Saturday, July 16, 2011

Yakhni (like) Pulao w ith Green Peas and Chick Peas

To get to a vacation destination these days by plane is not only long but hunger filled and just plain annoying. Even with a bit of planning ours still turned out to be a hungry long one. The only bright spot for me was the sky magazine which had a few very interesting articles. One of those was "Power of Play" an article based on research and a book by Dr.Stuart Brown.

As we grow older we tend to play less. Several things compete for our limited free time and play falls by the wayside. Playing at a young age teaches empathy, adjustment, reaction, avoidance and so many other life skills. We have all read and heard about unstructured play time teaching kids skills that a structured organized play or even education cannot. In other words play makes kids smarter in the real world.

Apparently the same applies for adults as they grow older play keeps them smarter. Companies these days are hiring play consultants to keep their employees smart and engaged with play. Once I read the article and listened to the TED talk here by Dr.Brown it all made sense.

We all know play makes us happy, creative and fulfilled but how many adults take the time to play? It is always amazing to watch adults who just immerse themselves in play with children and become children themselves. Some of us gaze longingly but don't make any move to join the fun. There are others who call that adult having fun crazy. But who is really the crazy. Go Figure right?

But sadly this rethinking play is not only for adults but our overworked over scheduled kids as well. Remember play which involved mixing mud with water and making mud pies. Those apparently are the best kind.

Now on to a serious question. Do you play or more importantly do you encourage your kids to play mud pie kind I mean?

Anyway for play we need time, and to grab some of the the elusive free time and play we need a recipe like the one I have today. A one pot protein filled meal that is quick and easy and gets done in a jiffy.

I first tasted yakhni chicken pulao at my Iranian neighbor's house. The catering company was called Johnny kabob, a Mexican owner for a kabob house specializing in Persian food. I thought that was interesting. I wanted to make this pulao with chicken but on a weekday with a bunch of soaked peas only the vegetarian version had to do. I saw several recipes but this one
Authentic Yakhni Pulao - My Childhood On a Plate was the one that seemed to call to me.

I also did a bit more googling to find out what exactly yakhni meant. It refers to the stock in which the meat are cooked and the broth is used to spice the rice. Since there was no meat involved in the recipe I just added the spiced directly to the sauteing onions.

I have found that using sliced garlic made the cooking faster when compared to garlic paste. In this all the heat comes from the green chilies and the peppercorns. The Kashmiri Red Chili powder is just for the color. I cooked the chickpeas and green peas separately as they require different cooking times. Do what works for you.

Yakhni Pulao
1. 1/2 cup of dried chick peas soaked overnight
2. 1/2 cup of dried green peas soaked overnight
3. 1 1/2 cups of Basmati or any long grained rice
4. 1 cup of thinly sliced onions
5. 2 tbsp of sliced onions
6. 1/2 tbsp of grated ginger
7. 8 green chilies slit
8. 1/2 cups of thick yogurt
9. 1/2 tbsp ghee
10. 2 tsp oil
11. 2 tsp of kashmiri chili powder (for the color) or use saffron
12. salt to taste
13. seasonings: fennel seeds 1 tsp

Spice Powder
1. 1/2 inch cinnamon piece
2. 5 cloves
3. 2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
4. 1 tsp cumin
5. 1/2 tbsp peppercorns
Blend the above to a fine powder

1. Cook the chickpeas and green peas separately as the cooking time vary. Make sure they are not cooked to be too soft as they will cook along with the rice. 3/4th cooking is good. Meanwhile wash and soak the rice for
2. In a pressure heat 1/2 of the ghee and 2 tsp of oil and when hot add the fennel seeds followed by the onions, green chilies and let it cook till the onions are is translucent
3. Add the garlic and and ginger till they are soft (about 3 minutes)
4. Add the powdered spices and give a good mix
5. Add the rice and saute it in the spice for about 6-8 minutes. Keep stirring often to prevent the rice from sticking
6. Add the cooked and drained peas and mix it into the rice gently
7. Add the required amount of water and let it slowly come to a boil
8. Meantime mix in the Kashmiri Chili Powder to the yogurt and whisk till it smooth
and add it to the rice mixture
10. Add salt and the remaining ghee
11. Cook the rice completely on the stove top if you are not using a pressure cooker
else, let it boil till it is 3/4th cooked, put the lid and weight on and cook for 8 minutes. Turn off the heat. When the steam has cooled open and fluff the rice

Serve with sliced cucumbers and yogurt.


  1. Love love rice dishes like these.
    I can't comment anymore as S is over the age if mud playing :-)
    Literally dies kids play anymore in mud :-)

  2. Finla, the question was more for adults. Looks like as adults we need to play as much as kids.

  3. I agreee adults need to play more and it helps kids watch less TV & online games and more family time indeed.
    I made Yakhni Pulao once and the coriander makes the difference I husband ddi not like it much.

  4. I'm bookmarking the recipe!

    I do love to play but my play tends to be mental and creative (sudoku, knitting, crafts, that kind of thing). You reminded me that it is important to participate in physical play too- like jumping and skipping rope perhaps? I need to borrow someone's 6 yr old :)

  5. Though growing up i played a lot with mud, now i mostly "gaze longingly" and dont make a move to join.. But have to admit, the few times i did join, ended up having a lot of fun(though i probably made a fool out of myself). Guess its takes a lot to let go of inhibitions as we get older.
    I have a 3 month old and sincerely wish i will let him play in the mud. I had so much fun playing outside while i was a kid, wish the same for my son as well.
    Yakhni pulao looks yummy, as does most of your recipes!

  6. We got a set of badminton this summer so that we can play with the kids. Has happened only one day so far ! I am not much into playing with mud and guess bs has gone after me. But I do agree with you and sometimes feel very guilty that I don't actively play with my girls.

    Yakhni pulao looks wonderful. Isn't it a pretty involved dish ? I will read through your recipe again and hope will make it

  7. Sandeepa,
    Playing with kids is one thing but adults playing with or without kids is very good apparently.

    Involved? Actually not, it took me less than half hour to finish the whole dish.

    :) Should I send one of mine over?

  8. I've not tasted Yakhni pulao before but reading the ingredients makes it sound very flavorful.
    Hope you are having a fun summer Indo.

  9. Ok i guess sometimes we adults play more than kids as kids these days only play on their games in pc and all the other game things they have which they don't have to move from their room.


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