The word ‘Basanti’ means yellow in Bengali. The sweet yellow Basanti Pulao or Polao, as we Bengalis call it, is one of our quintessential food items that we prepare during any special occasion – marriage, pujo, birthdays, feasts and so on. The sweet taste of the Basanti Polao complements the hot and spicy side dishes, or you can eat it as a standalone dish with hot Begunis and Chutney.
The Bengali Basanti Pulao Recipe has its roots from the Zarda Pulao of Islamic Cuisine. The word ‘Zarda’ is derived from the Persian word ‘Zard’ meaning yellow. ‘Ain-i-Akbari’ mentions a dish called ‘Zarda Birinj,’ which is the forerunner of the modern Zarda Pulao or simply Zarda, a dessert. However, we have totally Bengalized the preparation by adding holud or turmeric powder to bring that ‘Basanti’ or rich yellow colour instead of very expensive kesar. Again, a Kayastha Kitchen connection here!
Ingredients of Basanti Pulao Recipe
- India Gate Basmati Rice (Long Grained Rice, we have used Nafisa Rice or Nafis Rice here): 350 gms (Washed and soaked for about 15-20 minutes)
- Ghee: 6 tsp
- Turmeric Powder – 2 tsp
- Grated ginger: 1 and 1/2 tsp
- Salt: According to taste
- Sugar: According to taste (we have taken 6 tbsps)
- Dry fruits: Cashew Nuts and Raisins
- Whole Garam Masala Spices: 6 cloves, 4 green cardamoms, 1-inch cinnamon stick, a bay leaf
- Water: Double quantity of rice (1 cup rice, 2 cups water)
Preparation of Basanti Pulao
- Marinate the soaked rice carefully with 3 tbsp ghee, ginger paste, sugar and turmeric powder for 15-20 minutes.
- Heat the pan. Add in remaining ghee.
- After the ghee gets heated, add in the whole garam masala spices. Fry in till the aroma starts coming out.
- Add in the dry fruits—Fry for a minute or so.
- Add in the soaked and marinated Basmati rice once the cashews become brownish and the raisins puff up.
- Keep stirring the rice till the rice stops sticking to the pan.
- It takes around 2-3 minutes.
- Add the water now. You can heat the water and add it to the rice too.
- Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until done.
Keep the lid slightly open so that the rice doesn’t get sticky.
Basanti Pulao can be cooked in a cooker too. Cook on the pressure until the cooker blows one whistle.
Serve the hot Basanti Polao with Chicken Sukka for that amazing east and south fusion on your plate, with Kankrar jhaal, chicken keema, or spicy mutton kosha. Or, you can just polish it off with starters like Potoler Dolma or Stuffed Kankrol. The choice is entirely yours!! Bon Appetit!!
Tips For Quick Preparation
You can use simple Gobindobhog Atop Rice to make Basanti Pulao too. In that case, you need to soak the rice for a maximum of 15 minutes and marinate it for just 5 minutes before cooking.
If you have some sudden guests in your house, or want to enjoy some delicious home-made food after a hectic day, try out the Basanti Pulao recipe; if not in the typical traditional style with long grained rice, cook it within 30 minutes with the Gobindo Bhog rice which is very readily available in every grocery shop.