Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Aakhnir Jol Diye Rui Mach'er Pulao/Yakhni Fish Pulao

A small girl was curiously watching her father working in kitchen. Her mother is smiling and was helping her little brother and sister to do their homework. The cool, soothing wind was coming from the cooler fan. And some cut water-melons were neatly placed over the dining table. Summer days meant watermelons and turning the cooler for her.And her father would definitely help her mother in cooking. Her little brother who seemed to be impatient, was trying to grab one of those delicious water-melons kept in a bamboo fruit basket .Whenever he would try to do that, her mother would gently tap a pencil over his hand and swing it in the air and nod her head in a firm NO and then point it over the note-copy to finish doing his home-work. Her brother with no choices left would make faces to her and would start again doing his homework. Her cute, chubby, little sister would burst into innocent, childish laughter seeing all these.
Little girl-“Baba, ki banacho tumi?”- What are you making father?
Baba-“oh! Manu ,I am making yakhni pulao”
Little girl blinking her wide eyes-“ki yaakh-yaakhhni pu-pull lao, seyita ki hoye” it seemed a tongue twister and an alien word to her.
Baba-“Tumi aro ekto boro hole janbe” you will come to know when you grow a little bit more.
Little girl still amused , decided to hang out in kitchen some more time and saw her baba so enthusiastically assemble the pulao.She was assigned the job to peel onion. While peeling an onion, tears started flowing down from her eyes easily. Her father quickly came to rescue and wiped the tears coming out. He took away the onions and washed them well in running tap water. He then gave them to the little girl and assured her it won’t bother her now. It didn’t make her cry anymore after that, she was again amused. That day she saw another hidden, soft part of her baba/father which she was totally unaware of.
In a foreign land, that little girl now a married lady with a curious daughter like her is trying her hand in making that old yakhni pulao.
Her 5 year old daughter, mischievoiusly playing with her dupatta-“Eyi ta ki banacho mamma?” What are you making mother?
She could feel that life does come a full circle. Another generation is getting ready to carry the legacy forward. Her little girl had decided to hang out some more time in the kitchen and had picked some onions to peel. She, this time smiling, quickly washed them in running water and gave it to her daughter.

Yesterday made rui mach’er pulao, so thought of posting it. I was trying to capture each step of this pulao while making it. Hope you will find this post useful. I have heard so much about aakhnir jol /aromatic water for preparing pulaos that I decided to make it this way. I have told you about an Old Bengali book that I have, I consulted that book. Although I picked the basic of making aakhnir jol, but added many more other ingredients to make this pulao even more flavourful.

This recipe is adapted from that book. Also I have seen baba (my father)  making pulao with another way. He used to make a potli/small bag of sort, out of plain cotton cloth/muslin cloth and would generally stack up all the aromatic garam masala in it , tie it well and then would keep that potli simmering in water ,that aromatic water he would then use up in making pulao.Then he would usually keep the pulao cooking over dum(covering with the lid and placing a heavy thing ,usually a noraof Bengali -"sheel nora"- a kind of mortar-pestle type of thing ) at low flame or sometimes when he would have time, he would seal the lid with kneaded wheat flour dough. That pulao would turn out so flavorful that I don’t have words to explain here. This pulao reminded me of that delicious pulao.Oh! And I happen to confirm this , he told me thats call "dum style of cooking" ...

I managed to make it this time in oven which actually is quite similar to dum style of cooking ...and I have planned to make it the other way over stop-top next time also. Now to the recipe -

Aakhnir jol diye Rui mach’er pulao /Yakhni Fish Pulao
Recipe requirements

For the Aakhnir Jol/Aromatic Water
3-4 cups of water
10-12 cloves/lobongo
2 big cardamoms/boro elaich
2 stick cinnamon/dalchini
Some twigs of jaitri/mace
10-12 black pepper /gota morich
2 tsp of cumin powder
2 tsp of coriander powder
2 tsp of garam masala
2 tsp of black pepper powder
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 medium size onion chopped finely ( Usually many times onions and garlic is avoided in proper traditional cooking )

Prepare aakhnir jol/Aromatic water

Bring a pot with 3-4 cups of water to a boil and then add all the above listed ingredients for the aromatic water/aakhnir jol
For the fish gravy
1 tsp of turmeric powder+1 tsp of turmeric powder (for the fish gravy)
1 -2 tsp of salt
2 tsp of red pepper powder
2tbs of cooking oil
Marinate fish pieces in ground turmeric and salt. Keep aside for 30 mints.
Now heat up a frying pan/deep bottom pan and add cooking oil.
Fry each fish pieces each side for 3-4 mints.
Now in that oil itself, add 1 cup of water, add turmeric, red pepper powder and salt. Add in fried fish pieces and cover with lid .Let it simmers for sometimes-5-8 mints at med-low.
Meanwhile the fish gravy is being cooked. Let’s assemble the rice for the pulao

