Monday, June 30, 2008

The most beautiful baked rice

And by that I mean Nupur's version of Madhur Jaffrey's lubia polo. Ever since I read about the Persian dried limes, my one ambition was to somehow source it so that I could make this dish. I didnt want to use lime juice - how boring! So finally I came across a website that sold ingredients for Iraqi, Iranian, Turkish and other such exotic cuisine, so I lavishly ordered away. And in a few days, a little neatly packed box arrived all the way from - er, Germany, actually. Preserved limes, dried lime, dried lime powder - all of these are now in my possession. I have to tell you, the dried lime smells mouth-watering - like neer elumichangai that has ever so slightly fermented.

Anyway, with the dried lime and the dried lime powder (using which is a lot less finicky work than manually separating the black bits from the whole dried limes, I can tell you), I made lubia polo.

Dried lime tapped open with a hammer

Then pulled apart by hand

The black interior contents scraped out (on the right) and the discarded lime peel (left)

Readymade powdered dried lime - a much simpler option

And then I suddenly realised that the post had been hanging fire for at least 10 days, and it would be perfect for
Zlamushka's "Tried and Tasted" event that's currently happening - assuming I'm not too late with my offering.

This baked green-bean and potato rice has the least amount of spices and seasoning that I've ever seen... and yet the end result is so INCREDIBLY flavourful! I followed pretty much the same method as Nupur, except that instead of garam masala I used a couple of pinches of my extremely potent, aromatic, home-made
dhansak masala!

I have to admit that my lubia polo did not turn out as beautifully shaped as Nupur's, nor did it hold together nicely. But that was because I didnt - dont - have the right-shaped non-stick pan, nor even a heavy-bottomed non-non-stick (how else do you say it?) pan... so I improvised with a shallow vessel I use in the pressure cooker. It was too thin so the potato slices at the bottom got a bit burnt and the rice didnt get a chance to crisp up. But, like I said, it was fantastically tasty, even if not picture-perfect to look at. In any case, if you're looking for picture perfection, the blog to go to is Nupur's! :)

Recipe for:
Nupur's lubia polo


1 cup basmati rice, washed and soaked for 15 minutes
2 cups green beans, halved
1 onion, chopped
1 potato, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 cup tomato puree
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
Salt to taste
1 tsp garam masala/pav bhaji masala/dhansak masala
1 htsp powdered dried lime OR 1 tbsp fresh lime juice


1. Boil the rice in 2 cups of lightly salted water till almost done. Drain well and reserve.

2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and fry the chopped onion till soft and light brown.

3. Add the green beans and saute for a few minutes,

then add the tomato puree and whichever masala you're using.

4. Simmer the beans till tender, then add salt to taste. The sauce should be fairly thick now. Add 1 heaped tsp dried lime powder, mix and set aside.

5. In a medium deep non-stick pan, melt 1 tsp butter. Stir in 1/2 tsp turmeric and water. Layer the bottom of the pan with the thinly sliced potato.

6. Put half the rice over the potatoes,

then pour over the green bean mixture,

and finally the rest of the rice.

7. Cover the pan and leave on medium heat for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to its lowest point.

Place a clean dish towel under the lid and fold the hanging edges back on top of the lid.

9. Cook on low heat for 20 minutes or so, then let the pilaf rest for 10 minutes.

10. After the resting time, invert the pan onto a serving dish. The pilaf should unmold itself whole - but if it doesnt (like mine) dont worry... it will still taste delicious!


Anu said...


Indo-jin desu…actually, will help you loads if you visit the boonies out in Japan. I can’t remember the number of times I’ve had to tell people there that I wasn’t ‘Koku-jin’, but ‘Indo-jin’. Oof!

You know, it’s never too late to learn a language. In my experience of being a language nerd, I can honestly say that the only true qualification you need is die-hard enthusiasm. :)
And in the case of Japanese, the experience of discovering numerous similarities between it & Tamil (seriously-grammar, honorifics, the works!) is an excitement not to be missed!

Anu said...

Lubia Polo!!

I love the Tadeeg at the bottom the most-similar in principle to the Kaandhal, illai?! :)

Lata said...

Very different dish, bookmarking it.

Sagari said...

rice looks reallyyy beautiful

Sunshinemom said...

I can imagine the aroma when you opened that cover! Lovely:)

Mansi Desai said...

it indeed looks beautiful!:)

notyet100 said...


Nupur said... is one of my favorite dishes EVER and I am so glad you tried it, Shammi! This was the dish that got me thinking about how you don't need a ton of ingredients to make something that is incredibly flavorful.
And yes, if I had more sense, I would have hunted down some lime powder. When you need to take a hammer to your food.... :D

catering equipment said...

Looks fantastic!

Bhawana said...

really looked beautiful :)

arundati said...

oh the plated meal looks fabulously photogenic!! mouthwatering!!