Tuesday 15 October 2013

Mushroom Pulao with Roasted Garlic

So you probably all know about my friend, one Addie Raghavan, cheesemaking maestro, judgey... ahem, discerning food critic and all around amazing friend and moral support. Addie is currently judging, ahem... eating his way through Mumbai, though ostensibly he's there for work :) Every so often he posts some amazing looking picture on Instagram of his mom's (and his) cooking, at which point I drool, then curse his arse :)

The two pictures below that got me messaging him frantically for the recipe... he duly obliged and once I made this recipe, I totally knew why he was raving about it. This is an Addie's own recipe, just tweaked very little by yours truly. I actually have a traditional clay pot that my grandma used to cook curries in, and its got a rounded bottom, so I have a wok ring that worked as my diffuser. The clay pot worked perfectly as the perfect heat conductor and I covered it with foil which allowed the pulao to steam, like traditional pulaos should.

Addie recommends making this in a Le Creuset or a similar heavy based pot. If you don't have a cast iron pot and have a gas range, you can diffuse the heat by using a heavy gauge frying pan with water on which the pot sites, like Addie has done in the above picture. Addie recommends serving this pulao with a simple masala dal and pickles, as stronger curries might mask its delicate flavours.

These are the recipe notes in Addie's own words. I tweaked the recipe to suit what I had at home, as I had criminis and a pack of dried mixed mushrooms as well (plus I doubled it, as I wanted to make enough for six people), but the basic recipe is definitely an 'Addie Original'. Especially the roasted garlic, my mate, he LOVES his roasted garlic, he does :)

'Choose your favorite flavorful mushroom for this recipe. While criminis give a fairly strong earthiness, using a more potent mushroom like porcini would lead to fabulous results.  Might be fun to try using dried mushrooms (note: I did). In this case, I would use the water used to soak the mushrooms too (note: did this too).

While designing this recipe, I intentionally went for a mild and flavorful pulao. I could have gone stronger – added onions, made a masala and got a strongly flavored dish, but I wanted to steer clear of something that would be very similar to an “Indian mushroom risotto.”

Traditional handi pulaos and biryanis work on the principle of low heat and completely covered cooking, so as to keep all the flavors intact.  It requires a relatively high specific heat capacity and heat transfer at constant temperature. A cast iron (Le Creuset pan) is the best, if you own one.

My handi contraption involved using the heaviest pan I had and placing it on a flat pan with which I could then control the temperature by making a shallow water bath. The key is to allow it to cook relatively slowly and to ensure flavors stay intact.'

I followed the method faithfully, and whichever way you make it, you are guaranteed a pulao that just tastes out of this world. Earthiness from the fresh and dried mushrooms, balanced with sweet, fragrant roasted garlic, chunks of mushrooms, and the fresh flavour of chopped cilantro. This makes a simple pulao extraordinary, and I have to thank my dear mate for sharing it with me.

 Mushroom Pulao with Roasted Garlic

(Printable Recipe)

2 cups basmati rice
Water, to soak the rice
4 tablespoons unscented oil
1/2 unpeeled head of garlic, sliced through the equator (4 - 5 garlic cloves)
400g pack crimini mushrooms, chopped
25g dried mixed mushrooms, re-hydrated for 20 minutes in 1.5 cups boiling water. Reserve the water, and chop the mushrooms coarsely
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh cilantro, chopped, to garnish


Wash and soak the basmati rice in cold water for an hour. Drain, reserving 1.5 cups of the soaking water. 

Heat the oil in a heavy based pot, and on a low heat, place the sliced half head of garlic, cut side down. Leave the garlic, gently sizzling, for about 10 - 15 minutes, until it is golden, roasted and sweet. Take out the garlic, leaving behind the delicious, garlic infused oil, and let cool. When cool, squeeze out the flesh, and coarsely crush with the back of a knife. Keep aside. 

Add the chopped crimini and re-hydrated dried mushrooms to the oil, along with the salt and sweat for a few minutes. 

Add the drained rice and crushed garlic to the pot, and saute for a minute. 

Add the reserved rice soaking water and the mushroom water (the total amount of water should measure 3 cups) and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting, cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil and let the rice steam, undisturbed for 20 minutes. 

After 20 minutes, take the pot off the heat, leaving it covered and let the rice sit for another 5 minutes. 

Open the foil, carefully, and fluff the pulao with a fork. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with a simple masala dal and pickle.



  1. Thanks for posting my recipe :-)

  2. Looks too good.. lovely captures.. love it :)

    1. Thanks Hari Chandana... all my friend Addie's magic :)

  3. Love the inspiration behind this recipe Michelle! It sounds as good as it looks!!


  4. Nice one :) Beautifully pictured!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.


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