Saturday 2 February 2013

Chicken Pulao

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

Pulao is an extremely popular Pakistani dish that is present at every Eid table and every special occasion. It is a rice dish in which the rice steams and cooks in a home-made spicy chicken stock. 
I'll be honest with you. I have seen this dish being made by my mother, grandmother (the original fount of pulao knowledge in my family) and countless aunts over the years, and they all made it look so easy. My mother gave me the recipe and sent me in the kitchen to make Chicken Pulao alone for the first time. And, when I exited a few hours later, I was full of praise and astonishment at how effortless my mother, grandmother and aunts had made it look over the years. 
So, this recipe is dedicated to all those amazing ladies, who can whip up a steaming batch of pulao in their sleep - may Allah reward you for all you've done over the years and grant you all Jannatul Firdous - ameen!
And, if any of you out there are used to having your mothers make this for you, then I challenge you to have a go at it yourself!

A Simple List of Ingredients:

1. Coriander Seeds

2. Whole Cinnamon 
3. Black Cardamoms
4. Red Chilli Powder
5. Salt
6. Onions
7. Tomatoes
8. Green Jalapeno Chillies
9. Garlic
10. Whole Chicken in Pieces
11. Water
12. Green Chillies
13. Vegetable Oil
14. Cumin Seeds
15. Yoghurt
16. Black Pepper
17. Basmati Rice

Bismillah, let's begin!  

The first thing to do is soak 3 cups (690 grams) of Basmati rice in water.

Next, to prepare the chicken stock, take:
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
2 teaspoons salt
6 black cardamoms

And, take:
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3 whole green jalapeno chillies
1 tomato, quartered
1/2 garlic round, unpeeled

Take a large pot, and add 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces.

To the chicken, add 5 cups (1 litre and 150ml) of water. Make sure you use the same cup that you measured the rice with.

Add all the above ingredients that were measure out before. 
Stir, bring to the boil and then simmer for 1/2 hour.

Next, take another large pot, and heat 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add 3 teaspoons of cumin seeds

Let the cumin seeds pop and turn dark brown for 2 minutes.

Next, take 2 sliced onions.

And, 2 sliced green chillies.

Add the sliced onions and chillies to the pot.

Brown the onions over a medium heat until dark brown. However dark your onions are that's how brown your rice will be. But be sure not to burn them as they can brown quite quickly.

At this point, the chicken stock should be done.

Have the lid of the pot ready at the side and turn the heat of the onions down to the lowest. Measure out and add 1/2 cup (115ml) of the chicken stock.

Cover the pot straight away as fast as you can. Do this carefully though because as liquid hits the pan, it will spit and hiss. 

Then, let the spitting and hissing calm down and stop before uncovering and stir for 4 minutes over a medium heat to let the onions cook.

Next, using a slotted spoon, add the chicken pieces from the stock, and brown them for a few minutes.

Next, add 1 tablespoon yoghurt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

Stir in to combine.

Next, drain the chicken stock until only the liquid is left behind.

Next, measure the stock using the same cup you used to measure the rice. This recipe uses 3 cups (690 grams) rice, so add 5 and 1/2 cups (1 litre and 265ml) stock to the chicken. If the stock runs out and you don't have enough, just add water to the get the amount you need. This won't affect the overall taste.
Bring to the boil.

Drain out the 3 cups (690 grams) of Basmati rice that was soaking earlier.

Add the rice to the pot. Taste the stock and adjust seasonings, if required. The taste you are looking for should be saltier than usual. This is because the rice will absorb the salt as it steams so you need a little extra.

Put onto a medium heat, and let the rice soak up the stock. When it's mostly soaked up, cover and leave for 20 minutes on the lowest heat.

Twenty minutes later, and it's done!

Serve the pulao straight away with a simple salad and My Green Yoghurt Chutney!


Full Written Recipe:

Chicken Pulao


For the Chicken Stock
2 teaspoons Coriander Seeds
2 Cinnamon Sticks
½ teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
2 teaspoons Salt
6 Black Cardamoms
1 Onion, peeled and quartered
3 Whole Green Jalapeno Chillies
1 Tomato, quartered
½ Garlic Round, unpeeled
1 Whole Chicken, cut into pieces
5 cups (1 litre and 150ml) Water

For the Rice
3 cups (690 grams) Basmati Rice
4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
3 teaspoons Cumin Seeds
2 Onions, peeled and sliced
2 Green Chillies, sliced
1 tablespoon Plain Yoghurt
½ teaspoon Black Pepper


1. First, soak the rice in water.

2. Take a large deep saucepan, and put in the chicken pieces. Add the water, and the rest of the stock ingredients. Stir, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

3. Then, take another deep saucepan, and heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds. Let them pop and turn dark brown for 2 minutes. Put in the onions and green chillies, and cook over a medium heat until dark brown. Be careful not to burn the onions.

4. At this point, the stock should be done. Save the liquid and the chicken pieces but discard everything else.

5. Have the lid of the onion pan ready at the side and turn the heat to the lowest. Add ½ cup (115ml) of the chicken stock. Cover the pan straight away. Be careful because as soon as the liquid hits the pan, it will begin to spit and hiss.

6. Once the hissing has stopped, uncover and stir for 4 minutes over a medium heat to let the onions cook. Add the chicken pieces, and cook until golden brown. Add the yoghurt and black pepper, and stir to combine.

7. Add 5 and ½ cups (1 litre and 265ml) of the stock to the pan, and bring to the boil. If you don’t have enough stock, just add water. This will not affect the overall taste.

8. Drain the rice that was soaking earlier, and add to the pan. Taste and adjust seasoning.

9. Put onto a medium heat, and let the rice soak up the stock. When it’s mostly soaked up, cover and leave for 20 minutes on the lowest heat.

10. Serve with salad and Green Yoghurt Chutney.

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