Navratri or the nine nights festivity comes twice a year, once before the onset of summers and then again just before winters. During the nine nights of navratri, the nine forms of mother goddess Durga are worshiped.
Many people in North and west India fast during the nine days of navratri. It is considered to be an auspicious time to start new ventures, plans and it is a time to get spiritual and worship and pray to Goddess Durga and purify the mind, body and soul of all the impurities and negativity.
Nine days of fasting include avoiding non-vegetarian and onion, garlic among a whole list of foods. For people who are fasting, the food is consumed only once or twice a day. Mostly fruits, milk or other dairy products, potatoes and selected veggies, and some forms of flour like kuttu ka atta (buckwheat flour), singhare ka atta (water chestnut flour), swaang ka atta (barnyard millet flour), swaang ke chawal (barnyard millet rice), sabudana (tapioca pearls), among others are consumed.
We oblige happily as this fasting time is more of a feast as a variety of dishes such as puri, pakoras, halwa, aloo tikki and stuffed flat bread are prepared at home using the flour specified above. Swaang ke chawal are used to make pulao (rice stirfry), dalia (porridge) and kheer (rice pudding). The vrat food or the food consumed when fasting is a whole different form of cuisine altogether.
Pulao is one-pot Indian dish, which can be made quickly and consists of rice and veggies. Pulao is either served as a side dish with a curry or eaten as it is with yoghurt when you have no time to cook anything else. :-)
This Veg Pulao is simple and quick and is full of goodness of veggies. Since it doesn't have any garlic or spices, the original taste of vegetables is retained in the dish. One can very well taste the natural sweet taste of the corn, peas and carrot.
I do not have pictures to complement the procedure as I made these rice in the morning in a hurry. But I will try and explain the process step by step and it is very simple and easy to follow.
Difficulty Level: Easy
Prepping time: 10 min
Cooking time: 15-20 min
1 cup Basmati rice (washed and soaked in water for at least 15 min)
1 small potato, cubed
2 carrots, finely chopped
1/2 cup peas
1/4 cup sweet corn
1 tsp jeera or cumin seeds
2 green chilies, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped
2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp red chili powder
salt, to taste
1) In a wok, heat ghee and add cumin seeds. Let them flutter and golden and then add finely chopped green chili and tomato.
2) When tomatoes have a paste-like consistency and once the ghee has separated, add chopped carrots, potatoes, peas and sweet corn. Stir. Add a pinch of salt.
3) Add 1/4 cup water and close the lid and on low flame let the veggies soften in steam.
4) Open the lid and check if carrots, potatoes and peas are soft but not mushy. If the veggies are stiff, cover and cook for 2-4 min more.
5) When the veggies seem soft, add red chili powder, salt to taste and 2 cups water. Bring to boil and add rice. Bring it to boil again and cover and let the rice cook on low flame for 10 min.
6) Turn off the flame. Leave the wok covered for 5-10 min and then serve hot with pickle or yoghurt.
This colourful Veg Pulao made it into the lunch boxes for the husband and Little M. I would recommend everyone to try this pulao.
Wishing a happy Navratri to all the celebrating fellow Indians!
Please note that this recipe is apt for people who are not observing the fast but this is not a vrat food and cannot be eaten by those fasting.
Thanks for reading! :-)