If you haven’t noticed too much north Indian food on these pages so far, it’s not because I don't cook any of it. On the contrary, the dishes I grew up with form the biggest part of my daily food. Commonplace yes, because I know it so well, but also very, very special to me. So what better way to start writing about the dishes of my childhood than a trip back home and a favorite from mom.
Because wheat based flatbreads are the staple of north India, we eat rice infrequently. Peas Pulao is a lazy winter dish, quick to make, and cooked when you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen.
Start by shelling some peas and chopping an onion & a potato lengthwise. At the same time, soak 1 cup basmati rice in water. Saute the vegetables in some ghee, then add salt and garam masala. Add the soaked rice, toss for a minute to coat with ghee, then add 2 cups water and simmer until the water evaporates completely and the rice is done.
The pulao tastes best with plain curd. And like any dish made hundreds of time, there are plenty of variations we’ve tried over the years. This one has potatoes because I love them. I also love whole peppercorns, but not any other spice. My mom’s favorite will leave potatoes out, but add cauliflower florets instead. All whole spices – peppercorns, cardamom, cumin, cloves – add a nice delicate flavor. Experiment and find what works best for you. This is something you are going to make many times anyway.