Mutanjan | Sweet and Colourful Pakistani Rice | Meethe Chawal

As I am attempting to return back to the blogsphere, I had a look down the  ‘Drafts’ section of my blogger dashboard and was rather pleased to find a number of recipes and posts that were semi-ready to be published. One recipe that caught my eye was this one – sweet and colourful Mutanjan rice.

I immediately thought this rainbow hued dessert would be perfect some day as a treat and why on Earth haven’t I made this in so long?

I read my write-up for it and suddenly I remembered why. It made my heart wilt a bit.

Many of you who follow me on Instagram (@fatima.cooks) may know my father-in-law whom I was very close to passed away in the tragic  PK661 Chitral to Islamabad plane crash which was also carrying the Pakistani media and religious icon Junaid Jamshed. It’s a very difficult thing to talk about – as I have linked to the Wikipedia page which details the crash I can’t bear the read the details and think this happened to such a close and loved family member of mine. It is incredibly traumatic to lose a loved one in such a horrific manner.

Mutanjan - Sweet and Colourful Pakistani Rice - Meethe Chawal

In the Winter of 2016, me and my little family were on holiday to Pakistan. I had just had my first child a mere 6 weeks ago and we had made a sudden and impulsive decision to take a long holiday to my husbands home-town of Faisalabad. Towards the end of our holiday, my father-in-law had to make a work-related trip for which he went away for 13 days. He was a civil engineer and he took his work admirably seriously. We all were up on his case for days before he went asking him not go – we were on holiday, we wanted to spend all the time we had left with him, we didn’t want to have him missing for all these days and the reasons went on. Alas, work is work – and he went.

I’ll come back, he said, and then we will spend plenty of time together.

The day he was due to return, we had planned that I would cook Mutanjan for him. My mother-in-law and sisters-in-law were going to make keema shimla mirch (minced chicken and peppers) and maash ki daal (split urid lentils), and I was in-charge of the meetha. He had a huge sweet-tooth and loved warm desserts so this seemed befitting for the occassion – an explosion of happy, joyful colours in a fancy looking, loaded sweet dish. Garnished with mithai and nuts, how could anyone not love Mutanjan?

I had prepared all the ingredients, had all the food colours to hand and I was actually feeling incredibly nervous about cooking this for everyone – you know, cooking for your susraal (in-laws) and all.

We got the news that afternoon.

I never got round to making my Mutanjan.

Mutanjan - Sweet and Colourful Pakistani Rice - Meethe Chawal

Why am I telling you all such a story? It certainly isn’t to put you off making this lovely dessert, nor is it to evoke feelings of sadness if you do go ahead and make this recipe.

I’m telling you this story to highlight just how special and meaningful cooking can be. We have memories, beautiful, beautiful yaadein attached to so many things including food – cooking certain things summon up those feelings once more, like a well loved ghost from the past. Though I haven’t ever made Mutanjan since, the very sight of it conjours up vivid memories of my father-in-law.

Those who have left us may not live amongst us anymore physically, but they live on in our hearts and in our memories. In wonderful photos, in heartfelt messages and letters they may have written and of course in what they left behind them.

May my father-in-law and all those who passed tragically on the ill-fated PK661 flight rest in peace. Ameen

Enjoy, with love x

Mutanjan - Sweet and Colourful Pakistani Rice - Meethe Chawal
Mutanjan - Sweet and Colourful Pakistani Rice - Meethe Chawal
Print Recipe
Servings
8 servings
Cook Time
40 minutes
Servings
8 servings
Cook Time
40 minutes
Mutanjan - Sweet and Colourful Pakistani Rice - Meethe Chawal
Mutanjan - Sweet and Colourful Pakistani Rice - Meethe Chawal
Print Recipe
Servings
8 servings
Cook Time
40 minutes
Servings
8 servings
Cook Time
40 minutes
Ingredients
  • 3 cups white basmati rice washed and soaked for 30 minutes
  • 1 tbsp ghee/unsalted butter for cooking the rice with
  • 8 green cardamoms
  • 40-50 almonds, blanched and halved
  • small handful sultanas
  • 1/4 cup oil/ghee
  • 2.5 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp red food colour or as needed
  • 1/4 tsp orange food colour or as needed
  • 1/4 tsp yellow food colour or as needed
  • 1/4 tsp green food colour or as needed
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Cook the presoaked basmati rice till 75% done with a spoonful of ghee or unsalted butter. Drain and set aside
  2. In 4 seperate bowls/glasses, add 1/8 tsp of each food colour to 1.5 tsp of water and spoon in 2tbsp of rice in each bowl/glass. Mix to coat all the rice in the colour. If you feel like you want a stronger colour, add some more food colour. Keep this aside till needed
  3. In a pot, add your oil/ghee and your blanched almonds, raisins and cardamom. Cook this on a medium high heat, stirring often, till the raisins begin to lightly darken. This shouldn't take longer than 3-5 minutes
  4. Add your sugar and a splash of water. Cook this on high heat till the sugar granules dissolve into the water. You want to cook this down until the sugar becomes thick and gloopy. The sugar will probably sizzle and bubble a bit and that is fine! You just need to make sure you don't cook the sugar down so much that it becomes hard. There is no set time for how long this will take as it depends on the heat, but mine took about 15 minutes till it became very thick. Also, KEEP STIRRING! If you don't stir, your sugar may darken and this will result in dark looking rice
  5. Once the sugar has thickened and reduced, add your rice and stir to coat the rice with the sugar. Ideally, there shouldn't be a lot of moisture in the pot. It is OK if you find you have a lot of moisture - mine had loads! Just continue to cook on high until the water has reduced to a small amount.
    Mutanjan - Sweet and Colourful Pakistani Rice - Meethe Chawal
  6. Once the water had reduced (the rice will look wet and there will be moisture gathering around the rim of the pot) add the coloured rice to the top as shown in the picture. Turn the heat to the lowest possible setting, cover and allow the Mutanjan to steam cook for 15 minutes.
    Mutanjan - Sweet and Colourful Pakistani Rice - Meethe Chawal
  7. Serve immediately if you can. If you aren't serving immediately, fluff the rice up so it doesn't stick together - it will have a tendency to do that thanks to all the reduced, sticky sugar! Garnish with a variety of nuts, raisins, mithais etc. Top tip! Layer the coloured rice on the top and white at the bottom, if you can.
    Mutanjan - Sweet and Colourful Pakistani Rice - Meethe Chawal
Recipe Notes

Step 4 is very important in ensuring your Mutanjan comes out good - if the sugar darkens, your rice will be dark too, like in a Chicken Pilau. Stir continuously and MAKE SURE you add the water BEFORE you add the sugar.

If you are unsure about when you should add the rice, it is always best to add it before sooner rather than later. If you add it too late, you risk burning your sugar

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