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Yakhani pulav

Being posted in Srinagar, I got to know a lot about kashmiri food, As I mentioned earlier, kashmiri cuisine is more popular for their non veg dishes . Kashmiri food is very much influenced with Avadhi cuisine. Being a vegetarian I tried to convert them into vege versions , most of them came out excellently with almost the same flavor and aroma .

Yakhani is a famous kashmiri food, mildly spiced meat dish, made in yogurt based sauce. Yakhani is usually made with mutton as the meat. I replaced meat with veg chicken/ soya chunks and added vegetables in it. The most important aspect of Yakhani is its aromatic flavor, it is an aromatic spicy dish full of cardamom and cinnamon.

As per the actual authentic recipe meat was marinated in roasted and grounded spices and then cooked to make soup / broth/ yakhni . Rice is cooked in yakhni which means “soup” or “stock”.  the stock is made first by cooking the meat with the spices. this is a veg version. I gave a twist to this, for vegetarian version, I cooked vegetables with spices to make stock.

To make yakhni / stock veggies are half cooked with spices and strained stock or yakhni and added to rice along with half cooked veggies and then cooked on dum...this way the rice absorbs all the flavors of the yakhni 

Bouquet Garni :

While learning the recipe I learnt a couple of new terms, first is bouquet garni, a very important part of any type of biryani or pulao, the spices are kept in a muslin cloth and then tied tightly. These days ball strainer is available instead .
The bouquet garni / ball strainer packed with spices is kept with the veggies, water, salt and the whole mixture cooked till the veggies are half done. the bouquet garni is squeezed and discarded. the stock is strained and the veggies are kept aside.
later the veggies, stock and rice are cooked on dum. I use long grain basmati rice for this pilaf recipe. For best results soak the basmati rice in water for about 30 minutes....drain it before adding it to the veggies and yogurt.
Second interesting term is birista .
If you are familiar with Indian food, you have eaten birista (bah-REES-tah):  thinly-sliced crispy, golden, deep-fried onions.  They are very common to an Indian kitchen but I have never heard of this term before. Though I make it very often. 

Yakhani Pulav | Veg Yakhani Pulav

Yakhni pulav, pilaf

For the bouquet garni:

3-4 strands of mace
1 tbsp coriander seeds/dhania
½ tbsp caraway seeds/shah jeera
3 cloves/laung
2 inch cinnamon/dalchini
¼ tsp nutmeg/jaiphal
½ tbsp chopped ginger garlic

For the Veg Yakhni:

1 cups soya chunks / Nutri nugget 
2 cups chopped veggies like potato,carrots, beans, peas
4 1/2 cups water
salt

For the Pulao:

3 or 4 tbsp ghee
2 cups basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes
1 tsp caraway seeds/shah jeera
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste 
1 medium sized onion, sliced
1 cup curd/yogurt

For the Garnish:

1 small onion, thinly sliced and fried - also known as birista
½ cup fried cashew nuts (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

To make the bouqet garni:

Step 1. Take all the ingredients mentioned above for the bouquet garni in a muslin cloth/ ball strainer. Tie the muslin cloth securely with the spices inside it. this is the bouquet garni.

Ball strainer
Preparing the yakhni:

Step 2. Heat 4 1/2 cups of water. Add the bouquet Garni, chopped veggies and salt.
cook the veggies till they are half done. Meanwhile boil 1 cups of soya chunks in 2 cups of water add a little salt to it.....boil till it become soft squeeze and keep aside. squeeze the bouquet garni and discard away the spices this will be more easier if you are using ball strainer ....no need to squeez it( if using ball strainer). Through a strainer, strain the stock/yakhni and keep the veggies aside.

Preparing the Pulao:

Step 3. Heat ghee in a handi .add the caraway seeds and fry till they sizzle.Add the sliced onions and fry them till they are browned. Add the ginger garlic paste.Stir for a minute or till the raw smell of the ginger garlic disappears.

Step 4. Now add the half cooked veggies, boiled Nutri and curd. Mix everything properly. Add the drained basmati rice and mix the rice with the spices and curd.
Now pour 4 cups of the broth/yakhni.

Step 5. Adjust salt as required . we have already added salt to the yakhni. keep this in mind before adding the salt.mix well and cover with a tight lid.cook for 15-20 minutes on dum.

Dum pukth : Dum means to ‘breathe in’ and pukht to 'cook'. In Dum pukht cooking we use a round, heavy – bottomed pot, a handi, in which food is tightly sealed and cooked over a slow fire. There are two main aspects to this style of cooking; bhunao and dum, or ‘roasting’ and ‘maturing’ of a prepared dish. 
In this style of cuisine, herbs and spices play an extremely critical role. The process of slow roasting gently persuades each to release maximum flavor. The sealing of the lid of the handi with dough achieves maturing. Cooking slowly in its juices, the food retains all its natural aromas and becomes imbued with the richness of flavors that distinguishes the dish.
garnish yakhni pulao with fried onions, fried mint leaves and fried cashew nuts.
serve veg yakhni pulao hot with onion raita or with onion mint cucumber.


NOTES

# I prefer long grain good quality basmati rice for making pulav or biryani.
# If the rice appears not to be completely cooked, just add some warm yakhni/broth  
   to the rice. stir gently with a fork. cover tightly and cook for a few minutes more.
# you can use any vegetable of your choice. 
# variations :
 1. You can use mushroom for mushroom yakhni pulav.
 2.  You can use cottage cheese instead of Nutri if you want.
 3.  Non vegetarians can use any meat of there choice must marinate meat before you use  for yakhni pulav. 
 4.  It is a perfect brunch option. 
 5.  Perfect for pot lucks.

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