Chana pulao is a beautiful combination of rice cooked in a chickpea (chana or choley) gravy, with mild spices and condiments. It is a true vegetarian wonder and a one-pot recipe that I absolutely love. Chana pulao is a great meal in itself as it combines chickpeas with rice to make it a recipe that requires no extra dishes on the side. Just grab some raita or chutney and you are good to go!
I have been making this chana pulao for many years. My vegetarian friends absolutely love it, but it is a treat for meat lovers as well. It is a beautiful way to make pulao a little differently. The results are just going to make you fall in love with the recipe.
Preparing the chickpeas
Before making this recipe, you will have to soak the chickpeas in water for atleast eight hours. Just leave it in water overnight and tackle it the next day. There are many recipes that say four hours is okay but I feel overnight works best. So make sure you pop some chickpeas in room temperature water just before you go to bed. You can do it on a Friday or Saturday night and make this chana pulao for lunch next day.
Once the chickpeas are soaked in water overnight, they need to be boiled till soft. I like using a pressure cooker as it saves time and gas. You can use a pot too or buy readymade chickpeas, depending on what us available near you. But nothing beats fresh chickpeas just out of water. Using a pressure cooker reduces the time by more than half as the pulse takes long to cook completely. So the time to cook will be more if you boil it in a pot. Just keep an eye on the chickpeas and boil them till you can smash them completely with your fingers or fork.
Making the perfectly fluffy rice
Since a majot ingredient of this recipe is rice, a little extra attention needs to be paid to this grain. I have used long grained basmati rice in this pulao recipe, but you can use any kind of white rice.
To ensure you get the perfectly fluffy and seperate grains of rice, make sure you wash the rice thoroughly. Once washed, soak the rice in room temperature water for 30 minutes before you cook it with the chickpea curry. This step will ensure that the rice blooms to its maximum potential and also remains fluffy and sperated from one another in the pulao. Apart from that, follow the quantity directions as the proportion of rice to water makea a huge difference.
For extra fluffy rice, keep the lid closed for 20 minutes once you turn off the gas. The rice will keep cooking in the heat and bloom beautifully. You should also be careful while mixing it once done. Use a gentle hand so that you do not break the rice or turn it into a mash.
The ingredients for chana pulao
Apart from the chickpeas or chana and rice, there are quite some other ingredients that go into the chana pulao. Do not get intimidated by the list as these spices are required to add a ton of flavour and depth to this recipe. For best results, you should use fresh spices and pastes. For instace, the cumin powder or jeera is homemade and even the tomato paste has been made by grinding fresh, local tomatoes.