Berry Pulao

By • February 23, 2016 0 Comments

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Author Notes: I visited Mumbai for the first time back in 2011 and despite only the one visit, it remains my favorite Indian city. My husband, Arjun's sister was living there at the time and we took our (then) baby boy, Shiv on his first trip to India to visit Arjun's family. Mumbai charmed me with its seaside beauty and the incredible range of food. We had totally authentic amazing Chinese food at the Hyatt, quintessential French Crepes at Suzette in Nariman Point, and the most amazing Indian seafood at Mahesh Lunch near Juhu beach. One of my fondest food memories is the lunch we had at the famous Parsi restaurant called Britannia which has been around for decades. Even British royalty have dined there and the sweet owner will show the letter of appreciation sent by Prince William to anyone who will listen. The Parsis are a long time immigrant community in India that originally hails from Iran. They are of the Zoroastrian faith and fled their home country to escape Muslim persecution back in the 8th or 9th century.

One of the dishes that everyone talks about from Britannia is the berry pulao. Basically, meatballs are simmered in a tangy tomato gravy and baked with rice. There are tart little berries called barberries and sweet browned onions distributed throughout the rice. One taste of this magical stuff and I've been jonesing for it ever since. But finding a recipe for it is surprisingly hard. The Britannia owners have never revealed how to make this dish and it remains a closely guarded secret.

I have tinkered a bit and come up with a recipe that I fell closely approximates the delicious original. You can make this dish with the traditional basmati rice or the lower carb cauliflower rice. After trying both, I actually prefer the cauliflower rice because it makes this a one dish dinner. No vegetable side required! Try not to eat it all in one sitting.
Shveta Berry

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Serves 4

Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Pulao

  • 1 Cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 tablespoons ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chaat masala (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup barberries or cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted cashews
  1. Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a bowl thoroughly. I find it easiest to do this with my hands. Once mixed, shape the balls into walnut sized balls and set aside.
  2. Thinly slice the onion into half moons and then cut those pieces in half. Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee in a large skillet and sauté the onions over moderate heat until they turn golden brown. This should take 7-10 minutes. Once the are done, remove them to a plate and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee in a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add the cumin seeds, ginger and garlic and sauté for about a minute.
  4. Add the turmeric, chili flakes, coriander, cardamom, and mix well. Add the tomato puree and salt and mix well. Cook until the ghee starts to pool and separate from the tomato - about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Gently add the meatballs into the saucepan and cover with half the browned onions. Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes over low heat.
  6. While the meatballs are cooking, make your cauliflower rice. Put the florets in your food processor and pulse 20-25 times until the cauliflower is in small rice sized pieces. Don't overdo it! You don't want mush.
  7. Once the meatballs have cooked for ten minutes, add the chaat masala and garam masala and give the pot a stir. Add the water and stir again.
  8. Cover the meatballs with the cauliflower rice. On top of the rice, sprinkle the remaining browned onions, cashews and berries. Cover and cook for 15 minutes until the rice is meltingly tender.

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