I was reluctant to try this recipe because morel mushrooms aren’t exactly a dime a dozen. Foraging is not an option because I don’t know any mycologists and there’s always that tiny chance of Death by Shotgun if I unknowingly wander into an ex-convict’s backyard.
A Julie Sahni recipe has never steered me wrong, though, so why not?
All of the spices (cumin, cardamom, cloves, and a cinnamon stick) are left whole so the morels don’t get overwhelmed. The pilaf was very fragrant but more delicate than I expected. The first thing you taste is the morels (thank goodness) along with the natural sweetness of the onions.
Badshahi Pulao / Gochian Pulao
The Emperor’s Pilaf / Morel Mushroom Pilaf
makes about 6 to 8 servings
2 cups basmati rice, washed and drained
4 medium onions
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1/2 pound fresh morel mushrooms, halved and cleaned
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
6 whole cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, about 3 inches long
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
- Place the basmati rice in a bowl. Add 4 cups of cold water and soak for about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the water used for soaking.
- Slice 2 of the onions into paper-thin slices (this will be used in the next step). Finely chop the remaining 2 onions.
- Make the Crispy Fried Onions. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Fry the paper-thin onions until dark brown, about 20 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the onions from burning. Remove the onions using a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain. The onions will crisp as they cool.
- In the same pan and oil used to fry the onions, add the cumin seeds and cook for a few seconds over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until light brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the onions from burning.
- Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the morel mushrooms and saute for about 3 minutes, until the morels are fragrant. Add the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaf and continue cooking until the spices are slightly puffed.
- Stir in the drained basmati rice and cook until the rice is thoroughly coated in oil and lightly browned. Add the reserved soaking water and salt. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Cover and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed.
- Reduce the heat to low and let the rice steam for another 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and rest for at least 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the crispy fried onions on top as a garnish and serve with grilled or stewed meats or seafood.