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Pakistani Chicken Pilau Rice
Chicken pilau rice is a dish of comfort and fulfilment. A dish of heartwarming flavour that tastes satisfying as a standalone menu. Yet, it complements other side dishes when put together among the feast spread.
The whole spices cooked in the broth for the rice give an irresistible aroma. It marries well with the richness of the chicken stock. And the chicken pieces are meltingly tender.
Pilau rice is a rice dish of togetherness and celebration that you often find at celebrations such as weddings, eid, birthdays or simply family get-togethers.
It is almost always a must-have item among the menu for special occasions that every Pakistani household will definitely have to be able to cook and serve it for their loved ones.
The rice is cooked in spiced chicken stock, and the recipe I’m sharing with you here is based on what I learned from my extended family. So it’s kind of a secret family recipe that will no longer be a secret. And you can even learn a trick or two from me so that you get the perfect pilau right from the start.
Quite Simple Ingredients
You need three types of ingredients for this celebratory rice dish, i.e.: rice, chicken, and whole spices.
For the rice, it is rather imperative to use basmati rice as other types of rice such as short-grain, long-grain, Thai rice, etc. will not taste the same. They can go either mushy or hard and chewy. And there are many brands for basmati rice. I have tried numerous ones. Some are good, some are okay. But recently I’m kinda hooked with Badshah.
And when it comes to chicken, I use baby chicken with bone and cut it in small pieces. Because I find it more flavoursome than the large poultry.
As for the whole spices, you will need whole black peppercorns, whole cumin seeds, whole coriander seeds, whole cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, whole black cardamom, onion, ginger root, and garlic cloves.
Additionally, you will need a little bit of cooking oil to fry the onion. And needless to say you will need salt as well.
How to Make
It is pretty straightforward to make pilau rice. In essence, you just need to make the stock, then cook the rice in that stock.
So first, you prepare the rice by washing, rinsing and soaking in plenty of water. Then, fry the onions and spices until the onion turns light golden brown.
Secondly, you add in the chicken pieces and continue to fry until the poultry become firm and opaque in colour.
Thirdly, you put in the whole onion and the hot boiling water (from the kettle), then let it boil and simmer. It takes me about an hour to simmer at low heat.
Lastly, once the stock is ready, sieve and pour it into another cooking pan. You can discard the whole spices, onion, ginger, garlic, bay leaves and cinnamon away. But carefully pick the chicken pieces and put them back into the soup.
Then drain the rice and put it into the broth. Cook it until all the liquid evaporates. You can gently stir the rice every now and again to ensure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Next, wrap a tea towel over the pan lid and put the lid on the pan. Cook further at a lower heat until steam comes out of the lid.
Now, I think the secret of a good pilau with delicious taste lies in the proportion of each spice and the amount of stock that cooks the rice. As I mentioned above, your cooked rice should be fluffy but not broken and mushy. So make sure you put the right amount of stock. And stir the rice carefully so you will not break it.
Another way to make this chicken pilau rice is by using a rice cooker. You can prepare the chicken stock and soak the rice. Then you put the rice and the chicken stock in the rice cooker and set the rice cooker according to its manual for Basmati rice.
Top Tips Of Making The Best Tasting Pilau Rice
- You may find chicken pilau rice that looks pale in colour or slightly darker brownish looking. Both are equally good in taste. Though I personally prefer brown pilau because it smells and tastes richer due to the fried onions. The difference is that you fry the onion longer until they are golden brown. To do this, you will have to take care in frying the onion and keep stirring so it will evenly cook.
- And when it comes to cooking Pakistani rice dishes, the spices and the flavour are not the only keys. It is when you can cook the rice without making it mushy or break the shape of the grains that is an equally important key.
In fact, when I cooked Pilau Rice for the first time, my extended family approved it just by looking at the rice. Just because all the rice grains looked intact in their shapes and the colour of rice was nicely brown but not too dark. And also it was not greasy and oily.
- To cook Basmati rice, you need 1 ½ cup of water for every 1 cup of Basmati rice. These can be basic guidelines for you to cook pilau rice as well. So when you finish boiling and making the chicken stock, you can sieve it and measure it to know how much stock you get.
For this recipe, we need about 3 ¾ cups of stock. So you can add or take away the chicken stock you make if it is less or more than what you need, which is 3 ¾ cups.
- Similar to making good broth, the longer you cook meat and bone for making stock the better the stock flavour that you get. This also applies to making the chicken stock for pilau rice. Though I say it takes approximately an hour for me to boil the broth, you’re more than welcome to do it longer. Because I often do that too. And believe me, your pilau rice will taste even better when you boil the broth longer.
I hope you are now thinking of trying the recipe. If you do so, it will be great if you could share what you think about this Chicken Pilau Rice in the comments below (leave a reply box).
Before you go, don’t forget to check out my other recipes that typically go with the chicken pilau rice.
- Aloo Gosht – potato and meat curry.
- Aloo Palak – spinach and potato curry.
- Chicken Shorba – chicken curry with runny curry sauce.
- Lamb kofta curry – lamb meatballs curry.
- Chicken tikka.
- Chicken kebabs or lamb kebabs.
- Lamb chops.
- Kachumber – diced cucumber, tomatoes, and onion salad.
- Dahi Boondi – yoghurt with fried gram flour.
- Dahi Baray – lentil dumplings soaked in spiced yoghurt.
Thank you and all the best.