Chicken Pilau

Servings : Serves 4-5

Quick, easy and yummy chicken pilau.


  • 1 chicken, skin removed and divided into 8-10 pieces (1 to 1.5kg)
  • 500 gm basmati rice, washed 2-3 times then soaked for half an hour.
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 4 pieces each
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin/coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground roasted cumin powder
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • some chopped coriander

Whole Spices

  • 1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp whole pepper
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 cardamom


Put the chicken pieces in a deep pan, add 1 tsp ginger paste, 1 tsp garlic paste, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper powder and 4 cups of water. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Drain out the chicken and reserve the broth/yakhni for the pilau. The chicken will cook some more in the pilau so don’t be tempted to cook it any longer than 15 minutes on low heat, otherwise it will end up being tough and stringy. In the meantime, wash and then soak your rice for about 30 minutes.

I normally use 1 and a quarter cups of yakhni/soup for every cup of rice when making pilau. Measure the broth accordingly and adjust by adding water if needed. If the rice you normally use requires more water per cup of rice, adjust accordingly.

Place a pan on the stove. Remember that the rice will double after cooking and the chicken and potatoes will go in there too so you will need to have enough space in the pan. Turn on the heat and once the pan is hot, add the oil and butter.

Then add the whole spices; cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, cloves.

Once they splutter in the oil, add your chopped onions. Fry them until they are translucent and slightly golden, stirring with a wooden spoon. Then add the potatoes followed by the turmeric and cumin/coriander powder.

Let these fry for a few minutes, then add the garlic paste and a bit of chopped coriander.

The aroma should by now be brilliant. Add in the boiled chicken and stir everything together for a few minutes so that the chicken gets coated with all the spices, then add the measured stock/soup/yakhni and some salt. Let the stock simmer and taste for the salt. You should be able to feel the saltiness. If it feels just right, it means you have too little. Remember that the rice will need some salt too once it goes in there, so let it be a tiny bit saltier than you would want. Not too much of course!

When the water/broth starts boiling, drain your rice (which should have been pre-soaked for about half an hour) and add this rice to the stock. Sprinkle a bit of coriander on this, and stir a little. Let this cook on high heat for 2-3 minutes then reduce the heat to medium and keep cooking it whilst covered until the water diminishes, giving it a stir every now and then to make sure all the rice is cooked evenly and perfectly.

Once you find there is very little water left in the rice, reduce the heat to the lowest point possible. Seal your pan by using a tight lid or wetting a kitchen towel and placing it over the pan then placing a lid on top of it.

Leave the rice to continue steaming on very low heat for a good 10 mins. Switch off, and serve! 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂

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