This is a classic rice dish from India, inspired by the Moghul cuisine. Originally, the dish came from Iran, where it was named pollou or pillau (from pollo, rice). This dish was taken to India, where it became pullao, or pulao, one of the most important rice dishes of the sub-continent. Westwards, this most famous Persian dish became the basis of pilav or pilaf in Turkey and Armenia, the pilafi dishes of Greece and the paellas of Spain. It’s even the origin of the famous Russian rice dish plov.
1 cup basmati rice
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 green cardamom pods, bruised
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1-3 tablespoons ghee
one 4 cm cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
1/3 cup slivered or sliced raw almonds, toasted
1/4 cup fresh or frozen peas, steamed
Heat and bring slowly to the boil the water, salt, and turmeric in a 2-litre/quart saucepan over moderate heat.
Heat the ghee or oil in another 2-litre/quart saucepan over moderately low heat. Fry the cinnamon stick, cloves, and bruised cardamom pods in the hot ghee until the spices are aromatic. Add the rice and saute for about 1 minute or until the grains turn whitish.
Pour in the boiling salted turmeric water, stir, increase the heat to high, and bring the water to a full boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and gently simmer, without stirring, for 15 – 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender and flaky.
Remove from the heat but keep covered for another 5 minutes to allow the rice to rest and firm up. Fold in the toasted nuts and peas. Serve hot.