Sunday, May 15, 2011

Moti Pulao {Pearl Pilaf} - Veg & Non-Veg Versions

The first time I had Moti Pulao, was at Amber, a then very well-known restaurant in cental Calcutta. The biryani served here used to be the talk of the town. That was in the '80s and '90s. During those years, Amber was one of the first eateries in the city to serve authentic Mughlai cuisine. Bengal has changed a lot since then, and will further change with the government of 34 years being ousted. For good or bad, I don't know. Anyway, besides this change, I am not really aware of the change in Amber's quality of food now. Going by hearsay, I have come to believe that it is no longer the same. So, Amber remains well etched in my childhood memories of family dinners.

Sundays, I mostly try to make something elaborate and more than ordinary. Unless I woke up with a lazy mood, that is. So, this time, Moti Pulao it shall be, I decided. Well, the process to make it is a little extended, I admit. That's beacuse you need to hold your patience while making those little motis. However, by any means, every minute of effort will be worth it once you are done and get the irresistable aroma of this rice recipe. The distinctive smell of spices and ghee when blended together is definite to make you feel good about taking the effort.

Pearl Pilaf

The pulao gets its name from the tiny meat or paneer balls which when covered with chandi varq (edible silver leaves) look like little pearls or moti, as you would call in Hindi.

Of late, I find readers and friends asking for a vegetarain version of many non-vegetarian recipes I have posted. So, to make life easier for everyone, I am writing the vegetarian version of this Moti Pulao as well. Also, I shall try to give a vegetarain version of a dish, whenever possible.

For printable version of this recipe, click here.

Moti Pulao {Pearl Pilaf} Veg and Non-Veg Versions

Vegetarian Version

- Cottage cheese (paneer) 100 gm

- Cashewnut powder 5 tbsp.

- Cornflour 3 tbsp.

- Chandni varq (edible silver leaves) 2 sheets

- Oil to fry the motis

- Salt as per taste

Non-Vegetarian Version

- Mutton/chicken mince 250 gm

- Red chilli powder 1 tsp.

- Ginger and garlic paste 1 tsp.

- Roasted cumin powder 1/2 tsp.

- Biryani masala 1 tsp.

- Finely chopped coriander leaves 2 tbsp.

- Cornflour 2 tsp.

- Ghee 1 tsp.

- Biryani essence 2 drops (optional)

- Chandni varq (edible silver leaves) 2 sheets

- Oil to fry the motis

- Salt as per taste

For Pulao

- Basmati rice 2 cups (soaked in water for half and hour, drained)

- Whole spices (small cardamoms 6 nos, large cardamoms 2 nos, cloves 6 nos,

cinnamon stick 2 one inch sticks)

- Cumin seeds 1 tsp.

- Tomatoes 2 nos, small sized, finely chopped

- Onion 2 nos, medium sized, sliced

- Yogurt 1/2 cup, beaten

- Ghee 4 tbsp.

- Salt as per taste

Making the paneer balls:

Mix all the ingredients and knead into a smooth dough. Shape into tiny balls, a little larger in size than peas.

Heat oil in kadai and deep fry the balls on meduim heat till they turn golden brown in colour. Remove onto an absorbent kitchen napkin. Let it cool. Cover the balls in silver varq. The mostis are ready.

Making the meat balls:

Mix all the ingredients for the motis. Shape into tiny balls, a little larger in size than peas.

Heat oil in kadai and deep fry the balls on meduim heat till tender, approximately for about 10 minutes.

Remove onto an absorbent kitchen napkin. Let it cool. Cover the balls in silver varq. The mostis are ready.

Making the Pulao (Same both both the versions):

Heat ghee in a pan and fry the chopped onions till they are transparent. Add the whole spices, cumin seeds and salt. Stir for a minute. Then add the chopped tomatoes. Cook on high heat for about 5 minutes.

Add the beaten yogurt, mix well and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the rice along with 3 1/2 cups of water. Cover and cook till done.

Transfer cooked rice to a platter and garish with fried meat balls/paneer balls. Serve hot.



  1. awesome... iam a fan of paneer and this is new and different recipe... love it...

  2. I've never tried this so far! It looks awesome in the pics!

  3. Looks delicious .Nice pics

  4. Wow...never heard of this recipe! This is awesome! Clicks are gorgeous too. Book marked!!

  5. Hi Arundathi,
    Some awards are waiting for you at my space, so plz drop by my blog and collect them, as you deserve it..

    Glad to follow you..


  6. Yummy pulao and beautiful presentation

  7. Both versions looks absolutely marvellous and inviting..

  8. Pulao looks simply delicious and tempting. Clicks look great as well .

    Hamaree Rasoi

  9. his recipe holds a pecial plac in m heart as this is what I cooked for him on our first anniversary. beautifully prepared Arundhati.

  10. Thanks everyone! :)

    @ Prathima, thank you so much for thinking of me for the awards. Really appreciate it. :)

    @ Sayantani, that's so sweet, recollecting what you cooked for your hubby on your first anniversary.

  11. Beautifully prepares and the presentation is simply wonderful:)

  12. Inspite of being a Bengali, I heard about about this delicious preparation for the first time.. It is definitely a gr8 recipe.. thnks for sharing..

    Sunanda's Kitchen

  13. Nice recipe,beautiful click! Loved your wooden bowl and the laddle !

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. wow aru.. this is soo tempting and i love your wooden bowl and spoon..!!
    Renu's Foodigest

  16. Looks fantastic ~ I could devour it all in no time :)) The pics are simply stunning!
    US Masala

  17. I have never had this pulao , it sounds and looks so yummy.

  18. Wow pulao looks so to me.

  19. Yum, the pilaf sounds very delicious.

  20. Hii....have got my first set of awards and sharing it with you. Pl come over and accept :-)


  21. Totally love pulaos and yours is a very interesting version Arundhuti!! Yum!! I am waiting for Sunday so that I can try it out :)


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