Varhadi Pulav/ Maharashtrian Vegetarian Goli Bhaat

I traveled to all parts of the world, but each part of me stayed at my hometown...this is how I feel about my home town, more so with the city than the state. When someone asked me recently what is it that you miss when you travel out the most, I confessed that I miss the food experience. The ease with which I can scout around the familiar places both for ingredients as well as cooked food is something that I terribly miss.

When Valli mentioned cook something from your home town that is not easy to prepare, I did think of the many unknown recipes of the cuisine from my family masterchefs repertoires. My grannies both sides, were amazing cooks. They cooked such elaborate and complicated dishes that one wonders how they managed for years. My granny's bakharwadis were out of the world
Puranpoli seems extremely easy now with the help of equipment and good quality ingredients but back then the filling was ground by hand on stone for hours and the quantities were sufficient to feed an army.
Sabudana wada never failed or burst open even whileI end up thanking God each time I succeed now. 
Alu wadi, zunka wadi, bhakris always stay in place , no cracks or breaks. 
I am not bad at cooking most of the dishes myself but it is never the same. This is also true for some of the dishes that my sisters, sister in law and cousins make, each one has their one special dish. My sister in laws sheera is to die for and she makes it breezily without much planning or fuss. And my sisters make real complicated dishes mostly non vegetarian (chicken only) with equal ease. 
My mother told me once that I am a "rice cooker" not literally but what she meant is that I made better rice dishes as compared to anything I decided to cook an elaborate dish which is today's dish the varhadi bhaat. It is very close to the masala bhaat I prepared here except that it is richer, because as the name indicates it is for the varhad- which is the baraat or the wedding guests.

The preparation for meat based pulav is also done similarly except there is meat instead of besan. Use meat mince of any kind.

2 cups basmati rice
2 tbsp clarified butter/ ghee
salt to taste
1 large onion finely sliced
1 black cardamom
1 bay leaf
1 tspn crushed saffron mixed with water

for masala
1 tbsp dry grated coconut
1 tspn sesame seeds
1 tspn poppy seeds
1 onion finely chopped
1 inch ginger
3 to 4 red chillies
3 to 4 garlic cloves
2 to 3 cloves 
1 tspn black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 inch cinnamon
1 tspn green cardamom
1 star anise
2 tspn coriander seeds
1 tspn cumin seeds
1/2 tspn caraway seeds

for gole (dumplings)
1.5 cup chickpea flour/ besan
1 tspn ginger garlic paste
1 tspn garam masala
1 tspn red chilli powder
1 tspn turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 tspn oil
Oil to deep fry for garnishing
fresh grated coconut
fresh coriander
deep fried cashews
1) Dry roast the masala ingredients (except coriander and green chillies) individually. Use some oil for frying the onions and coconut if required.
2) Grind them in a smooth paste  along with coriander, green chilli and little water and set aside.
3) In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients for gole and mix them well using a tspn of the ground masala paste. Add more water if required, but the mixture should be of dough consistency and not batter
4) Now let it sit for a while
5) Make small balls of the gole. Place them in a steamer to cook for 10 min or until they are done
) Deep fry these steamed goles in oil until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside.
7) Remove and set them aside.
8) For meat based rice, you should use the same oil to cook the rice. For vegetarian it is optional 
9) Now in a large pot, heat some oil. Add the ghee to the oil.
10) Add the chopped onions, black cardamom, bay leaf and saute it.
11) Add the ground masala and saute until it is dry.
12) Next add washed and soaked rice. Stop stirring at this stage
13) Add 4 cups of water and cover the rice. Let it cook for 10 min or until the water it reduced to half.
14) Crush a few golas with your hand to form a coarse mixture.
15) Sprinkle this on the rice. Add fried cashews and also give one gentle stir. At this stage traditionally another 2 ladles of ghee are also added.
1) Cover the let it cook until it is done and there is no water.
17) The last few minutes should be done uncovered.
18) Now place the remaining golas on top and sprinkle large batch of fresh coconut and coriander.

Compared to  the traditional rice biryani recipes, this one has distinctive flavors of coconut based gravy and also there are no souring and sweetening agents. This is a spicy concoction and is best served with buttermilk based side dishes like kadhi or matta. Usually ended with shrikhand or boondi laddoo or aamras.


Unknown said…
This is so new to me... never even heard of it.. am so glad that I am learning so much about various state cuisine with this BM.. Rice cooker - lol:)
Srivalli said…
That surely looks amazing Pradyna..what a lovely rice..will surely bookmark this!
Pradnya I am not familiar with this rice..looks interesting...surely you got us a new ..brand new recipe from Maharashtra!..good job..and hey Happy Birthday:))
Priya Suresh said…
I felt the same when we are supposed to cook from our region, am just asking all my family members give me a tips to cook for my place, can guess urs. Varhadi pulav looks very flavourful, filling and incredible one pot meal.
New one for me. Lot of work but it looks great! I must try it.
Gayathri Kumar said…
The bath looks super inviting Pradnya..
Harini R said…
Very flavorful and a new one.
Pavani said…
Thanks for sharing a traditional dish from your state Pradnya. I'm a bi fan of biryanis and I'm sure the family will also like this version.
Chef Mireille said…
all the spices in the masala and those wonderfully golas must make these taste awesome
Sounds new to me,must be a flavorful one with all the spices..
That is one elaborate recipe and I am sure it would be worth the effort. What a lovely recipe :)
Usha said…
Looks like a flavorful rice. It is an elaborate preparation. I would not mind trying the non-veg version of this rice. Must have tasted great with all those spices. Good one.
Padmajha said…
So nice of you to choose this recipe. Looks so nice in spite of the lengthy ingredient and prep list.I love to make rice dishes and this will be feature soon on our table :)
Thanks for shaaring traditional dishes as well as for tips..

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