Basanti Pulao for all Bengali Festivities
Bengalis love Rice and they love festive cooking. And what other recipe could be better fitting for any festive occasion, than Bengali Sweet Pulao Recipe or Basanti Pulao. It is a sweet and fragrant dish which simply plays on the aroma of the spices and the Basmati rice used in it.
History of Bengali Cuisine & Basanti Pulao
There are some interesting facts about Bengali Cuisine. It is the only traditionally developed multi-course menu spread which serves food course-wise rather than laying it out all together. It is something similar to the modern French cuisine structure which is also multi-course based.
Amidst Bengali Cuisine popular dishes, Basanti Pulao features prominently among the most preferred rice-based dishes. Pulao, having featured in ancient Dharma-related sacred texts of Hinduisim often was described as a rice based dish cooked with meat and other spices. Of late, its meatless versions came into being which utilized fragrant varieties of rice combined with selective spices to be served along with several kinds of main course dishes.
Bengali Basanti Pulao originally employed indigenous fragrant variety of rice like Gobindobhog. A native variety of rice belonging to certain regions of West Bengal, it is short-grained variety which is extremely fragrant and white and sticky. Being an original choice for the preparation of offerings to Lord Gobindo or an avatar of Krishna or Vishnu, gave its name Gobindobhog which consists of ‘Gobindo‘ and ‘Bhog‘ (offerings).
Recently in 2017, the Government of India allotted Geographical Indication (GI) tag to Gobindobhog Rice variety thus, strengthening the quality of the rice cultivated and supplied by the southern basin of the Damodar River valley
Basanti Pulao In Bengali Pujo Menus
Festive cooking demands a special menu. Since we have a lot to choose from, we have dedicated elaborate menus for each of the Bengali Festivals like Durga Pujo, Poila Boishak or Bengali New Year, Basanti Pujo, etc. Often they include elaborate recipes which would require widespread preparations by the entire family to serve out a wonderfully thought and executed meal.
Though such elaborate traditional meals sound interesting, we can always save some trouble by choosing a simple yet delicious rice based dish which would go wonderfully well with the rich gravy based dishes. Consider this as a bane of the busier city life, our traditional Bengali festive meals have largely shrunk into 2-3 course meals including simple & quick Bengali cooking recipes.
I often plan my weekend special menus using recipes from my blog. For instance, I have myself paired Basanti Pulao recipe with Spicy Bengali Chicken Curry Recipe, as well as Chicken Rezala. On one such occasion, my menu included this along with Spicy Honey Chilli Chicken Recipe, as you can see over here. It was applauded and loved by everybody who came over our place and had lunch with us. It can also be wonderfully served with Bengali Kosha Mangsho for a leisurely Sunday lunch meal with family.
This is a Gluten-Free recipe, so all those who are allergic to Gluten can easily make and enjoy this dish. Gluten is a protein which often leads to discomfort as many fail to digest. They may suffer symptoms like diarrhea, rashes and severe abdominal pain. Generally, wheat, barley and rye has gluten in it which should be completely avoided if you are gluten sensitive.
This can be a Vegan recipe, if you replace the Ghee or Clarified Butter with flavorless white oil. That is to say, use sunflower oil or rice bran oil.
- 1/2 cup Basmati Rice
- 1 cup Water Tepid or Lukewarm
- 4 tbsp Ghee or Clarified Butter
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 Black Cardamom
- 4 Green Cardamom
- 1 inch Cinnamon Stick
- 5-6 Cloves
- 1/3 cup Mixed Dried Fruits Chopped Almonds, Cashew, Walnuts
- 1/3 cup Raisins
- 1 tsp Garam Masala Powder
- Salt To Taste
- A pinch of Saffron soaked in 2 tbsp Warm Milk
- 1 tbsp Sugar
Heat the ghee in a pan and fry the chopped nut in it till light golden in color. Once done take them out and keep aside.
Now, add the Bay Leaves and whole spices and stir for a minute till they release their aroma.
Now, add the washed and drained rice in it. Fry it till they become crisp.
Now, add back the fried nuts and sugar. Season with salt as per taste.
Add the water, garam masala powder and milk soaked saffron strands. Give it a stir and let it simmer for 8-10 minutes with lid on.
Once you see the water has been absorbed completely, remove the lid. Take a pair of chopsticks and give the rice a gentle stir from the bottom. Add the raisins. Turn off the heat.
Let it sit for a while just like that, maybe for 10-15 minutes. Then serve.