I remember before I got married, I asked my then-fiance now-husband what his favourite food was. He responded, quite sheepishly, ‘I like Pilau and Biryani’.
A little voice inside of me sniggered ‘Oh great. Those are like the most complicated Pakistani recipes ever. You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, Fatima.’
I had to pep-talk myself into not breaking it off.
Well, it turns out Pilau isn’t really that difficult. It’s actually quite simple. I can probably name 5 other Pakistani dishes I find more difficult than Pilau. Which is a relief, because A. my husband likes my Pilau, B. I do not like Biryani and C. I don’t plan on cooking Biryani in the near future. I probably would have regretted cancelling the marriage because of the whole Pilau business.
I’ve experimented with different spices in this recipe and I’ve finally found the one. This is now officially my go-to Pilau recipe that I will now make with my eyes closed. My husband really enjoyed this one. The game changer in this is the ghee. Legitimately, using ghee will transform your Pilau. Every grain of rice was moist and buttery… just what I like in my rice. If you don’t have ghee, you can use oil but I can’t vouch for the same delicious results the ghee-version will produce. The ghee gives it a rich, melt-in-your-mouth taste and the most enticing aroma. Butter is also another option, but I personally have never used it so I can’t guarantee how it will turn out.
Also, I used this chicken broth recipe as the base for the Pilau instead of water. It definitely adds a deeper dimension of flavour and richness to the Pilau. If you have the time, I highly recommend going through the extra effort of making the broth the day before, especially since the ‘extra effort’ is just letting the broth simmer on the stovetop without as much as a peep.
I’ve included some pictures of the cooking process as I understand this isn’t an easy dish, especially since it isn’t just a matter of dumping everything into one pot and having it magically transform into a meal. Due to the time of day when I cooked, some of the pictures aren’t very clear and some were so bad I couldn’t post them! But if you have any more questions, do ask.
Serve with raita (cucumber and yogurt), salad and shami kebabs!
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