Afghani Chicken Pilau

Servings : Serves 4-5

Quite possibly one of my absolute favourite pilau recipe! I have been experimenting and adjusting this recipe and finally I have found a balance that works beautifully for me, my family truly LOVES this meal and I am sure you will too!

This meal can also be made with mutton/lamb instead of chicken.

Ingredients for Spice Mix

  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 level tbsp freshly roasted cumin seeds, powdered
  • 1 level tbsp freshly roasted coriander seeds, powdered

Main Ingredients

  • 1 chicken, skin removed and cut into 8-10 pieces (1-1.5 kg)
  • 3 cups rice
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 5 onions, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 green chilli, halved
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • water as needed

Ingredients for Garnish

  • 2 large carrots, grated or finely cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 tbsp butter


Combine all the Spice Mix ingredients together and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan, fry the onions until golden. Remove and drain the fried onions, reserve half of them and crush the other half. In the same pan, with the oil still hot, add the chicken, ginger and garlic pastes and half tsp. salt. Fry the chicken on high heat on both sides until the meat changes color, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed onions and 1 tbsp from the powdered spices. Give everything a stir and then add 1 cup of water. Lower the heat and let the chicken simmer gently, covered on low heat until the chicken is tender. This should take about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the cuts of chicken. Take care to keep the heat on very low and not to over-cook the chicken as it will cook a little bit more during the steaming of the pilau.

In the meantime, prepare the rice. Soak the rice for at least 30 minutes. In a big pan of water, add some salt and the vinegar plus the green chilli. Once the water comes to a boil, drain the pre-soaked rice and cook it in the boiling water until it is about three-quarters done. Drain away the excess water from the rice.

When the chicken is done, turn off the heat. Now take a big pan, pour in half the cooked rice. Then layer the chicken with its masala over the rice, sprinkle the reserved half of the fried onions and the remaining powdered spices. Layer the remaining rice on top of the chicken. Cover the pan with a tight lid. Place on low heat and steam for about 15 minutes or bake in a preheated 180 C oven for the same amount of time.

Whilst the pilau is steaming, prepare the tomato chutney and the carrot/raisins garnish.

Here is my preferred tomato chutney recipe: Tomato Chutney

For the garnish, heat the butter then lightly fry the raisins and grated carrots for about a minute.

When the pilau is ready, serve it in a dish and pour the carrot/raisins garnish over it. You can even serve with raita on the side and the yummy tomato chutney of course.

Enjoy! 🙂

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