The origins of Yakhni Pulao lies back to Persia and was introduced to Indians by the Mughal rulers.Yakhni basically is a yogurt and saffron based mutton broth or stock. The broth/ stock is made using mutton and whole garam masala which is tied in a bouquet. Aromatic spices are the essence of this pulao or pilaf. Yogurt is another ingredient which is the key to bringing all these flavours together and giving this pulao its unique flavor.Meat/Vegetables are half boiled in water along with spices and salt, then cooked again along with rice. Unlike the other pulao recipes, meat/vegetables are cooked twice in yakhni pulao recipe, first directly in water and second along with rice.
This pulao is not to be confused with the biryani. In Biryani meat or vegetables and rice cooked separately, then layered and cooked on dum. For dum cooking, the pot in which the rice and meat are layered is covered with a lid and the rim of the lid and pot are sealed with dough to keep all the steam and flavours of the meat inside the pot. The result is an aromatic biryani. Also, biryani has more intensely flavored meat and rice.The recipe might look so simple and easy too, but needs a lot of care and attention during preparation. The rice grains have to be moist yet separated. Still they have to be soft and tender but not mashed.
Here is the list of ingredients that go into this delicate & aromatic Yakhni pulao. For the Yakhni or Stock:
Wash the rice well and let it soak for at least half an hour.
For the aromatic bouquet take a cheese cloth and put Shahjeera, Coriander seeds, Cloves, Green cardamom, Black cardamom, Cinnamon stick, Bay leaf, black pepper and cloves into it. Tie the top of the cheese cloth into a knot. The bouquet is ready. Keep it aside.
Combine all the ingredients for the ‘Stock’ along with the bouquet in a medium sauce pan. Add the vegetables and bring the mixture to a boil and simmer. After 5 minutes check the vegetables, they should be half done when you have to drain the veggies and immediately place them on a bowl of ice cold water to refrain it from further cooking. Continue to simmer the stock for another 10 minutes.
Heat 2tbsp ghee and fry the thinly sliced onions until browned around the edges and slightly caramelized. Set aside until ready to use. In the same ghee add the cashew nuts and raisins and fry till light brown. Drain and keep aside.
In a heavy bottomed pan; heat 2tbsp ghee and add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add ginger-garlic paste and cook till the raw smell of the masala goes away. Then add the boiled vegetables and the green peas and toss well. Make sure that you do not cook the vegetables more as it is already half done.
Add the whisked yogurt and mix well. Add the chopped mint and coriander leaves .Add 4cups of stock, bring the mixture to a boil, add the rice ,cover and simmer on medium-low flame until the water is evaporated and the rice is tender. Turn off the heat and set aside covered for 5~10 minutes, before serving.
Serve the vegetable Yakhni Pulao sprinkling with the caramelized onion, fried cashew and raisins and a few mint leaves along with a spicy Boondi Raita and a salad .