Recipe requirements for fish pulao
2 cups of basmati rice/gobindo bhog rice
2 medium size onions chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger chopped
2-3 bay leaves
2-3 tsp of mixed garam masala ingredients whole like mace/dalchini/cloves/black pepper
2 -3 tbs of ricotta cheese
1 tbs of good quality milk powder
¼ cup of shelled pistachios
½ cup of cashews
¼ cup of raisins
½ cup of desiccated coconut/fresh scraped coconut
1 tbs of yogurt
1 tsp of sugar
Salt as per taste
1 tbs of cooking oil+1 tbs of cooking oil+1 tbs of cooking oil

Wash rice thoroughly in water for 2-3 times. Soak it in water for 30 mints; meanwhile work on the aakhnir jol /aromatic water and frying fish pieces etc.

Coarsely chop cashews and pistachios .Heat up a cooking pan or big enough to hold the entire contents listed above. Add oil and fry cashews pistachio pieces till they turn golden. Take out in a separate bowl.

Mix in ricotta cheese and milk powder in a glass.TIP-This makes our instant khoya.If you have fresh khoya then that would be added advantage.
Add 1 tbs of cooking oil in that pan itself, fry the ricotta cheese+ milk powder mixture at low till they turn nice brown in colour.

Add in desiccated coconut( Wish I had some fresh coconut ,I would suggest if you have the option then use fresh coconut ).Fry some more time and take it out after shallow frying.
Now add in 2 tabs of cooking oil, add bay leaf, add chopped garlic, ginger and fry them well for 5 mints till they turn out nice golden.

Add in chopped onions ,, fry till they turn out nice brown.

  Add fried ricotta cheese mixture and cashews and pistachio. Fry them well for another 5 mints. Add 1 tbs of plain yogurt.

Add in soaked rice and keep frying for another 5-7 mints.

and keep frying rice with the masala till they get evenly mix , say about 5-8 mints.Keep the flame at med-low.

Now assemble the pulao
Preheat the oven at 190 deg Celsius (fan assisted).
Now take out the fish pieces. Scoop out some rice mixture and transfer it in oven proof dish or casserole.
Now keep the fish pieces and then again layer rice mixture alternately.

Layer this way till all rice mixture is used up.
Now add in 2 cups of aakhnir jol/aromatic water to it by the sides of the dish. Cover it with foil ,place the dish in the second shelf and bake it for 25 mints. Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle half lemon juice over the baked pulao, mix in gently.Keep it covered.Let it sit there for 1 hr and then serve.Enjoy your delicious rui mach’er pulao.

1. Use khoya in place of ricotta+milk powder mixture. I didn’t have khoya so came up with this instant khoya.
2. I baked mine for 30 mints, thought it was bit more so, I would suggest keeping looking after 25 mints. It would be better to take out when its 22-26 mints from the oven and keeping it covered with foil. That way the rice if there is some uncooked portion will be cooked by the moisture that gets trapped and it will prevent over cooking or soggy rice pulao.Sprinkling some lemon juice will also help.

3. I have made the fish cooked a little bit in some gravy before I added them to fried rice mixture. I do think this way fish absorbs more flavor .If you feel, you may add the fried fish pieces directly to it.

4. Aakhnir jol is one staple way of making pulao more flavourful.Use this aromatic water in any type of meat-based pulao.I do think lamb or mutton pulao will turn out even more flavorful with this.And many times onion+garlic is avoided in preparaing Yakhni water, I have personally liked the use of onions+garlic, in case you like to skip then it's entirely up to you .

One more close look

This post is going to Aquadaze at Serve With Love ,for more details of a very unique and lovely event ,visit this link -- Chalks and Chopsticks .

Happy Cooking Friends


  1. Wonderful recipe dear....ilish macher pula o shunechhi...kintu rui machher pulao notun amar kachhe...the step by step snaps are really very useful...lekha ta o khub shundar...satti satti nijer chhoto bela ta abr phire ashe...phire ashe purono smriti gulo nijer chele meyeder modhye diyei..ami akhon khub bijhchhi sheta...

  2. The Pulao seems yummy!!This is a very new recipe...I have never heard of this before,must really be wonderful!Lovely photos too...jibhe jol chole elo dekhe!:)

  3. Kamalika,
    hain eyi bhabhe ilish mach'er O pulao korte para jaye..I am glad tumaar step-by-step snaps ta bhalo laglo :)..

    hain try kore dekhte paro , bhalo lagbe..thanks ..arey tumaar site e te word verification hoche na , comment rakhte parlaam na last giyechilaam , bolte bhole geche tumaye ..
    hugs and smiles

  4. Hi,
    kemon acho ?:) lekhata pore khub valo laglo, chotobelar smriti romonthan korte o sunte shobsamayei valo laage :)
    ami bodhoy kakhono maccher biriyani/pulao khaini, Ilish biriyani-r kotha sunechi. eita daarun dekhte hoyeche ar thank you for the detailed description and pics.
    kono ek samay try korbo... :)
    valo theko ar tomar chotto meyer jonyo roilo anek ador :)

