I always feel blessed to be a Parsi. Not because of the amazing food my community cooks up (I lie) but more so because we get two birthdays and THREE New Years to celebrate! In fact, you will often hear me say you’d never catch Parsis hosting a religious procession the likes we have the pleasure of being stuck in every Ganpati, Eid or any other minor random festival. Firstly because theres not many of us to even cause a serious traffic jam and more importantly because great food beats procession each and every time!
Which is why every New Years that we celebrate I really like to challenge my brain and come up with something truly different. Each and every caterer out there will have Patra ni Machi and Pulao Dal on their menu but I simply get bored of cooking the same thing and so you’ll never find this on ours. Instead, when coming up with our Parsi New Year menu last year, I decided I wanted to make a Fish Pulao. Not a Prawn Pulao – which is pretty standard fare in a Parsi home – but something a bit fancier. And, in Bawa fish land theres nothing fancier than Pomfret so Pomfret Pulao it must be!
It would be fairly easy to just use the same pulao masala as we do in a traditional Mutton or Berry Pulao and simply substitute the protein. However, I wanted something without tomatoes because we bawas put them in just about anything and so I thought it would be fun to mix things up a bit. After researching many non-Parsi fish pulao and biryani recipes as well as having Pomfret Pulao for one continuous week during our trials in the kitchen we finally came up with something that we were happy with. My favourite bit about this recipe is that we didn’t mess with the fish and cooked it the way Pomfret tastes best – lighty marinated and fried – and that the pulao masala itself can be pre-made and stored in the freezer for days making it a great weeknight dinner meal too!
So, if you love all things pomfret, here’s my very own Pomfret Pulao recipe.
Paplet (Pomfret) no Pulao
For the Fish
- 8 Pomfrets
- 2 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Dhansak Masala
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- Oil for Shallow Frying
- 50 gram Ghee
- 6 Bay Leaf
- 1 inch piece of Cinnamon
- 5 Green Cardamoms
- 5 Cloves
- 2 Star Anise
- 2 tsp Biryani Masala
- 1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
- 0.5 tsp Coriander Seeds
- 0.5 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 5 Kashmiri Chillies
- 2 tsp Salt
- 300 gram Yogurt
Rice & Garnish
- 750 gram Basmati Rice
- 100 gram Ghee
- 200 gram Fried Onions
- 150 gram Fried Cashews
For the Fish
- Clean the pomfret, chopping off the head. You can either keep the pomfret whole or cut into 2 big pieces based on your preference
- Marinate the pomfret in salt, lemon juice and dhansak masala, ideally overnight but otherwise atleast for a couple of hours
- At the time of serving or just prior to that, shallow fry the pomfret. Make sure the oil is very hot so that the pomfret skin does not stick to the pan. Do not overcook - it only takes 2 or 3 minutes either side as pomfret is a very delicate fish
- In a pan, add the ghee. Add in all the masala ingredients except for the salt and yogurt. Roast these until the aroma of the whole spices is released
- In a food processor, blend together the roasted masala, yogurt and salt. If you plan on making the pulao later, you can make this spice blend and freeze it for upto 15 days as well.
- Cook the basmati rice until it is 3/4 cooked
- Fry the fish as per the instruction above and set aside
- In a pan, heat the ghee and add in the pulao masala. Once it is simmering, add in the rice and mix well. Use a silicon spatula when mixing to ensure the rice grain does not break. Check the rice for salt, adding more if needed. Cook until the rice is tender to eat.
- To serve, in a big pot, add in the rice, fish oil and fried onion in layers. Just prior to serving, top the pulao with the fried pomfret
- Garnish with the fried cashews and freshly chopped coriander. Serve with a raita of your choice or the traditional Dhansak Dal - the latter may be a bit too heavy on the palate so I recommend just the raita!