Indian Chicken Pilaf (Pulao) Recipe

Chicken Pulao
Chicken Pulao. Joff Lee/ Getty Images
  • 45 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings chicken pilaf
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Strapped for time and still want to turn out a delicious, hot cooked meal? Look no farther! This Indian chicken pulao (pilaf) recipe is so easy to make.

Pulao is a rice-based dish which often also includes ingredients like vegetables or meat or both. Long-grained rice varieties like basmati are often used to prepare pulaos.

Sometimes the rice and other ingredients are cooked together in spices and broth, while at other times the parboiled rice is mixed with the spices, vegetable or meat mixture and stir-fried together.

You can use any cut of chicken for my this recipe but boneless, skinless thighs or breasts are the best. The meat is marinated for only 15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

What You'll Need

  • For the Chicken:
  • 2 pounds (1 kg) boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • For the Marinade:
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • For the Spices and Cooking: 
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil like vegetable, canola or sunflower
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 6 to 8 whole cloves
  • 6 to 8 black peppercorns
  • 1-inch stick cinnamon
  • 4 to 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 large or 2 small bay leaves
  • 2 large onions chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 3 large tomatoes chopped finely
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground 
  • cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon
  • garam masala
  • 1 cup unsweetened yogurt
  • 2 cups rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh green coriander

How to Make It

Make the Marinade

  1. In a large, nonmetallic bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon each garlic paste and ginger paste, red chili powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt and lemon juice.
  2. Place chicken in the marinade, turning to coat the chicken well. Cling wrap or cover the bowl and keep in the refrigerator for the chicken to marinate for 15 to 20 minutes while you prepare the remainder of the ingredients.

Prepare the Rest of the Dish

  1. Put a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat. When it is hot, add the cooking oil. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaves, and fry till aromatic.
  2. Now add the onions and fry till they just begin to turn golden.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon each of the garlic and ginger pastes and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, coriander, cumin and garam masala and sauté until the cooking oil appears to start separating from the spice mix. This is a sign that the spices are well browned.
  5. Now add the marinated chicken cubes and brown well. Stir often while browning to prevent burning.
  6. When the chicken is browned, add the yogurt and stir to mix well. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the rice and stir.
  8. Add the chicken stock and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer till the rice and chicken are done and the water has almost fully dried up.
  9. Turn off the heat and let the dish rest for 7 to 10 minutes with the cover on.
  10. Adjust the salt if necessary. Garnish with finely chopped fresh green coriander and serve chicken pulao with a green salad, yogurt or a raita and pickle.