My maternal grandma was a fabulous cook. I remember, when I was in my teens, Bhai fo(n)ta was celebrated at her place in a big way and this polao made by her was the star attraction. The name ‘Aakhni’ comes from extracts of different types of aromatic masalas mixed in water and this water is used to cook the rice to make polao/pulao. Grandma is no more, but whenever I cook this polao, I subconsciously touch her feet before starting the preparation. The end result is not of her quality, but it is not bad either.
- Gobinda bhog Rice – 2 cups(a type of rice)
- Bay leaves – 4
- Ghee – 2 tbsp
- White Oil – 3 tbsp
- Kismis – 1 handful(raisins)
- Kaju – 1 handful(cashews)
- Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
- Salt and Sugar – As required
For Aakhni ( Masala Water)
- Coriender seeds-1 tbsp
- Cumin seeds-1 tsp
- Black cardamom-2
- Green cardamom-5
- Bay leaves-3
- Cinnamon-1 inch
- Black pepper-1 tsp
Wash the rice thoroughly and dry it by spreading it on a plate. Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp ghee and turmeric powder to dried rice and mix them.
Tie all the Aakhni ingredients in a soft cotton cloth( preferably white). Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan and put the tied cloth into it to boil for some more time. The aroma of spices will be infused to the water and water will turn brownish-orange in color.
Add oil together with the remaining ghee in a kadai. When it is sufficiently hot, add bay leaves and whole garam masalas(cloves,green cardamom,cinnamon) to it. When the masalas splutter, add the rice, kismis & kaju and fry well till all the grains are well coated with ghee and become translucent.
Add aakhni water and boil. Rice should absorb the water very quickly.
Add some more hot water to the rice. The amount of water used is very important here as it should be enough to be absorbed by the rice completely. If it is more than that, the rice will be over done and your pulao will become sticky, which you would not like. Cover the kadai with a heavy lid and boil for 10 minutes or till the rice is almost done.
Check the salt and adjust it if required. Add 1 tbsp sugar ( more if you like) to the rice and mix well with a fork. Be very gentle while doing this. Now cover the lid and reduce the temperature to very minimum. Keep it for 10 more minutes. Your aakhni pulao is ready. Serve it with your favorite side dish and some sweet aachaar.