Chicken Pulao

Today's recipe is  Chicken Pulao. Many would refer to it as chicken biryani also. But I called it as Pilaf as the spices and flavours are very subtle than biryani. This Chicken Pilaf comes from the city of Nawab Lucknow, India. Biryani from Lucknow is also known as pulao due to their cooking technique. In biryani, the use of spices is more. The meat and rice are layered one on top of the other. Hyderabad, India is famous for this type of biryanis, be it mutton or chicken. In Lucknow, it is known as pulao as the use of spices is comparatively less than biryani. In this, the meat and rice are cooked separately and then again cooked together in a sealed vessel. Many believe that this recipe originated in Persia and travelled to Indian with Mughals.

There are many ways of making this chicken pulao, but this one is my take on it. In this recipe, I will cook the chicken with all spices separately. Then parboil the rice up to  70% with whole spices separately. Then in a big pot, I will first put all the chicken pieces down and then cover it with the cooked rice and again cook together over a slow flame. The flavour of all the spices will infuse in the rice thus giving it a unique taste. This recipe is so scrumptious that you will want to eat more each time. This is the easiest method to cook this chicken pulao. Compliment this dish with some yoghurt raita (yoghurt based dip) and onion salad, and it's just a complete meal.

Note:- There is no perfect recipe for this dish. It comes with practice. So more you will make, better the taste will be each time.

So here is my recipe:-

Preparation Time:- 30 mins  Standing Time:- 10 mins  Cooking Time:- 60 mins  Total Time:- 1 hour 40 minutes

Number of Servings:- 2 - 3 persons

1 cup = 250 ml
½ cup = 125ml
1/3 cup:- 80 ml
1 tablespoon = 15 ml
1 teaspoon = 5 ml
½ teaspoon = 2.5 ml
¼ teaspoon = 1.25 ml

1) Skinless Chicken:- 500 grams ( on bone or 6 medium size leg pieces)
2) Basmati Rice:- 2 cups (Sella Basmati Rice - parboiled Basmati Rice goes best, but normal basmati will also do)
3) Onions:- 3 large (thinly sliced)
4) Garlic Paste:- 1 tablespoon
5) Ginger Paste:- 1 tablespoon

Dry Spices:-
6) Bay Leaves:- 2 large
7) Cloves:- 8 for grinding + 3 for boiling with rice
8) Green Cardamom:- 7 for grinding + 3 for boiling with rice
9) Fennel  Seeds:- ¼ teaspoon
10) Mace Powder:- ¼ teaspoon (if you grind a piece of mace  it should be ¼ teaspoon)
11) Nutmeg Powder:-  Little less than a ¼ teaspoon (if you grate a piece of nutmeg it should be less than ¼ teaspoon)
12) Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder:- 1 teaspoon
13) Hot Chilli powder:- 1 teaspoon
14) Yellow Food Colour:- ¼ teaspoon
15) Salt:- 1 tablespoon for cooking rice + ½ teaspoon for cooking chicken

16) Milk:- 1/3 cup or 80 ml
17) Kewra Water (Screwpine Water):- 1 teaspoon
18) Oil:- 5 tablespoon + ¼ teaspoon
19 ) Ghee (Clarified butter):- 2 tablespoon
20) Water:- 8 cups for cooking rice + 2 cups for cooking chicken

1)  Take 2 cups of water and wash it in running water for 6 -7 times.  Soak the rice in a cold water for 30 minutes. ( the water should be clear after 6 - 7 wash.)

2) Take a grinding jar and add 7 green cardamoms, 8 cloves and fennel seed to it, grind it till it is in powder form.

3) Take a big pot, add 8 cups of water, bay leaves, 3 cloves, 3 green cardamoms, ¼ teaspoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of salt to it. ( The salt should be good enough to make your rice salty. If the salt is less in water, there will be no taste in rice.) When the water starts boiling add the soaked rice to the water. ( Drain the water from the rice before adding to the pot.) Give it a stir. ( Don't stir it too much as it will break the rice grain.) The flame should be over high heat. Cook the rice till it is 70% done. Remove from the heat and drain water from the rice. Keep the rice in a wire mesh or spread the rice in a big plate. (It will help in cooling the rice.)

4) Now take a pan and heat oil and ghee together. Once hot add sliced onions to it. Cook for one minute. Add ginger, garlic paste, Kashmiri red chilli powder, hot red chilli powder and ½ teaspoon of salt to it. Stir and cook till the raw flavour of ginger and garlic has gone. It will take 2 -3 minutes. Add chicken pieces and cook over high flame for 6 - 7 minutes. 

5) After 7 minutes add 1½ - 2 cups of water to the chicken. Stir well. Cover and cook for 20 -25 minutes over medium heat or till the chicken is fully cooked. ( Stir it in between and add water if it goes to dry.) Check for seasoning, the salt should be low comparatively, as there is already salt in rice. Switch off the flame.

6) Now add the ground spice (which you made in step 1.), mace powder, nutmeg powder and kewra water(screwpine water) to the chicken. Mix well, cover the pan and keep it aside for 10 minutes.

7) After 10 minutes you will see the oil floating over the chicken gravy. With the help of a spoon collect the oil from gravy and keep it aside. And remove chicken pieces from the gravy.

8) Now take a heavy bottom pot. Add little gravy oil and a thin layer of rice, then add all the chicken pieces with little gravy to it (Don't add all the gravy to the pot. Keep it aside as you can serve it with the pulao itself.)

9) Cover the chicken pieces with ½ of rice. Spread all the gravy oil evenly to the rice. (refer to point 7). Make sure it covers most of the area. Now add rest of the rice to it.

10) Now take a bowl and dissolve a ¼ teaspoon of yellow food colour in  1/3 of milk.
Make some holes in the rice gently and pour the milk over the rice. ( Making holes in the rice will help the steam to circulate evenly and cooking it properly.)

11) Cover the pot with some kitchen towel and place a lid on it (You can you aluminium foil instead of a towel).  Place the pot over a flat pan or griddle and cook over high heat for 10 minutes and then over very low heat for 10- 12 minutes. After 10 minutes you will notice the steam coming out for the pot. At that time switch off the flame. Let it rest for 10 minutes. (Do not over the lid.)

12) After 10 minutes of standing time. Open the lid and toss it with very light hands with a help of some flat spoon. (Best if you can do it will a small plate.)

13) Serve hot. Your scrumptious chicken pulao is ready.

* You can cook it in the oven also, for that preheat the oven to 180°Celcius or 350° Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Place the pot in the oven and cook for 20 - 25 minutes. In this case, you have to take an oven proof dish. The process of layering the chicken and rice will be same as mentioned above from point 8 onwards.

* If you want to make it in a large portion just double the quantity mentioned above.

* People living outside India, and not aware of all the Indian spices, and kewra water, you will mostly get all the spices in the Indian stores near your place. 

Serving Tip:- Serve this dish with the chicken gravy kept aside, salad and yoghurt raita (dip) of your choice.

Do try my recipe and leave for comments below. Till then Happy Cooking.! 

Creative Commons License by Madhurima Roy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


  1. That is wonderful post for foodie. Thanks for sharing a nice post for Best Biryani Near Me. It is useful to foodies. Keep it up your hard work.


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