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What’s cooking today: Kashmiri pulao



What’s cooking today: Kashmiri pulao

Tony Jackman’s Kashmiri pulao, served in a bowl from Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Rice can be a bit of an event in its own right, and a pulao, or pilau, or pilaf, can not only taste deliciously creamy but take on a variety of spices and also be finished with nuts and dried fruits. This Kashmiri version is all about all of the above.

Pilau. Pulao. Pilaf. What’s the difference? I’d often wondered. But it’s easy to demystify it: because they’re more or less the same thing, in different cultures. Pulao is Indian (Gujarati and Kashmiri) and Nepalese; pilaf is commonly used in the USA, while in Britain and certain other countries pilau is more commonly used.

Either way, it’s a basmati rice dish involving several successive techniques: rinsing, soaking, stir frying, and then a combination of simmering and steaming. There’s more to it than this, though, because a pulao dish such as the one I’m sharing here is cooked in milk and cream, rather than water.

But first you need to braise spices in ghee, so that the spices permeate every grain of rice while it’s cooking,


2 cups basmati rice, soaked

1 tsp cumin seeds

3 cloves

1 stick cinnamon

5 cardamom pods

2 bay leaves

2 cups full cream milk

½ cup cream

1 tsp sugar

Salt to taste

4 Tbsp ghee

⅓ cup cashews and slivered almonds

⅓ cup sultanas


Wash the rice four times, drain each time, then cover with water and leave to soak for two hours.

Mix the milk, cream, sugar and salt in a jug.

Drain the rice.

Heat the ghee in a heavy pan and add the cumin seeds, cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom pods and cloves.

When the seeds begin to pop, add the rice and fry in the ghee for 2 minutes, while stirring. You’ll find that every grain of rice will be coated by the ghee. This is what you’re looking for.

Add the dairy mixture and ½ cup water as well as the sultanas and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover and simmer on a low heat until the rice is tender.

Toast the cashews and almonds until lightly golden. Stir them into the rice, scattering a few on top. Serve as part of an exotic dinner along with a meat or fish main course and suitable sambals, poppadoms and the like. I served Kashmiri pulao with Saag Gosht (mutton rib and spinach curry) followed by my Orange-cardamom ice cream. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.


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