Its that time of year when morel mushrooms start popping up in the woods to be foraged. Sure enough we found some at the farmers market. Since these can only be foraged and not grown or cultivated they are limited in quantity and thus demand a mighty price. We paid about 15$ for a quarter of a pound, it yielded us about 8 mushrooms.
Curiously they are found in northern parts of india like himachal pradesh and kashmir and called guchchi’s. When i had chatted with our friend Rupika about indias treasure of mushrooms i had made a self note to use the morels for an indian dish this season.
So when we chanced upon some morels i decided to make a morels pulao. We soaked the long grain aged basmati rice for half hour. We started by sauteeing the morels in butter till they were warm and imparted some of their flavors to the butter. We removed the morels and sauteed the rice in this mushroom flavored butter.
Pulao’s from the northern area of india are positioned as sweet but sometimes i feel they are stereotyped and served overly sweet outside these regions.
We decided to not use any cream or sugar but instead use sweet spices – cloves and cinnamon. We also added some fennel seeds and pepper for the aromatics.
It comes out as a very earthy pulao with mushrooms, so we wanted some acidity like the barberries if persian pulaos. Sure enough we did not have them on our hands. So instead we used some fantastic wisconsin dried cherries chopped up and sauteed them in the same butter. We also wanted to add some pine nuts to stay in tune with the nutty flavor but also to add some texture. We did not have them on hand either, so we added charolya, a pinenut like nut commonly used on indian dessert called shrikhanda.
We added 1.2 cups water to the sauteed cup of rice, spices and cherries and charolya. We brought the water to a simmer and turnedheat to low -medium.
We covered pan with a towel and put on a lid tight and then cooked for 10 mins but let it rest 20 mins without removing pan afterwards.
This method really works for a pulao and deserves another post. I learnt about this from two different people around the same time. Both Gregor and Uday are dear friends and offer great cooking tips. Just around the time i was seeing Gregor cook this in germany Uday had written about a similar technique he uses. I talked to both of them and now use this way whenever i want to cook a simple pulao. Works always. Its great when your friends in distant lands think and cook similarly showing how food can always bring a common theme.
We finish the pulao by topping with the sauteed Morels. It turned out to be a fantastic, nutty and aromatic pulao with subtle flavors. Can’t wait to get hold of another handful of morels.