This week we had some friends over for a potluck dinner and movie inspired by my friend’s hometown of Bangalore. I made Dal Vada, or Dal Pakora, a delicious recipe I encountered at a dinner party in Bangalore, and cilantro chutney. My friend made a delicious Veg Pulav recipe as well as a lovely dal dish made with Toor dahl. I loved the smoky dal she made (flavored with charred mustard seeds, yum!) but the Veg Pulav was my favorite. It reminded me of our travels in India, and of rice dishes with paneer I’d ordered from hotel room service. The flavor was wonderful too, and I wondered how the mint was infused through the dish. I thought maybe Archana had used dried mint, but it turned out the secret was frying fresh, ground mint and then distributing it throughout. Since rice is such a staple for many of us gluten-free cooks, I wanted to share the authentic flavors of this recipe with you, with the cook’s permission of course. Tired of having rice the same old way time after time? Try this, with or without some cheesy, firm paneer. It occurs to me that tofu might also be a good substitute for paneer- or you can just leave it out if allergies are an issue.
Archana’s Mint Veg Pulav with Optional Paneer
2 cups rice
1 tbsp. or less oil
one cinnamon stick
2-3 bay leaves
1.5 cups veggies (chopped onion, carrot, beans, corn, peas, whatever you like)
1/4 cup or more paneer, cubed (optional)
one bunch of mint leaves
2 green chilies
3 cups water
Rinse rice thoroughly and leave soaking in water. Heat oil in a pan on medium and add your cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon. Let them fry for a few seconds and then add your chopped veggies, starting with the onion and letting it cook a few minutes before adding the rest of the veggies and optional paneer.
Meanwhile add one bunch of mint leaves and 2 green chilies to a blender or food processor and blend it coarsely. Add to the pan with the veggies and fry until the raw mint smell fades.
Drain rice thoroughly and add to the pan with the mint and veggies. Salt to taste and add water.
If you have a rice cooker, at this point you can transfer to a rice cooker and run the cycle. If you don’t have a rice cooker, cover the pan and cook on medium for approximately 15 minutes. Remove lid and check for doneness, fluffing with a spoon. Serve and enjoy!
This fresh, tasty rice recipe took me back to our travels in India- love it! I didn’t have it with paneer this time but it would be a very yummy addition. For vegan or to accommodate dairy allergies, just leave it out.