Sada pulao – Bengali pulao with cashews and raisins

It's amazing how something as simple as crispy fried onions, toasted cashew nuts and plump raisins can completely transform a dish – something this pulao recipe proves all too well. Serve with a creamy chicken korma for a fantastic weekend treat.

First published in 2019





Wash the basmati rice in several changes of cold running water until the water runs clear, then place in a bowl and soak for 2 hours in more fresh cold water. If you do not have time to soak the rice for 2 hours, then do soak it for as long as possible – I always see a difference in the length of grain of rice after I soak the rice. In addition to this, the grains are less likely to stick as they have absorbed water while soaking and therefore cook faster
When ready to cook, drain the soaked basmati rice and set aside. In a heavy-based pan that has a lid, heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee over a medium-high heat
When the ghee is hot, add the cardamom pods, cassia bark, cloves and bay leaf to the pan. After a few seconds, when the spices begin to sizzle and pop, using a slotted spoon, remove them from the pan to a plate and set aside
Using the same pan the spices were fried in, fry the cashew nuts and stir until lightly brown, then remove with a slotted spoon. Lower the heat and add the raisins (you need to be quick as you do not want them to burst; remove them the moment they start to swell up)
Finally add the onion to the pan and fry gently, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onion from the pan and place on a plate to drain. Spread the onions across the plate so they crisp as they cool
  • 1 small onion, approximately 100g unpeeled weight, sliced evenly into thin rings
Put the kettle on to boil. Add the soaked, drained basmati rice to the pan with the remainder of the ghee. Add the fried spices, bay leaf and half the caramelised onions. Stir for 1 minute to coat the rice in the ghee and spice mixture, then add the salt and cover the rice with 600ml boiling water from the kettle
Cook, uncovered, over a medium-high heat until the water has been almost absorbed by the rice (about 4 minutes)
Once most of the water has been absorbed, cover the pan with a lid, lower the heat and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Once the rice is cooked, add the fried cashew nuts and raisins and gently mix using a fork to lift and separate the grains
Cover again and leave for a further 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with the remaining browned onions and raisins
First published in 2019

Owner of Indian restaurant Darjeeling Express and star of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, Asma Khan is one of the UK's most prominent female chefs and an unstoppable force for social change in the food industry.

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