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Recipe & Food Styling | Orange scented Dry fruits Shahi Pulao – Passion creates positive energy

27 April 2015 3 Comments

Orange scented Dry fruits Shahi Pulao

Passion creates positive energy and we feed on that energy to stay motivated. ~ #onlineread

I am blessed by a number of things I love to do. Painting, travelling, cooking, reading, sketching, gardening, photography and many such activities. I do not find my diverse interest as a dilemma and love to engage myself in some of these activities whenever time permits.

But – well, there exists another life. A real world, where there is a laundry to be cleared, grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, a hungry family to feed, activity classes for children and the never ending list of mundane daily chores.

No, I won’t name all my pending tasks at hand, as summer vacations for children have started and I am living on hopes 🙂

Hmm…if only wishes were horses….a mail and two phone calls and my list of pending chores is already threatening to escalate out of control.

I have been a strict follower of task-reward theory from my childhood days, which is nothing but a way to trick yourself in doing tasks which are relatively boring to do.

Trying to alternate a mundane job (household work) with an interesting task (styling assignments) always brings joy and act as a reward or motivation.

Food blogging and styling assignment is one such activity which recharges my body and brain, an activity where I can easily get lost in time and space and forget to even eat, drink or sleep.

And so, keeping my long list of to-do-works aside, I accepted and started working on yet another interesting food styling assignment last week.

Recipe & Food Styling | Orange scented Dry fruits Shahi Pulao

Rice cooked, labeled and packed individually in separate containers….I had never seen or cooked so many varieties of Basmati rice before…white Sella, Sella golden, traditional, classic,  steamed Basmati and so on.

I had an assignment to cook and style 8 different varieties of branded Indian Basmati rice last week. The shoot was Prateek Singhi.

My day started quite early cooking breakfast and lunch for children and hubby and then cooking the rice according to the instructions given by the client.

Recipe & Food Styling | Orange scented Dry fruits Shahi Pulao

I had to take care that the cooked rice should look camera friendly with long grains, perfect texture, good colour and which could sustain the long hours of shooting and heat.

I cooked, packed and labeled individual variety of rice in different boxes.

Recipe & Food Styling | Orange scented Dry fruits Shahi Pulao

Making every grain of rice count… the power to present food in the most artistic way is truly rewarding.
Recipe & Food Styling | Orange scented Dry fruits Shahi Pulao

A quick click from my phone from the work area…

Recipe & Food Styling | Orange scented Dry fruits Shahi Pulao

Decking up the dish for the next shot…I was literally segregating each perfect looking rice grain and placing it one by one using a fork.

The client had informed me to avoid onion, garlic, spices and root vegetables and wanted me to emphasize more on the texture and colour of long grains. I had to avoid excess garnish yet make the recipe look mouth-watering at the same time.

And after a marathon of cooking various rice recipes for the photo-shoot children demanded something exotic with the leftover export quality rice at home.

I waited for the weekend and cooked this delicious Orange scented Indian pulao with loads of dried and fresh fruits. I was planning to make the Jaipuri Mewa pulao which is a dessert recipe served during special occasions in Rajasthan. But changed the idea and made a savory version instead as my family is not conformable with sweet recipe with rice.

Packed with nuts, fresh fruits and infused with saffron and various Indian spices, this rice dish is perfect for party menu or for a holiday treat.

So with handful of assorted nuts, fresh fruits and a fragrant Basmati rice, a quick Shahi Pulao was on the menu.

Orange scented Dry fruits Shahi Pulao

Recipe & Food Styling | Orange scented Dry fruits Shahi Pulao

(serve 3)

  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup assorted nuts and fruits:
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp Ghee or Olive oil
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 3 garlic pearls
  • 3 green chilies
  • 2 tbsp. warm milk
  • 4-5 Saffron strands
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • Few mint leaves
  • Salt to taste


  • 2 cloves
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 small bay leaf

Recipe & Food Styling | Orange scented Dry fruits Shahi Pulao

Method: Wash the Basmati rice and soak it in clean water for 20 minutes or more.

Soak saffron strands in warm milk for 10 minutes.

I added an assortment of the following nuts and fruits in the recipe.

  • Cashew nuts
  • Almonds
  • Raisins
  • Pineapple pieces

Finely slice the onion and grate ginger. Slit the green chilies into two.

Grate the peel of orange and squeeze to take out the juice in a cup.

Heat ghee or Olive oil in a large wok or kadai and quickly fry cashew nuts and almonds for a minute and take them out in a small bowl.

Add cloves, cardamom pods, star anise and bay leaf in the same oil and sauté for a few seconds.

Add sliced ginger, chopped garlic, slit green chilies and sauté for another minute.

Drain the water from the rice, add the rice, raisins, sugar and salt in the wok and combine lightly to coat each grain with ghee or oil.

Pour warm water and orange juice in the wok, cover the wok with a lid and let it cook on medium heat 7-8 minutes.

Add roasted cashew nuts, almonds and soaked saffron strands with milk in the wok, stir lightly and cover again.

Cook for another 2-3 minutes or till the rice is cooked and water is absorbed completely.

Garnish with chopped mint leaves, pineapple pieces and grated orange zest.

Serve this flavorful pulao with yogurt raita or any Indian curry.


  1. Replace orange juice with plain water if you wish.
  2. Add seedless grapes, small chunks of apples and pomegranate seeds to enhance the colour and taste of the recipe.
  3. Try substituting the orange juice with pineapple for yet another wonderful flavor in the recipe.
  4. Use good quality saffron for better aroma and colour. If you don’t have saffron in hand, use food grade orange colour or turmeric to get the same visual appeal to your rice.
  5. I added a few fresh peas and capsicum in the recipe.
  6. Use the best quality long grain Basmati rice for the recipe.
  7. Let the Pulao rest for 3-4 hours for the flavors of saffron to infuse in the recipe completely.
  8. Do not over stir the rice after adding saffron milk in it to get the beautiful mix of white and saffron rice.


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  • Shiny Velayudan said:

    Hi Sanjeeta,

    Amazing recipe and wonderful photography as always. I have a doubt. How much water needs to be added to the rice while cooking.


  • sanjeeta kk (author) said:

    @Shiny, one cup plain water and a cup of orange juice is good enough to get fluffy rice.

  • mjskitchen said:

    Sanjeeta, I don’t know how you do it. Keeping a blog going it enough work for me. 🙂 Here you are managing to raise two kids, be a wonderful wife, maintain a blog AND take one huge styling project where you have to cook, style and shoot. You’re amazing as always. Your photos are gorgeous and really make me want to grab a fork and start eating that rice. What a lovely rice dish! Love the recipe!

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