Best chicken pulao

Mallika Basu - Best chicken pulao

Posted 26th October 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. Rina says:

    Cool Chicken biriyani. yummy pic.

  2. RP says:

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

  3. Ashu says:

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

  4. Harshi says:

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

  5. Shari says:

    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. 🙁

  6. Smita says:

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


  7. Padma says:

    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

  8. Mallika says:

    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.

  9. Dom Pannell says:

    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!

  10. katie says:

    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.

  11. pie says:

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

  12. reena says:

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

  13. Padma says:

    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.

  14. […] 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 […]

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