‘Basanti Pulao’ is a traditional Bengali rice dish. This is also referred as ‘Holud Mishti Pulao’ (Yellow Sweet Pilaf), as both ‘Holud’ and ‘Basanti’ stands for the color yellow. So if I need to translate ‘Basanti Pulao’ I would prefer to say yellow-colored, fragrant, mildly sweet signature Bengali rice dish!
Like other traditional Bengali dishes I learnt this too from my mother. This ‘pulao’ needs some special ingredients, first the rice, it has to be Gobindobhog (a fragrant rice cultivated in West Bengal (India), and Bangladesh, and saffron for the unique flavor. But it is difficult to get Gobindobhog Rice outside West Bengal; you can try with Basmati rice too. Another important ingredient for making this ‘pulao’ is ‘ghee’ or clarified butter. When the dry fruits and rice been fried in ‘ghee’ and later cooked, the beautiful aroma of ‘ghee’ fills our home. Saffron is very expensive so, now a days I use saffron colour available in the grocery stores with saffron.
- Take the rice and wash under the cold water thoroughly. Let it soak for 30 minutes then strain the excess water completely.
- Now spread the rice on a large plate or serving tray and let the rice to dry completely, it will take 15-20 minutes. After 15-20 minutes add saffron colour and salt to the dried rice and mix with rice gently. Remember the washed rice is very fragile right now. Leave the marinated rice for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes take a kadai or wok and heat 2 Tbsp of oil in it. When the oil is perfectly hot add the raisins & cashew nuts and fry them till golden brown. Take the fried nuts & raisins out of the wok and keep aside.
- No in the same oil add ghee. Then add bay leaf and green cardamom, cinnamon and clove for tempering. Add the marinated rice to the wok and fry for 5 minutes.
- Now add 4 cups of warm water and saffron, simmer the heat, cover the wok with a lid and let it cook till the rice is cooked perfectly. It will take at least 15 minutes.
- When the rice is cooked perfectly, open the lid, if you wish you may add 1 Tbsp of ghee more now to enrich the pulao and mix in the fried cashew and raisins.
- Add sugar and nutmeg powder and stand the pulao for 10 minutes with the lid on.
- Serve with Mangser Jhol or Chicken Rezala or any other chicken, mutton or fish dishes of your choice.