Halwai Chef from Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Goa, Taraknath Haldar, who hails from the quaint village of Dewanganj, in West Bengal, holds a special place for the festivities of Navratri in his cherished memories.
Says he, “Navratri isn’t just a festival for me. It's a nostalgia that connects my emotions down the memory lane of my past – the dhak beats, the fragrance of shiuli, uproar of fun and frolic, traditional delicacies, twinkling of streets, the igniting fires of arati, the pujo.”
The nostalgic flavour of Meethe Pulao invokes a sense of festivity and brings to mind fond memories of the past for him. As a child, nothing could match the immense happiness of having something sweet.
He recalls how during the festivities of Navratri, due to dietary restrictions, his mother would never miss out on cooking this delicate rice preparation. As the aroma of spices engulfed the house, Chef Haldar along his family would commence the religious ceremonies. Meethe Pulao was distributed as prasad during this festive season.
RECIPE: MEETHE PULAO
By Taraknath Haldar (Halwai Chef – Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Goa)
200 g basmati rice
80 g sugar
400 ml water
4 tbsp ghee
1 inch cinnamon
2 black cardamom
2 bay leaves
50 g cashewnut
20 g raisins
Few strands of saffron
4 coconut slices for garnish
A pinch of turmeric
Wash and soak the rice for an hour. Drain and keep aside.
Heat ghee in a saucepan, and fry cashewnuts and raisins for a minute. Remove and keep aside.
In the same saucepan, add the remaining ghee, whole spices and turmeric. Sauté till fragrant.
Add water and saffron. Bring to a boil.
Once the water boils, add the rice.
Reduce the flame and cook until 75% done.
Add sugar and mix well.
Cover and simmer on a low flame.
When done, garnish with cashewnuts and raisins
Servings: 3 portions