Indian Chicken Pilaf (Pulao)

Chicken pulao

Joff Lee/Getty Images

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
541 Calories
25g Fat
34g Carbs
46g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 541
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 32%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 192mg 64%
Sodium 974mg 42%
Total Carbohydrate 34g 13%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 46g
Vitamin C 17mg 86%
Calcium 137mg 11%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 1038mg 22%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Strapped for time and still want to turn out a delicious, hot cooked meal? Look no farther! This Indian chicken pulao (pilaf) recipe is so easy to make.

Pulao is a rice-based dish which often also includes ingredients like vegetables or meat or both. Long-grained rice varieties like basmati are often used to prepare pulaos.

Sometimes the rice and other ingredients are cooked together in spices and broth, while at other times the parboiled rice is mixed with the spices, vegetable or meat mixture and stir-fried together.

You can use any cut of chicken for my this recipe but boneless, skinless thighs or breasts are the best. The meat is marinated for only 15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.


For the Chicken:

  • 2 pounds (1 kilogram) boneless skinless chicken thighs, or breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

For the Marinade:

  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste

  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

For the Spices and Cooking: 

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil

  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 6 to 8 whole cloves

  • 6 to 8 whole black peppercorns

  • 1 (1-inch) stick cinnamon

  • 4 to 5 pods green cardamom

  • 1 large or 2 small bay leaves

  • 2 large onions, chopped finely

  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste

  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste

  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped finely

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon ground ​cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1 cup plain yogurt

  • 2 cups rice

  • 4 cups chicken stock

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh green coriander

Steps to Make It

Make the Marinade

Gather the ingredients.

  1. In a large, nonmetallic bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon each garlic paste and ginger paste, red chili powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt and lemon juice.

  2. Place chicken in the marinade, turning to coat the chicken well. Cling wrap or cover the bowl and keep in the refrigerator for the chicken to marinate for 15 to 20 minutes while you prepare the remainder of the ingredients.

Prepare the Rest of the Dish

Put a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat. When it is hot, add the cooking oil. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaves, and fry until aromatic.

  1. Now add the onions and fry till they just begin to turn golden.

  2. Add 1 tablespoon each of the garlic and ginger pastes and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.

  3. Add the tomatoes, coriander, cumin, and garam masala and sauté until the cooking oil appears to start separating from the spice mix. This is a sign that the spices are well browned.

  4. Now add the marinated chicken cubes and brown well. Stir often while browning to prevent burning.

  5. When the chicken is browned, add the yogurt and stir to mix well. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

  6. Add the rice and stir.

  7. Add the chicken stock and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer till the rice and chicken are done and the water has almost fully dried up.

  8. Turn off the heat and let the dish rest for 7 to 10 minutes with the cover on.

  9. Adjust the salt if necessary. Garnish with finely chopped fresh green coriander and serve chicken pulao with a green salad, yogurt or a raita and pickle.