Take the coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and crushed ginger+garlic in a muslin cloth. Place them in the center.
Tie the muslin cloth securely with the spices and ginger, garlic inside it. This is the bouquet garni.
Making yakhni (stock)
Heat water to a gentle boil in a pan or pot on medium heat. Add the mixed chopped veggies, green peas and salt as required. Also place the bouquet garni in the pan or pot.
Cover the pan and cook the veggies till they are half-done or half-cooked on medium-low to medium heat. Take into account the cooking time of 10 to 12 minutes. The vegetables are not boiled here but cooked gently on a medium-low to medium heat.
Through a strainer strain the stock or yakhni in a bowl and set the half-cooked veggies aside.
When warm or cool, squeeze the bouquet garni over the bowl containing the stock to extract as much as flavors from the spices. Open the muslin and discard the spices.
Measure 2 cups of the stock and set it aside. You can use the remaining veg stock to make soup, dal or any gravy dish.
Making yakhni pulao
Rinse basmati rice very well in water. Then soak the basmati rice in water for 20 to 30 minutes.
Later drain the water and set the soaked rice aside.
Heat ghee in a pan and let it melt.
Add the whole spices - cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, black cardamom and peppercorns. Fry till they are fragrant for a few seconds.
Add sliced onions. Stirring often, fry the onions until they are browned.
Add the soaked basmati rice. Stir and mix the basmati rice well. Sauté gently on a low heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
Now add the half-cooked veggies and 2 cups of the broth or yakhni. Add salt if needed. Note that we have already added salt to the yakhni. Keep this in mind before adding the salt.
Add curd (yogurt) and mix well.
Cover pan with a tight- fitting lid.
Cook for 15 to 20 minutes on dum on a low heat.
Later open the pan. If the rice appears not be completely cooked and the mixture looks dry, simply add in a few splashes of some warm yakhni or broth to the rice. Gently stir with a fork. Cover tightly and cook for a few minutes more.
If there is some stock in the pulao, then do not add any extra veg stock. Simply cover the pan and cook further for some more minutes.
Take one tablespoon ghee or oil in a pan. Add ⅓ cup thinly sliced onions.
Once the onions changes to light brown color, you can add some cashews and continue to sauté with the onions. Sauté till the onion becomes golden brown.
When serving, garnish yakhni pulao with crispy golden onions and cashew nuts. Sprinkle some chopped coriander or mint leaves.
Serve veg yakhni pulao hot or warm with onion raita or with onion mint kuchumber.
For the rice, it is better to use aged basmati rice. You can also use a good quality long grained rice.
Use sturdy veggies like carrots, cauliflowers, beans etc. The vegetables have to be half-cooked while making the broth or yakhni.
For a umami flavor in the broth, you can add about 1 tablespoon of dried oyster mushroom powder to the yakhni or stock.
To add protein to the dish, add some tofu or paneer. Pan fry them and serve as a topping or garnish.
If you have ready homemade stock, then first follow the steps of sautéing the spices and onions until golden. Add the vegetables and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Next add in the rice and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes on a low heat. Add the stock, yogurt and salt if needed. Mix well. Cover and cook until the rice grains are tender and fluffy.
The recipe is scalable to a make a small batch or a larger batch.