Orange is a dieter’s delight – it has a glorious fresh fragrance, lovely bright appearance and you can gorge on the juicy fruit all the while without thinking of the waistline. That is what my nutritionist said, and I used to have at least five a day squirming out of apples all the time – notice the past tense! I love oranges that have a slight tang – not totally sweet. Any thing too sugary is an absolute no-no with me – I like things balanced and subtle, and this rice is perfect in every way. It has a very subtle fruity flavour, not too overpowering but an alluring one, and the slight natural sweetness of ————-, guess what?
To go with the rice I made aloo-palak (Potatoes in spinach puree) as I love my greens and the best time to consume greens is evenings. Spinach pairs up very well with rice as well as flat breads.
This time Jr.P had two helpings – wonder of wonders! He is forever trying to get out of eating mixed rice varieties like pulao or lemon rice etc., and today when he asked for more I was thrilled (Bollywood Mummy hoti toh kehti – “Aaj tumne mere khaane ki laaj rakh li, beta!” with a few khushi ke aansoo)! P and Jr.H eat heartily even otherwise but P told me he loved it at least five times, so that must mean something. I am not a modest person so you know what I think of the dish!
How to check the quality of cloves?
When you press a clove head between two fingers the scent should be strong. It does give a very subtle oily feel.
If the head powders and there is no scent left behind the quality isn’t good enough but I still wouldn’t discard it. You will not feel an oil of the same grease as coconut or sunflower. This is one of the many tips given by Sanjeev Kapoor in Khana Khazana during the earlier days.
I shop for spices at ‘Royal dry fruits’ at Mangaldas Market
Vithaldas at one of these places:
Opp. Mangaldas Market, Near Juma Masjid, Mumbai – 400 002.
+91 (22) 2342 5416 / 2342 9269
Fort, Mumbai-400001, Opposite Bombay Stores (Phone: 022-22664950)
They have a wonderful array of sweets, namkeens, powders and spice. If you are in Mumbai, and anywhere near Churchgate or CST/VT, do visit them.
Recipe: Orange Saffron Rice
For the rice:
Rice (I used kolam polished rice) – 2 cups washed and drained before beginning the pulao
Freshly squeezed orange juice – 1 cup
Coconut milk (First milk extract or canned) – 1 cup
Water – 2 cups
Bayleaf – 1 big
Cloves – 4 to 5
Small green cardamom (crushed slightly) – 4
Black peppercorns – 5
Cumin seeds – 2tsps.
About 1/8 tsp of saffron strands infused in a tablespoon of warm water
Veggies (Optional, except for onions)
Onions (sliced thin) – 2 medium
Potatoes (Slit longitudinally and cut into thick wedges) – 2 medium
Fresh shelled peas – 1 cup
Cut the middle portions of an orange into 3mm thick discs. Peel and separate the wedges – about 15 such wedges.
Cashews – 7-10
Oil – 1.5 tbsp.
Infuse the saffron at least 15minutes before you start cutting the vegetables and begin preparation.
Heat the oil. Fry the cashews till golden, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Splutter cumin seeds. Add the spices except the saffron and fry till the cloves swell.
Add the onions and fry till transparent and add the rest of the vegetables and fry for a minute.
Add the strained rice and fry for a minute. Add the water and then the coconut milk and juice. Let it come to a boil. Add the saffron with the water. Adjust salt and cook in open till the rice swells and grains soak up the liquid. They should be separate.
My method of cooking rice:
I usually allow the liquid to boil. When it comes to a boil, I close the cooker and put the whistle. After exactly two minutes, I sim the fire and allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Then wait for the cooker to cool naturally to room temperature. This ensures perfect pulao cooking.
Remove the rice, fluff it with a fork and carefully stir in the orange wedges and cashews or simply garnish. I stirred.
Serve garnished with a twisted orange disc.