Pulao Masala is a special spice blend used all over India and the rest of the Indian subcontinent as a flavorant while preparing pulao (a flavored rice based dish). This special blend of spice is used in very small quantity at the end of cooking or is fried in the beginning of cooking which adds a wonderful, aromatic and subtle flavor to the cooked rice. Pulao Masala is mainly added to those flavored rice like the vegetable pulao, egg pulao, chicken pulao etc.
Pulao masala is made with a fusion of few spices which includes Star anise (badyani), bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and pepper corns. Pulao masala helps in recreating the mixed flavors of all the whole spices used in a pulao without roasting and grinding them individually.
Now days there are several commercial manufacturers who prepare and sell readymade Pulao masala which can be bought at any super market. But these types of readymade spice powders do not retain their flavor for long as whole spices always are much fresh better and retains their flavors for longer times.
It is always best to use freshly roasted spices as their flavors are fresh and enhances the taste of the dish to a great extent. Authentic Indian cuisine is well known for its sophisticated use of spices and herbs. The spices used in making the Pulao masala are highly aromatic, naturally fresh and when added to various dishes gives out it aroma in making the dish taste wonderful. Indian cooking is popular for various spice mix powders like the garam masala, dhania-jeera powder, five spice powders, groundnut dry chutney powder, curry leaf powder, gun powder – milagai podi, rasam powder etc.
In Persian, star anise is called badian, hence its French name badiane. In northern India it is called badian khatai. It is said that its origin is a place called Khata in China. In Malay it is called "Bunga Lawang". It is widey used in Malay cooking. Star anise enhances the flavor of meat.
It is used as a spice in preparation of Biryani, pulao all over the Indian subcontinent. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, in Indian cuisine where it is a major component of garam masala, and in Malay and Indonesian cuisine. Star anise lends its strong flavors to Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese cooking. Star anise is the dried, star-shaped fruit of an oriental evergreen tree. It has a strong, sweet, aniseed-like aroma and flavor. They're often used in Asian soups and marinades, and are available whole and as a powder from supermarkets and Asian grocery stores.
Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice. It is principally employed in cookery as a condiment and flavoring material. In Indian Cuisine, it is often used in savory dishes of chicken and lamb. Cardamom is commonly known as Elaichi in Hindi.
Green cardamom is extensively used in Indian cooking. It is often used in traditional Indian sweets and in tea, or chai. Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic fragrance. It is a common ingredient in Indian cooking. One of the most expensive spices by weight little is needed to impart the flavor. Cardamom is best stored in pod form, because once the seeds are exposed or ground, they quickly lose their flavor. Black cardamom or "Badi Elaichi" is sometimes used in garam masala for curries.
Lavang (Cloves) they are aromatic dried flower buds. They can be used in cooking either whole or in a ground form, but as they are extremely strong, they are used sparingly. In the north Indian cuisine, it is used in almost every sauce or side dish made, mostly ground up along with other spices.
In the south Indian cuisine, it finds extensive use in the biryani dish (similar to the pilaf, but with the addition of local spice taste), and is normally added whole to enhance the presentation and flavor of the rice. It is also used in most Indian meat preparations.
While preparing any variety of pulao (chicken, vegetable etc), use whole or crushed spices like star anise, bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and peppercorns in equal quantities and tie in small muslin bag and mix this into the rice water for extracting the flavors.
Pulao masala is usually either added to rice preparations like peas pulao, biryani or mixed vegetable pulao. When the onions turn translucent, add the mixed vegetables, pulao masala powder. Stir and add Salt as required. The pulao masala can also be added to curries, vegetable dishes, soups, or stews toward the end of cooking or sprinkled over the surface just before serving. To get the right mixture and detailed recipe click on the below link:
Since the masala powder is added only in small quantities, it does not have substantial health benefits. However the use of cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns are known to improve digestive complaints and immune functions.