Chicken Dishes/ Non Vegetarian/ Recipes/ Rice Dishes

Chicken Pulao

In an earlier post “A Trip Down Biryani Lane“, Rajesh had referred to a “mean chicken pulao” that his mother used to make while he was growing up.  I got to eat this for the first time when my in-laws visited us and my mother-in-law cooked it for dinner one night.  It was simply delicious and reminded me of the chicken biryani/pulao that we used to eat at Swathi in Bangalore.  Since then this has become a regular at our house.  In fact Rajesh’s colleagues at work love this pulao and I cook it for them whenever they visit us.  In fact, I’m posting this recipe on his friend’s request, so without further ado, Joe, here is the recipe for you to refer to as “Aparna’s rice”!


  • Chicken - 1, whole
  • Basmati rice - 2 cups
  • Oil/Ghee - 6 tbsp
  • Bay leaves - 2
  • Cloves - 10
  • Cinnamon stick - 2" piece
  • Green cardamom - 3, whole (slightly opened for flavor)
  • Onions - 3, large
  • Ginger - 2 " piece
  • Garlic - 6-8 cloves
  • Green chillies - 8 (more or less depending on your taste)
  • Tomatoes - 3, medium sized
  • Red chilli powder - 2 tsp (can go more or less depending on your taste)
  • Yoghurt - 1 cup
  • Lime juice - 2 tbsp
  • Cilantro - 1 bunch (about a cup)
  • Mint leaves - 20-22 leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Garam masala powder - 1 tsp



Clean chicken, remove skin and cut into bite size pieces and set aside.


Wash and soak Basmati rice in water for 30 minutes.


Slice onions lengthwise, finely chop tomatoes, chop the greens (cilantro and mint) finely and set aside.


Mince ginger, garlic and green chillies in a food processor and set aside.


Heat oil/ghee in a stockpot.  Put in the whole spices (bay leaves, green cardamom, cinnamon stick and cloves).  When the spices are fragrant, put in the sliced onions.  Fry till onions are soft.


Add the minced ginger, garlic and green chillies mixture and sauté  till they turn light brown and you can no longer smell the rawness of garlic.


Put in the chopped tomatoes and fry till pulpy.


Add yoghurt and lime juice and sauté till the yoghurt is well blended.


Put in the chopped chicken pieces and mix well so that each and every piece is coated with the yoghurt mixture.  Also add the chopped greens and salt to taste.  Mix well, cover and cook till chicken is 3/4 th done.


Now use a strainer to strain out the curry mixture into a bowl, be careful when you do this!


Drain water from the soaked rice and add uncooked rice to the chicken, add the required amount of water (please see Notes below for measurement) and the curry mixture.


Add salt to taste and mix well.


When the water starts to boil, put in the garam masala powder, mix well, cover and cook on low flame till done.


When done, let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes before you open the lid.


Serve hot with onion and tomato raita.


  • Everybody makes rice in a different way.  People make it in pressure cookers, stockpots, rice cookers, etc. When I make any kind of pulao or biryani, I tend to use my stockpot.  I have my own way of making it, it may or may not work for everybody.  For me its been a foolproof way of making my rice dish where the rice comes out perfectly cooked and it is nice and fluffy.  At this point I should also mention that I have a electric cooking range and not a gas one.  For this rice, I do not add any water when the chicken is cooking, as the chicken and yoghurt combined exude water while cooking.  When the chicken is approximately 3/4 done, I separate the curry (liquid) from the chicken mixture and set it aside. Then I add uncooked rice to the chicken,  measure the liquid that I had set aside and then add water.  For E.g. if I am cooking 2 cups of rice, I would normally require 4 cups of water.  However, if the curry liquid is 1.5 cups, then I add 2.5 cups of water along with the 1.5 cups of curry liquid to the rice.  This way, I ensure that the rice does not get soggy or undercooked.   Once the liquid has been added, bring it to a boil on high heat.  When it comes to a boil, cover and cook on low flame for exactly 10 minutes.  Take the pot off the heat and and let it sit without opening the lid for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • I tried making the pulao without removing the liquid, just by eyeballing it and adding water, but the end result was a super soggy mess, hence the procedure that I have outlined above.
  • Go easy on the salt because salt will be added while cooking the chicken as well as when you add rice.
  • You can add chicken stock instead of water to the rice to add extra flavor.

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