Health, packed in a pot

Pushpesh Pant

Over the last three months spent under lockdown, if brunches have lingered on, lunch and dinner have often been ‘one-dish meals’. The option of ordering meals from takeaways was not available during this period and fear lurked that the dreaded virus may creep in along with the delivery. People are now learning to live with coronavirus, but this experience has changed the way families cooked and ate and washed the plates together.

Many of our friends rediscovered long lost pleasures of slow cooking, no-waste cooking and handi or casserole cooking. One often had to make do with whatever was available in the fridge or kitchen shelves. People experimented and improvised. At the same time, immunity had to be built and monotony avoided. Sharing potluck acquired a whole new meaning too. For some, happiness lied in noodle-fortified soups, clear or broth-like, others opted for salads, blending carbohydrates and proteins, garnished with dried fruits, nuts and seeds.

The recipe we share with our readers was also created while playing around with whatever was at hand on a particular day. You will note that the substance to this pulao is not contributed by grains but veggies, corn and paneer. These also add colour and texture to the dish. The only indulgence is butter/ghee that lends the dish a touch of luxury and a satisfying feel.

Share this potluck with unexpected guests without hesitation. Quickly stir fried cauliflower florets and shredded cabbage can be added to stretch the delicacy.

Dalia pulao

  • Dalia 1 cup
  • Peas (shelled) 1 cup
  • Carrots (scraped and cubed) 1/2 cup
  • Sweet corn 1/2 cup
  • Paneer (cubed and lightly fried) 100 g
  • Button mushrooms (thinly sliced) 50g
  • Onion (medium sized sliced fine) 1
  • Tomatoes (pureed) 2
  • Garlic-ginger paste 1 tsp
  • Green chillies (deseeded) 2
  • Coriander leaves (chopped fine) 1/2 cup
  • Amritsari badi (optional) 1
  • Cinnamon stick 1×2-inch piece
  • Black pepper 1/2 tsp
  • Brown cardamom 1
  • Green cardamom 1
  • Bay leaf 1
  • Cloves 2
  • Cumin powder 1/2tsp
  • Coriander powder 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
  • Butter/ghee 1/2 cup
  • Salt to taste


Soak dalia in water for 10 minutes, drain and keep aside. Heat butter in a pan or pressure cooker and put in all the whole spices. Stir briskly. When these change colour, add ginger-garlic paste and stir fry for 15 seconds, then add the sliced onions and continue stir frying on medium flame till these change colour to light brown. Now add the pureed tomatoes along with powdered spices and salt. Stir fry for a couple of minutes before adding peas, carrots, mushrooms, sweet corn. Stir well, add dalia and stir again. Pour a cup of water and add the badi, if using, along with chopped coriander and pressure cook till one whistle. If using a pan, check if done after 8-10 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle fried paneer evenly all over the surface. Using a fork to fluff the pulao and serve with mint raita or plain curd. Perfectly light and balanced lunch for a summer day.

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