Mint is a fragrant herb that is generally used in limited quantities because it has an overpowering flavour. But in this dish, mint is the hero. It dominates the taste of the dish.
The dish is made with two methods. The first involves making the dish from scratch where you cook the rice specifically for making this dish. This gives you a little more control if you want to infuse flavours into the rice while cooking it. The other way to make the dish is from leftover rice where you do a quick mix to convert the rice into pulao. Both of these taste good but the former tastes better as it gives you more control over the end output of flavours and texture in the dish. This actually becomes the difference between Pudina rice and Pudina pulao. Pudina rice is your tawa pulao style rice where you use pre-cooked rice while Pudina pulao involves making the dish from scratch.
Mint pulao is a great winter dish. That’s because mint has a cooling effect and helps relieve sore throat. It is also a great aid for an upset stomach caused by indigestion. Let’s start with the mint rice recipe below.
- Rice 2 cups ( Kolam )
- Water 3 to 4 cups
- Cloves 4
- Black peppercorns 4
- Bay leaf 1
- Cinnamon stick ½ inch
- Small onion 1
- Oil 2 tablespoons
- Salt to taste
- Cashewnuts 10 ( To garnish - fried)
- Mint leaves ½ cup
- Green coriander leaves ½ cup
- Onion 2 tablespoon (chopped)
- Coconut 1 tablespoon (grated)
- Garlic pods 5
- Ginger ½ inch
- Green chilli 1
Wash and soak the rice for 1 hour.
Slice the onion and keep aside. Wash the mint and coriander leaves well in running water.
To make masala paste, grind together the garlic, ginger, green chilli, coconut powder, chopped onion, mint leaves and the coriander leaves.
Do not add water while grinding. The paste should be made fresh as it changes colour on keeping for long.
Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Add the whole spices like the cinnamon stick, cloves, black peppercorns and bay leaf.
When a pleasant aroma emanates from these spices, add the sliced onion. Let it cook till light golden brown.
At this point, add the mint paste. Stir fry constantly otherwise it will stick to the base and burn.
In about 5 minutes, the paste will look well-fried. Drain the rice and add it to the fried masala mixture. Season with slat.
Mix everything well so that the rice grains get coated with the masala mixture.
Add the water and put on the cooker lid. Increase the flame to high and let cook till 3 whistles.
Lower the flame and let cook for 1 more whistle. Adjust cooking time as per the variety etc of rice used.
When the pressure releases on its own, open the lid. Gently fluff up the rice with a fork.
Garnish with fried Cashewnuts and serve hot.
If you are making the dish from scratch, here are a few points you need to keep in mind. The right amount of time to soak the rice before cooking is an average 30 mins. If you soak it longer, the rice may become mushy while cooking. If you soak it for a shorter time or don’t soak it at all, the rice will take longer to cook.
There are two vegetables that complement a pudina pulao well – corn and green peas. Both give a visual delight and good crunch to break the soft taste of the rice.
There are quite a few varieties of mint which may give a slight twist to your flavours if you try them. Apple mint and ginger mint are two such varieties that can add a distinct taste to your dish. Depending on where you live, these might not be easily available. The most commonly known ‘pudina’ in the Indian market is the Peppermint which is a hybrid watermint and spearmint. (Mint varieties, if grown in close proximity tend to cross pollinate and create a new variety of mint. This is interesting as as far as tastes go but the original mint tends to lose its integrity).