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Carrot Zarda


This post is sponsored by Authentic Royal Foods.

Rice is symbolic of prosperity in Indian culture and an integral part if all our festivals.Right from childhood, I can hardly remember any celebrations when rice wasn’t cooked on auspicious days. From festive pulaos to kheer to soaking and grinding rice and using it for decorations of the prayer room, it has always been in every way imaginable.

Diwali is a little over two weeks away and around this time of the year, I start jotting down our Diwali Menu. Over years our menu has evolved into a beautiful amalgamation of old traditional recipes and flavors that I eat and experience around here in the States.Any festival menu in our house is incomplete without basmati rice dishes prepared and my go to always has been royal basmati rice.

Diwali is a little over two weeks away and around this time of the year, I start jotting down our Diwali Menu. Over years our menu has evolved into a beautiful amalgamation of old traditional recipes and flavors that I eat and experience around here in the States.Any festival menu in our house is incomplete without basmati rice dishes prepared and my go to always has been royal basmati rice.

In this recipe I combine the flavors of classic american carrot cake with indian meethe chawal or zarda. Ghee sautéed shredded carrots, orange zest, pecans, candied pineapple and warm spices like nutmeg and cinnamon bubble with long grain basmati rice and sugar syrup filling the air of house with enticing aroma. If you serve this wing a dollop of whipped cream cheese(which you totally should),it leaves you with the warm fuzzy feeling after eating a moist carrot cake.

Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 1 cup authentic royal basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/8 tsp food color – orange, yellow whichever you wish

For the Tempering

  • 2 tbsp + 1/3 cup ghee
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar + 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole milk, warm
  • 10-12 saffron strands infused in 1 tbsp of warm milk
  • 1 tsp fresh grated orange zest
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/3 cup pecan halves
  • 1/3 cup whole cashews
  • 1/3 cup candied pineapple, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • Fresh ground nutmeg, a generous pinch
  • Pomegranate arils for garnish
  • Extra nuts for garnish.

Method

Wash rice under 2-3 streams of running water. Set aside.

In a large pot bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add pinch of salt and add washed rice to the pot.Stir gently and boil for 8 minutes on low medium till rice is 90% cooked.

While the rice is boiling, start prepare the tempering however keep an eye on rice. In a shallow wide, non stick pot /kadai (with lid), first saute the cashews & pecans in a 1 tablespoons of ghee until they are toasted. Transfer to a bowl. Next, add another tablespoon of ghee and add the pineapple and raisins, saute them for just few seconds. Take out in the same bowl as the nuts. Se aside.

On the second stove, set a large tawa or cast iron griddle (larger than the pot you are using for zarda) to heat up. We will use it for dum cooking.

Add 1/3 cup of ghee to the pan. Once the ghee is warm, reduce heat to low and temper it with cinnamon and cloves. Saute for about 20 seconds till you smell the aroma. Next add the carrots and saute for 1-2 minutes. By this time rice would be 90% done, strain the rice. Immediately add the rice to the kadai layering it over the the carrots (do not dump). Add the orange zest and sprinkle both kinds of sugar. Also add the warm milk. Very gently, using a spatula, mix the rice to mix with everything. Cover with a tight lid.

By this time, the cast iron griddle or tawa would have been heated. Place the rice pot/kadai on it and set the stove to low(not very low). Let dum cook for 20-25 minutes till rice is cooked. This time will depend on quality of your rice, please adjust from experience.

Add the nuts and saffron milk next along with pinch of nutmeg. Don’t stir. Cover the lid and let dum cook for another 5-8 minutes. Switch off the stove, take the kadai off the griddle and leave undisturbed for atleast 20 minutes.

Fluff gently with rice spoon from a side and mix everything. Serve it warm in a wide dish garnished with more nuts, pomegrante arils or however you wish.

Enjoy!

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