Boil rice in plenty of water, with salt, bay leaves, cloves, cardamoms.
Cook rice until just done, so that each grain is separated and still not raw. Drain water, spread in a plate.
Dip raisins in hot water for 2-3 minutes, drain, keep aside.
Sprinkle 1 tsp ghee and pomegranate seeds, peas and raisins on rice.
Heat fat in a heavy pan, fry cashew nuts till light golden, drain, add to rice. Fry bread croutons, drain, add half to rice, keep the other half aside.
In same hot fat, add vegetables one at a time, drain and keep aside.
To the drained hot fat, add cumin and asafoetida, allow to splutter.
Add ground paste, saute for a minute.
Add curd, dry masalas, cinnamon, salt, and stir-fry till whiteness of curd is gone. Add vegetables and remaining croutons.
Stir, add coriander, lemon juice and mix lightly. Keep aside.
In a heavy bottomed deep handi, or similar container, smear some ghee or butter. Put one layer of rice, top with a layer of veggie mixture, followed by a layer of tomato slices. Repeat till all rice, mixture, tomatoes are used up. End with a top layer of rice.
Sprinkle milk evenly over the handi contents.
Cover, seal, and cook on very low fire for 5-7 minutes.
Serve piping hot as a rice dish for a dinner course.
Bawarchi of the Week
Chitra Ramachandran is a very talented home cook who is enthusiastic about South Indian Vegetarian cooking styles.