the mild flavour but avoiding heat at the same time.
You can always use some lime juice to balance the taste of the cooked tahiri.
Making tahiri is not much of a skill but a sense of combining flavours works wonders if you are putting together a bunch of seasonal vegetables. Most home cooks rely on a tahiri when they want a relaxed meal that doesn't make then toil in the kitchen too much.
Tahiri fits the bill even though it is full of vegetables and required proteins is so desired.