Have you ever tried making pulao that tastes bit sweeter than any other pulao? Yes, that's the Kashmiri Pulao with lots of fruits and dry fruits which makes this dish very unique. Fruits such as apple chunks, pineapple chunks, grapes, pomegranate, etc and dry fruits such as cashews, raisins, almonds can be added while making it. Kashmiri pulao goes well with paneer based gravies or simple raitas. Infact this is a satisfying meal in itself without any accompaniment too. Its an easy and quick recipe, which surely will be a hit menu at any potluck, party or picnics.
I prepared this fancy rice from the available ingredients at my place - pineapple chunks, dried cranberries, raisins and cashews, and so it may not be authentic Kashmiri Pulao. Paneer cubes were added directly to pulao to make it a complete meal instead of preparing any side dish [Ya sometimes the lazy me try to find out such shortcuts]
1 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup pineapple chunks
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup paneer cubes [ place them in warm water to make them soft]
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp ghee + 2 tsp for roasting dry fruits
1 tsp cumin seeds [You can also use shahjeera or caraway seeds]
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
1 inch cinnamon stick
5 -10 cashew nuts
Few strands of saffron , soaked in 2 tbsp of warm milk
2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped for garnish
Salt as per taste
Wash and soak rice for 30 minutes. Drain and keep it aside [Kindly follow the packet instructions before cooking the rice]. Roast halved cashews in 2 tsp of ghee until golden brown. Add raisins and dried cranberries and saute them until they plump up. Drain and keep them aside.
Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a pan. Add cumin seeds [or caraway seeds/ shahijeera]. Once the seeds crackle, add whole spices one by one and saute it on low medium flame till you get nice aroma. Add chopped green chilies and fry it for few seconds. Now add drained rice and saute it for 1-2 minutes on low flame. Next add enough water [as per packet instruction it was 1 cup of rice : 2.5 cups of water], 1 tbsp of saffron milk mixture, salt as per taste and cover it with lid. Allow it to cook till the rice is 90% done. Open the lid and gently stir in paneer cubes, pineapple chunks and 2 tbsp cranberries. Cover with lid and cook it for 5 minutes more on low flame. Switch off the flame, fluff it with fork and add remaining saffron milk mixture. Sprinkle roasted dry fruits and remaining cranberries. Garnish the pulao with finely chopped coriander leaves. Serve it hot as it is or with accompaniment of your choice. Here I served it with plain curds and shallots pickle.
Note: Additionally, you can garnish it with fried onions and mint leaves.