Nav- Nine, Ratna- gemstones. That is what it means. nav ratna – nine gemstones. Except we are not cooking with gemstones here. But the nine important ingredients that come together in this recipe are nothing less than gem stones, that makes this dish rich aromatic and flavorful .
There was a time, when I was not web savvy, I used to jot down recipes the moment I heard it from some one or watched it on TV. I used to just grab a notebook lying on the coffee table and start quickly jotting down the recipe. The recipes would find spaces in those last pages of the book or in the corner of an already filled up page or sometimes I even used to rip a tiny bit of paper and used to cram it with words almost illegible.
It was the excitement of finding a new recipe or the fear that if I miss it at that moment I would never learn that recipe ever. Those days were fun when I wanted to learn to cook and was all ears when my friends or family talked about the dish.
Now times have changed so much that if I want to know about a recipe I know I will get it for sure, on the world-wide web. Well, most of the times.
This pulav is one such recipe which I found on the back pages of an old notebook when I was doing some closet cleaning. It was funny to see how I had almost squeezed the writing on the edge of the paper that I had to almost guess what those last ingredients are.
But don’t fear, now that I am quite a seasoned cook, I am confident about what I put in the dish and it is all safe.
Now, I am not exactly sure, to which place or culture this dish is indigenous to. I am guessing it is a Kashmiri cuisine. But please correct me if I am wrong about that.
Typically, this dish is rich with ghee, nuts like Pista, almonds and raisins for garnish. and also the dish is typically a combination of 9 fruits, vegetables and nuts. That is what makes it Navratna in a true sense.But I am forgoing all of that, reason simply being I did not have those ingredients on hand and also I don’t like mixing sweet and spice together.
Oh Bummer, eh?
Introducing the Nav-ratnas:
Fresh grated Coconut- 1 cup
Cashewnut- A handful soaked in water
Poppy seeds- 1 tbsp soaked in water along with cashews
Cinnamon 1 stick
Star anise -1
Cardamom pods- 2
Saffron- I generous pinch soaked in warm water/milk
Yogurt- 1 cup
2 cups of Basmati rice, cooked and cooled for the grains to separate.
1 red onion grated
1 tomato pureed
1 cup of parboiled mixed vegetables( Cauliflower, beans, carrots peas)
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste
For Grinding: Grind in to a smooth paste, coconut ,cashews and poppy seeds. ( the soaking of cashew and poppy seeds aids in smooth fine grinding)
In a thick bottomed pan, heat oil. To that add Cinnamon , cardamom, star anise, cloves and fry for about 30 seconds until flavors pop out.Add ginger-garlic paste and fry until raw smell is gone.
work on medium heat through out.
Next add grated onion and fry for about 2 minutes until the rawness goes away and onion paste separates from oil.
Next, add the tomato puree and fry for about a minute until the paste cooks and separate from oil.
Next add the ground coconut paste and mix well . Let it cook for about a minute.
Next, add the parboiled vegetables and mix well for about a minute.
Add salt and chilli powder and mix well.
Finally add yogurt and let the whole mixture cook for another 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat.
In another wide pan spread the cooled rice .add the soaked saffron all over the rice. the beautiful warm orange color starts spreading. Pour the spicy vegetable mixture on top of the rice. I like to work with my hands at this point. Mix with your hands thoroughly the rice and vegetables and the gravy altogether, so that the mixture evenly coats all of the rice.
Add salt if needed. If the dish is dry, mix in some olive oil on top. Cover the pan with aluminium foil.
Now turn on the heat to medium low. Keep the pan on heat for about 10 minutes and let the whole dish cook through.
Serve warm with some raitha on the side.