When children suffer from hunger or don’t get proper nutrition, especially in the ﬁrst 1,000 days of life, it causes long-lasting damage. India has one of the world’s highest child malnutrition rates — which combines the number of children who are stunted (short for their age), wasted (too thin for their height), and overweight. These can lead to children dying before their ﬁfth birthday.
According to “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World,” across India:
- 34.7% of children under 5 are stunted.
- 17.3% of children under 5 are wasted.
- 1.6% of children under 5 are overweight.
To combat malnutrition and help children not only live but thrive, World Vision staff in India provide vegetable seeds and training to help people grow community gardens so healthy produce is readily available and also free, so it doesn’t cut into a household’s limited budget. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these gardens have been a lifeline for families in more remote areas who’ve had trouble accessing food and supplies.
World Vision also helps train mothers on how to create healthy, nutrient-rich food — such as vegetable pulao — for their families. Our staff in India hosted a cooking demonstration, and we wanted to share the video and recipe with you to try with your family.
Vegetable pulao ingredients:
- ½ cup green peas
- 1 potato, peeled
- 1 small bunch of green beans
- 1 carrot
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes
- 3 onions
- ½ cup mint, chopped
- ½ cup coriander leaves, chopped
- 2 to 3 green chile peppers (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of ginger–garlic paste (1 ½ teaspoons ginger and 1 ½ teaspoons garlic, mashed and combined)
- 1 cup coconut milk (optional)
- 3 tablespoons oil (sunflower, sesame, or olive is preferred)
- 1 tablespoon ghee (optional — if omitting, use another tablespoon of oil)
- 2 cardamom leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ½ cups long-grain rice (or any kind you prefer)
- 2-3 cups water (Use 3 if not using the coconut milk)
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt (optional)
- 1 lemon for garnish (optional)
- ½ cup cashews (optional)
- Pickled fruit or vegetable for garnish (optional)
- Chop all the vegetables into small sizes: potato, green beans, carrots, onions, tomatoes, and peas (if in pod still). If using the green chiles, slit the chiles in half lengthwise. If you’d like it to be spicier, you can add a third chile. Set the vegetables aside.
- Rinse the rice, and then set aside.
- In a large pot over medium, heat oil and ghee.
- Add cashews and fry until golden brown. Set the nuts aside.
- Add spices to taste to the oil mixture: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaf.
- As the spices start to burst, remove cinnamon stick pieces and add 2/3 of the chopped onions. Fry them until they are slightly translucent, but make sure to not over fry.
- Add mint leaves to the mixture and fry until soft.
- Add ginger–garlic paste to the mixture and fry. Continuously stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
- Add tomatoes to the mixture and continue frying until they’re slightly mushy.
- Add the green chiles and salt to taste.
- Add 1 ½ cups of a mixture of the carrots, potatoes, peas, and green beans. Sauté for a few minutes. (Use any combination of the vegetables, but it should equal 1 ½ cups.) Close the lid to cook faster, but open frequently to stir so they don’t stick to the bottom.
- Add salt to taste. Then add the uncooked rice to the pulao and lightly stir.
- Add 2 cups of water to the rice and vegetable mixture. Continue cooking.
- After a couple minutes, add coconut milk to the pulao (optional, or use 1 more cup of water). Cook on high for a few minutes and then reduce heat to low for eight minutes. Be sure to not overcook, or the dish will be mushy.
- While the pulao cooks, add yogurt to the last bit of chopped onions and mix well. Just before serving, add a pinch of salt to the yogurt mixture.
- Stir the pulao one more time, and then plate it. Add the yogurt salad to the side. Garnish with the lemon and cashews. In India, they also garnish with pickled mango, but you can garnish with any pickled fruit or vegetable.