Indian Fried Rice for the Beginner

I wrote this post a few months ago but never published it.

Here goes…

Fried rice or Pulao has always been one of my favourite Indian dishes. I love it even more now, ever since I started cooking for myself. It has loads of vegetables, is very filling and is a one-pot meal! I don’t have to bother making a side accompaniment for this – it tastes pretty good on its own. Which translates to lesser work for me in the kitchen. 🙂

There are many ways to make this dish – this is the version I know how to make best, so that’s what I am going to describe to you!

Makes enough for 4 hungry people and takes about an hour.

Things you’ll need:

  • 3 large onions
  • 3 large capsicums
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 handfuls of beans
  • 2 cupfuls of frozen green peas
  • 3 cups of rice
  • Cooking oil
  • Bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods – for some aroma

For the Vegetables:

Jullienne all the vegetables.

Heat some oil in a large wok and add the bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon and cardomom. Mix them around so that they are coated in the oil. While adding the bay leaves, make sure to remove the stem of the leaf so that it doesn’t cause the eater to choke on their food. And  the cardamom pod can be added whole, without removing the outer skin. The flame should be lowered to a “sim” now, to prevent the oil from burning.

Add the chopped onions to the pan now and saute until they are soft. Beans and carrots go in next, as they take very long to cook. Give the contents a good mix and add a cup of water to help the beans and carrots cook. Cover the pan with a lid and check on it every 3 mins. The beans and carrots take around 10-12 mins to start getting done, i.e. lose their toughness. The flame can be kept a little higher during this process to help speed up things. Now, add the capsicums and saute a little. Capsicums get done quite quickly, and its important to stay alert during this time to avoid the capsicums from over cooking and becoming soft. I like to add the seasoning about 2 minutes after the capsicum has gone into the pan – the capsicum has enough time to cook when the seasoning is being done.  In case you still have water inside the pan, don’t worry – the rice will absorb it.

For seasoning:

Add salt, chilli powder, garam masala and biryani masala to the pan. I like to make the vegetables really spicy, since they become very mellow when mixed with the rice. Mix everything around (but be careful to not squash) until the masala coats the veggies evenly.

For the rice:

Basmati rice tastes best for this dish. If that’s unavailable or too expensive, normal rice can also be used. Cook 3 cups of rice in around 5 cups of water (5.5 if Basmati) until its almost fully cooked. The problem with using normal rice is that it tends to clump up and get rather smashed – which is not great for a dish like this where we’d like to have each grain of rice separate from the others. So to help prevent this, spread out the cooked rice onto a large plate and cool under the fan for a few minutes.

Transfer the cooled rice to the wok with the veggies and mix everything together. Be careful to to not smash the rice or the veggies as you mix! Keep a low flame while doing this.

Your fried rice is now ready! Transfer to a pretty bowl and serve with some Raita (optional).

For Raita:

You will need a tub of yoghurt (500 ml), finely chopped onions (1 medium size) and finely chopped green chilli (1). You can also add some chopped cucumbers if you have some at home.

Add the chilli, onions and some water to the yoghurt. The consistency should be that of thick milk. Add salt, Chaat masala to the mix and serve chilled.

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