What do you do when you’ve worked all day or in my case; chauffeured children, laundry, groceries, soccer practice, and you stumble home with not a clue as to what’s for dinner? Believe it or not, even on days that I’ve been to the grocery store, sometimes I have no clue what I am making for dinner that evening.
On days, when I am almost out of everything, it is even harder! What is your plan on days like these? Everyone has store cupboard staples, in my case, I always have rice, lentils, onions and garlic ginger paste! It’s an Indian store cupboard What are the must-haves in your pantry? And how about when supplies are running low? What do you all turn to (apart from takeaway)?
My meals in a hurry, or on days that I need some comfort food, I always find myself turning to something with rice. It’s my comfort food because growing up, I ate it almost everyday.
I wasn’t going to post this recipe because it happened to be one of those last minute, I am “out of everything” meals. It was thought of at the last minute after returning home exhausted and kids whining for dinner.
However, as I was devouring my plate, I realised how good it was and how easily it came together. I thought it might be worth sharing because it is essentially a one pot meal and one that’s open to much improvisation.
In Indian cookery, there are a lot of specific, traditional dishes, including many pullaos. However, pullaos are great for improvising. You can throw in just about anything, add rice, spices and meat or vegetable stock and you have a tasty pullao unique to you.
So, I thought I would share mine to inspire others to create their own. My pullaos are different every time! It really always depends on what I have in the fridge, freezer and pantry. Last week, it was zucchini squash, potatoes and a bit of left over chicken.
Chicken and Vegetable Pullao
2 1/2 cups rice, washed and soaked for 10 minutes
1/2 cup red lentils, washed and soaked with rice
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
2 large zucchini, small cubes
2 large potatoes, small cubes, parboiled or fried
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded or chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
handful of mint or cilantro, or both
6 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper to taste (takes about 2 teaspoons salt to season 3 cups rice)
In a big pot on medium high heat, brown the onions.
Once the onions are caramelised, add the zucchini cubes and fry.
Brown the zucchini cubes a little too.
Add the garlic and ginger, cook a little.
Add the cumin, coriander, red chilli powder and turmeric.
Fry the spices a little.
Add the washed and drained rice and lentils and coat with the oil and spices.
Once the rice and lentils are coated nicely with the spices and oil, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, turn the heat to medium and simmer until most of the broth has been absorbed.
Do not boil till totally dry, there should be about 1/2 inch of liquid still in the pot above the rice.
Add the fried or parboiled potatoes and the shredded chicken.
Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook on low, for 10 minutes.
Put on a timer.
After 10 minutes on low heat, turn off the burner and remove pot from heat.
Without opening, steam for another 10 minutes. Set a timer.
After 10 minutes, remove lid and fluff rice and lentils with a fork and mix in the vegetables.
The ingredients are all open to change, the type and quantity. I like to boil or fry my potatoes before hand otherwise they tend to make the rice too gummy. You can use any meat, I had a leftover cooked chicken breast and so I shredded that into the pullao. In a pullao with stuff in it, I usually use double the liquid to rice ratio. The other vegetables in the pullao will absorb a little of the liquid and you want to ensure there is enough to cook the rice and lentils. However, after the simmering of the rice and lentils, they still look too under done, add a little more liquid. The grains should lengthen in size and look half way done when they are done simmering.
So, that is my Chicken and Vegetable Pullao with leftover bits and bobs. However, those bits and bobs made a terrific, comforting meal that hit the spot. You don’t need fancy ingredients for a pullao; use what you have.
That is my last minute creation made up of a bit of this and that, what do you all make in a hurry? Do you look for convenience or comfort? When I am tired beyond belief and don’t want to be in the kitchen cooking, I find that I want something comforting to eat and not just food because of the sake of food. A comforting meal helps me feel better. Is it the same for you guys? Lots of questions today! But I was thinking about that and wondering about all of you and how y’all handle a long and arduous day.
Hope you are all having a great week!