When my mother got married, Nana, my maternal grandmother, sent her off with some of her favorite recipes, including this one for pulao, written out in a clear Gujarati script. The instructions were precise as to ingredients but vague as to quantity. That was for the cook to figure out.
This is a classic gently flavored Parsi pulao—festive, extravagant, but actually rather easy to execute. All you have to do is allow enough time for the various steps. You can make the meat and the rice in the morning and put the pulao together in the late afternoon. Here, we tend to eat festive rice dishes like this pulao for dinner, but in India, it would be as likely to be served at lunch. Earlier generations of Parsi cooks would have given the pulao its final cooking over a gentle flame with coals on the lid of the pan, a technique that produces the effect of an oven. Many Parsi eaters would insist on accompanying a mild pulao like Nana’s with a complex and highly spiced dal as for dhansak, which I think tends to elbow out the subtlety of rice, saffron, and aromatics. In our house, we like vegetable accents and a basket of toasted Papads. This pulao is lovely the first day but tastes even better the next; if you make it a day ahead, save the frying for just before you serve the dish.