  5. Ami comment korbo na bhebechilam(blog hop korchi na ei week), kintu this is too good. Both lekha and the pulao, wonderful


  6. You've set the atmosphere very well, Jaya! I enjoyed reading this.

  7. Tulip,
    koto din por tumaye eyikhane dekhlaam bolo to :)..jaag
    hain tumaar kaaj thekhe samay baar kore eyi ta try koro , nischoyi bhalo lagbe..Ilish biryani eyi bhabhe korte para jaye , rui mach na diye ilish mach dile hi hobe...

    tumar inspite of tumaar blog break -eyikhane eshe comment chara hi amaar jonne onek boro kotha ...break e relax koro r feel good soon :)..
    hugs and smiles

  8. Sra,
    I am glad you liked it , means a lot to me :)..
    hugs and smiles

  9. Ohh tai bujhi?!Thanks so much for letting me know...I'll sure look into this!Ektu short break'e chhilam tai reply o dilam deri kore...thanks once again dear!

  10. Ebar ekbar try kore dekho to comments rakhte parchho kina...

  11. ekhuni tomar khub sundor comment porlam amar anek purono akta post e. tomar moto sundor moner manushke thanks bolbo na tabe tomar moto blogger friend peye khub bhalo lagche. ki sundor sundor recipe tomar blog e. biscotti ta darun laglo.

    machher polao shunechi anek kintu kakhano banai ni. akhon to step by step recipe peye gelam. korbo akdin bar er jonyo. tomar nostalgic story ta khub sundor. porte porte nijer chhotobelar katha mone pore jachilo.

  12. my apologies jaya that I didn't acknowledge your entry till today...your mail landed in the junk folder!

    Your writing is lovely, I can almost picture the father and daughter converstaion, you've brought it out so well!

    Thank you for the entry.

  13. Very intereasting way of describing a recipe. Never had a machher pulao before and this looks very tempting.

    The first time I had anything in the genre was when i moved to Mumbai and had 'machhi biriyani' at a place called Cafe Noorani

  14. Sayantani,
    welcome and tumaar sathe parichoy holo ,bhalo laglo ..keep in touch :)..

    no probs! and thanks for hosting such a lovely event :).

    hugs and smiles

  15. Knife,
    Thanks for visiting and this one is very delicious.I hope you give it a try sometimes and let me know how it turn out :)...Machi Biryani sounds something similar to kind of Hydrabadi biryani's.Is it anywhere near to them?
    This one(rui mach'er pulao) I realized later is quite similar to Yakhni pulao's from nothern part of India.

  16. Jaya lekha aar pulao both are darun...enjoyed reading it....bookmark korechi:)rui macher pulao...wow you have set my tastebuds tingling!!

  17. Lekhaa aar ranna dutii ii khoob bhalo hoyechhe, machher biryani hoye je jantam naa. shundor hoyechhe post taa...bhalo laglo pore.

  18. Saswati,
    oh! try korbe ,bhalo lagbe ..thanks for coming.

    sotti,tumi bolle onek utsaho barey.onek din por ele..Sab bhalo to?

    hugs and smiles

  19. Jaya, I am trying this recipe of yours for dinner today, I never mad ekhoys, will be the first time...
    Baniye, kheye kemon turn out korlo kal janabo :)

  20. This looks so yum, Jaya!

    Never had rui maacher yakhni pulao. Muri/Mudi Ghonto is the closest I have come to having a "fish pulao". Kalke Bangladeshi store jachchi, hopefully get some good Rui from there.

  21. It worked out well, delicious - Sumana.
    (didn't log in due to time crunch)

  22. Pree,
    hain you can always get good rui fish from Bangladeshi or even chinese stores.Try korte paro , bhalo lagbe..

    kono bapar nei.I also prefer Real life first always..So happy to know you tried and liked it :).
    hugs and smiles

  23. amaar ma etaar ekta variation banato . Khub bhalo laglo porey . Souds absolutely yummy

  24. Eve's Lung,
    Kerom banato amader sathe share koro na.Thanks for coming here.
    hugs and smiles

  25. Lovely notun dish. Ekbar try kore dekhte hobe. Have you made this with any other fish as rui is not readily available?

  26. Tania,
    na I haven't made it with any other fish..I do think any firm fish steak will work good here.May be you can try it with cat-fish or tilapia fillets..salmon e smell hoye janina seyi ta bhalo hobe ki na.Try korle janabe :).
    hugs and smiles

  27. Lovely story.. and incredibly great looking pulav! I'll be back for this! Thanks! Cheers!

  28. That's amazing ! I would never think of using Aakhnir Jhol for fish pulao ! It looks so tempting, too. Thanks for sharing.


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