Basanti polao or mishti polao is a sweet, ghee-laden rice dish made from fragrant gobindabhog or kalijeera rice, cashew nuts and raisins. This is the main rice dish of choice for any special occasion. Among the side dishes served with basanti pulao, kosha mangsho is the most popular. While there are many other kinds of polao made with different types of fruits, nuts, meat or fish, this one has become the most popular, featuring prominently on the menus of Bengali specialty restaurants such as Bhojohori Manna, Kewpie's, etc.
Use aged, non-parboiled (aatop) gobindobhog rice for this dish. New rice breaks very easily and will lead to a mash instead of perfectly cooked individual grains. We fry the rice before boiling it to enhance its flavours and break down the starch (which prevents rice from turning sticky). Also be careful of the amount of water you add. For 500 g rice, we’re using 1050 g water. However, as quality of rice varies widely, it is best that you reserve some of the water (5–10%) and add only if necessary.
This polao tastes best the next day, so plan accordingly. Resting allows all the flavours to mingle nicely. It also ensures that all the moisture is absorbed by rice grains, leading to fluffier polao.
- 500 g aged gobindobhog rice
- 100 g bengali-style ghee
- 6 g ginger (finely chopped)
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 8 pcs cardamom
- 3 pcs cinnamon
- 8 pcs cloves
- 3 pcs bay leaves
- 20 g salt
- 70 g sugar
- 35 g cashew nuts
- 35 g raisins
- 6 pcs green chillies
- 1050 g hot water
- Wash and rinse rice, and leave it to air-dry over a strainer.
- Once dry, transfer it to a mixing bowl. Add to it finely chopped ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, and Bengali-style ghee. Mix until rice grains are well coated with ghee and spices. Cover and rest for about an hour.
- Before you start cooking, set water to boil in a pot or in an electric kettle.
- Heat 5 g ghee in a kadai. Add the cashews and fry them until they are lightly coloured (about a minute). Now add the marinated rice. Fry it for about 6 minutes on medium until the rice takes on an opaque appearance. Add the raisins and fry for another 2 minutes.
- Add about 1050 g (±5%) hot water, along with the salt. The amount of water is important. Add too much and polao will become soggy, add too little and it may stick to the pan.
- Cover and cook on lowest possible heat for about 10 minutes.
- Add sugar and slit green chillies. Gently fold them into the rice, taking care to ensure that you don't break the grains of rice too much.
- Put the lid back on and steam for another 5 mins to let the sugar dissolve and any remaining moisture get absorbed into the rice. Turn off the heat and let it rest for some time before serving.