Peela pulao – lemon rice with cashew nuts



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Peela pulao

Wash the basmati rice in several changes of cold running water until the water runs clear, then place in a bowl and soak for 2 hours in more fresh cold water. (If you do not have time to soak the rice for 2 hours, then do soak it for as long as possible before cooking – even the briefest soaking time makes a difference)
When ready to cook, drain the soaked basmati rice and set aside. In a heavy-based pan that has a lid, heat the oil over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the cardamom pods, cassia bark, cloves and bay leaf to the pan. After a few seconds, when the spices begin to sizzle and pop, using a slotted spoon, remove them from the pan to a plate and set aside
Using the same oil the spices were fried in, add the onion rings to the pan and fry gently, stirring occasionally until golden brown and caramelised. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions from the pan, leaving as much of the oil in the pan as possible to cook the other ingredients, and place on a plate to drain. Spread the onion rings across the plate so they crisp as they cool
  • 1 white onion, medium, evenly and thinly sliced into rings
Put the kettle on to boil. You should have enough oil left in the pan to fry the spices and cashew nuts; if not, add another 1 tbsp vegetable oil. To the same pan, add the mustard seeds and fry until they pop, then add the cashew nuts and curry leaves. Immediately add the soaked rice and ground turmeric to the pan. Stir for 1 minute to coat the rice in the spice-infused oil, then cover the rice with 600ml boiling water from the kettle
Return the fried whole spices and caramelised onion rings to the pan in the rice water. Add the salt. Cook uncovered over a medium-high heat until the water has been almost absorbed by the rice (about 4 minutes)
Once most of the water has been absorbed, add half the lemon zest slivers. Cover the pan with the lid, lower the heat and simmer for a further 15–20 minutes. Once the rice is cooked, pour the lemon juice into the rice and gently mix using a fork to lift and separate the grains
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested (cut the zest into slivers)
To serve, garnish the rice with the remaining lemon zest slivers, and some fresh slices of lemon, if desired
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