An easy one pot pulao to satisfy your picky eaters
Food speaks. It isn't always just about how it tastes, but also about the nostalgia it brings, and the memories it creates. A friend once spoke with great passion about how the food she cooks is the best way she knows how to communicate her culture to her kids, to instil a love for where she comes from, who she is, and who they are. Her words have stuck with me, especially since like her I too am raising Canadian kids who I hope will love their Pakistani heritage as much as their Canadian identity. That is where this kid friendly chicken pulao comes in.
If you are looking for a flavorful more adult version (translation: more spices) then check out this fan favourite Chicken Pulao.
I once posted on Instagram that my culinary autobiography would have to be called "The Pulao Diaries". For someone who has next to no memory of eating chicken pulao as a child I now find myself making it at least every other week, sometimes more. It is a dish my children love, a dish that captures so many Pakistani flavors without setting tongues on fire. I suspect when my kids look back on their childhoods their memories will be scented with caramelized onions and the sound of the exhaust fan on higH.
No Yakhni Needed
Pulao purists will recognize that this isn't an 'authentic' pulao in the sense that it is not a yakhni pulao (one made by creating a broth). While I adore those the reality is that I don't usually have the time to make them.
What Makes it Weeknight Friendly and Kid Friendly
- This is a one pot meal
- Requires minimal chopping (2 onions) and minimal prep work
- Low spice level but still flavorful (thank you caramelized onions)
Cooking Basmati Rice
Rice can be finicky to cook - timing it so you get long grained beauties can be difficult, which is why it is important to find a brand of rice you like and stick with it to develop a good sense of how it cooks. For instance I know that Falak requires minimal soaking to cook perfectly and for a dish like this I am not likely to do the traditional 30-minute soak. Other brands of rice are sturdier and would do well with a pre cooking soak. If your brand of rice cooks especially quickly then feel free to reduce the water you use here as well.
Chicken for Pulao
For the chicken I usually have bone in breast pieces that the butcher cuts into 2 inch pieces and they work well. Leg pieces would naturally have both more flavour and more moisture.
Must Know Tips for DELICIOUS Pulao
1.) Do not do not do not use the jarred garlic and ginger pastes UNLESS you happen to have found one that doesn't have the overarching smell and taste of vinegar. If you don't feel like whizzing up purees then grate some ginger and crush the garlic (about 6 cloves) in a garlic press.
2.) Caramelize your onions! It is worth the few extra minutes. Bonus tip: A little splash of water after your onions take on that rich brown will really up both the colour and flavour.
3.) Weird rice that works: If your water evaporates too quickly then wet a clean tea towel, wring it out and put it between the pot and the lid. Conversely if the rice is too wet place a dry clean tea towel between the pot and lid to soak up the moisture.
Kid Friendly Chicken Pulao / Chicken Pilaf
- 2.5 cups rice
- 1 pound chicken little over is fine cut into 2-inch pieces
- 4-5 cloves/ laung
- 6-8 whole black peppers
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 2-3 green cardamom
- 2 onions thinly sliced
- 1 ¼ tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp ground garlic
- 1 tsp salt + 1.25 tsp
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- ½ to 1 ½ tsp cayenne/red chilli powder
- Wash your rice, soak it in cold water and set it aside.
- Heat oil in a large pot (preferably non stick) and add your whole spices - the cloves, black pepper, cardamom, and cinnamon. Fry for two minutes till fragrant.
- In go the onions - these will take 6-10 minutes to caramelize. You want a dark brown colour - add a splash of water immediately to stop the browning from turning into burning.
- Then add your ginger and garlic, stir fry for two minutes till fragrant
- Add salt, coriander powder and red chilli powder. Cook for another 2 minutes.
- Then add the chicken and stir fry it well till all of it turns white. At this point I like to cook the chicken on medium low heat for about 6-10 minutes depending on the size of my chicken pieces. The intent isn't to fully cook them, but to give the chicken a head start.
- Then add the rice, 3 ¼ cup water and 1 ¼ tsp salt. Stir to combine and bring it to a boil.
- Cover and simmer on medium heat for 10-15 minutes - essentially until the water is mostly absorbed.
- Cook on low heat for another 10 minutes then check for doneness.
This looks delicious and really easy to make for a new cook like myself. I only have brown basmati though. Do you think it would be worth attempting to make this recipe with brown? Or should I use white only?
BTW, just discovered your blog and I love it!!!
Hi Rafia! I find brown rice pulaos to be persnickety so I would stick with white rice! Just saw that you've joined the blogging crew - so excited for you and following you!
Hi Sarah! We got the brown rice because my husband insisted it was healthier even though I told him you can't make biryani with it. I was hoping I was wrong though... because we have so much and this recipe looks so delicious. But I guess we'll have to wait! 🙂 Awww, thanks so much for the welcome and for the follow! You made my day, you are my first follower. I hope you enjoy my blog. Take care!
This dish looks like pure comfort food Sarah. I'd love to try it out as I've never had pulao before.Thank you for sharing!
This is one of our favorite family dinners!
Anjana Devasahayam says
Congratulations on the new digs, Sarah! Everything looks great.
Great recipe too.
PS: I'm no purist. In my book, everything goes if I can get the kiddo to eat it!!
Thanks Anjana! and I knew you were a kindred spirit 😉
Katie Podracky says
I'm so excited to find your blog! How long have I missed this, Sarah?
I made this tonight it tastes nice except it doesn't have much colour like the photo in recipe 🙁 I crushed fresh ginger and garlic in a mortar and pestle. Should I have caramelised onions longer?
oh my goodness - the fresh ginger and garlic must have made it super yum! And yes I think you're bang on about why the color isn't the same. Thanks for trying my recipe and for your feedback!
It’s amazing thank u ! All recipe with Pakistani music in background 🔊. This fragrant - amazing....
only I don’t know how to caramelise onion to turn brown - mine was just gold after 15 mins 😭any tip to it ?
Hi Joanna!!! Thank you so much for your kind words and yes music is key! hehe
in terms of colour I think alot depends on the pot you're using and the kind of cook top so I would recommend going longer but not turning the heat up otherwise they will burn not caramelize!
Easy & kid friendly recipe as well as delicious. So thankful for Sarah‘s recipes in my life.
Sarah Mir says
I am so glad it worked for your family!
This looks great. I would like to make this for an iftaar I'm hosting tonight, but not sure how many servings this recipe would make. Could you please advise? Thanks and Ramadan Kareem!
Sarah Mir says
I am so sorry I am just seeing this now but it serves 4 easily, 6 if you have other dishes!