Best chicken pulao

October 26, 2007

This week I faced 1600 blond, mostly pre-pubescent girls and boys with 800 bottles of wine.

Yes. It was the annual UK public relations awards extravaganza.

My boss tried to warn me: “It’s heeeeeuuuuggge“. I donned a little black dress and very high stilletos. But nothing could have prepared me for this.

The reception area was a bomb shelter for young PR bunnies. The main ballroom a heaving tribute to the champagne/wine industry. The loos… maybe some other time.

Old. Brunette. Lost. Sober. I was completely out of place.

A three-course meal, 27 award categories and 10 minutes of terrible dancing later I called it a night. Stilettos off at home, I needed to centre myself before crashing out.

Normally chicken pulao does the trick. A big pot does dinner, post drinks and breakfast the morning after. But this needs planning. And who plans anything mid-week?

Leftover gobi mussallam and cooked frozen paratha it was. Served with a blob of mango pickle.

I passed out almost immediately. Ready for another day. And yet another PR crisis… Here is my recipe for the best chicken pulao in the meantime, fluffy and moreish.



Feeds 4-6:

  • 2 cups rice (about 350 gm)
  • 1 cup natural, low fat yogurt
  • 6 skinless chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • 2 medium onions, sliced fine
  • 4 green chillies, chopped roughly
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tsp whole cumin
  • 2 inches cinnamon
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 inch ginger and 4 garlic cloves, pureed
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • Salt to taste



In a large pot, bring the oil to heat over a high flame. When it is hot, add the whole spices.

As they sizzle up in seconds add the onions and fry for five minutes until golden brown.

Then add the ginger and garlic and fry for another five minutes until the whole mixture goes a darker shade of brown. Add the turmeric, the chillies and the chicken.

Stir vigorously for five minutes until the chicken is brown all over. Now, add the yogurt and leave the chicken to cook on a high flame, stirring regularly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. If it does, add a little water.

After 10 minutes, stir in the rice and fry for a minute or so. Then add 4 cups of hot water, salt to taste, cover the pot and leave to cook.

Once you have done this, don’t stir the rice because it will get all mushy.

When the water dries up and the rice is cooked, the pulao is ready. Serve hot or cold, this will hit a spot either way.



16 Responses to “Best chicken pulao”

  1. Paneer with a purpose Says:

    September 10th, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    […] this time we both decided over Kashmiri Paneer, Chicken Pulao and red wine that we should ask you, the esteemed reader, what you think. What makes your blood […]

  2. Padma Says:

    February 8th, 2010 at 6:25 am

    I tried out your recipe and it came out very well.Such an easy recipe and very mouth watering too.My wholehearted thanks to you.

  3. reena Says:

    February 2nd, 2010 at 1:10 am

    this is cooking in it’s pot right now.praying this turns out well.i don’t have anything else for lunch.thanks

  4. pie Says:

    April 1st, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Hey, someone has your recipe on their website
    i just saw it on the link above. unless you posted it there yourself.

  5. katie Says:

    July 8th, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Good recipe! Our Parsi Pulao is made with the above ingrediants with the exception of rice cooked separately and thereafter chicken added with saffron, raisins and nuts. Ofcourse, Dhanshak dal with Pulao happens to be the most favorite dish amongst Parsis and friends. Always enjoy reading different recipes. So Long.

  6. Dom Pannell Says:

    October 30th, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Thanks for the recipe, Mallika (actually, thanks for all of them – I’ve been reading and using them for several months now).

    Shame you had to suffer the awards ceremony… next time, you might try the Flackenhack Awards night ( the inaugural one was lots and lots of fun!

  7. Mallika Says:

    October 30th, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Thanks all. Sandeepa – TV meal because it’s so easy to do and you can just make a big pot for s simple dinner. In truth, I have served this at parties as well.

  8. sandeepa Says:

    October 29th, 2007 at 9:31 am

    eta tv meal keno ?

  9. sandeepa Says:

    October 29th, 2007 at 9:30 am

    that looks great

  10. Padma Says:

    October 29th, 2007 at 8:45 am

    Did I tell u earlier, that I am a silent visitor to your blog. I love ur write ups and the way you cook Indian food so easily. Thanks for sharing such incredible recipes

  11. Smita Says:

    October 28th, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Okay – so now I’m officially addicted to your blog! Good stuff- keep writing :-)


  12. Shari Says:

    October 27th, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    This sounded tasty and doable with my limited selection of spices in Japan so I gave it a go. It was pretty good but I found the flavor wasn’t as deep as I generally encounter at real Indian restaurants. I don’t attribute this to the recipe, mind you, but rather to the quality of spices in Japan. I think most of them (even the whole ones) are low quality and have aged a bit before they’re purchases, particularly the spices that are non-traditional in Japanese cooking (like anise, cinnamon, and bay leaves). I think my yogurt was also pretty low grade as it separated rather unpleasantly during cooking. You just don’t have many choices here.

    I think I’m doomed never to make one of your dishes very well. :-(

  13. Harshi Says:

    October 27th, 2007 at 10:37 am

    How how how do you manage to cook that often with the job you have?? This chicken pulao looks absolutely delectable!

  14. Ashu Says:

    October 26th, 2007 at 9:27 am

    Looks yummy and sounds easy to make! Will surely try!

  15. RP Says:

    October 26th, 2007 at 8:54 am

    That’s a whole lot of people!!
    Pulao looks like biriyani! Yum!

  16. Rina Says:

    October 26th, 2007 at 8:34 am

    Cool Chicken biriyani. yummy pic.

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