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Chicken Pilau

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I was just about to make a Chicken Curry when I saw a post for Chicken Pilau. I’ve always wanted to try it so thought today was as good a day as any. It was absolutely divine. I will add more chilly next time. Either that or the green chillies from my cousin’s garden were useless


  • 500 – 800g chicken pieces
  • 2 cups good quality basmati rice (washed and soaked in water 1 – 2 hours)
  • 1 large onion (slivered)
  • ½ teaspoon whole shah jeera
  • 2 large tomatoes (Blanched in some water, drained, peeled and blended)
  • 2 large potatoes (quartered, coloured with egg yellow and fried – microwaved to half cook)
  • 4 whole Cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole elachi pods
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon ginger/garlic paste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground green chillies
  • 1 ½ teaspoon dhania/jeera powder
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 2 tsp Bombay masala (my own addition)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ cup – oil
  • ½ cup yoghurt/sour milk
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Hard-boiled eggs (optional)

Braised Onion

  • 1 large onion (slivered)
  • ½ teaspoon whole jeera seeds
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons butter or butter ghee

Method to Braised Onion:

  1. Add butter/ghee to a small frying pan, add onion and jeera seeds and fry till golden brown.
  2. When almost done throw in curry leaves.
  3. Spread this over the cooked pilau (rice)

Method for Chicken Pilau

  1. Add oil to pot, heat. Add onion, shah jeera, elachi, cloves, bay leaf and cinnamon sticks and fry until golden brown.
  2. Add ginger/garlic. Fry further ½ minute.
  3. Now add lamb/chicken pieces and toss well.
  4. Add tomatoes, vinegar and sugar, cook until softened.
  5. Now add all the spices, salt and allow to fry until catching at bottom of the pot.
  6. Add yoghurt/sour milk and ground green chillies.
  7. Toss well, add fried potatoes, curry leaves and leave to simmer on low heat with the pot lid on.
  8. Boil basmati rice quickly in salted water with a teaspoon of turmeric powder.
  9. Bring to boil just once and drain.
  10. Place boiled eggs and then cooked rice over the top of the meat and potatoes.
  11. Now add 1 cup boiling water and mix a little ghee or butter on a thin layer of the rice (on top) to prevent the rice from drying out.
  12. Cover with foil and place in a preheated oven at 180’C +- 1 hour, until rice absorbs all the water and potatoes cooked through.
  13. If potatoes are not cooked through, add a little more water and leave to cook.
  14. Make braised onion and spread over rice just before serving.
Chicken Pilau

NOTE: I added Bombay masala because I had just got it for the first time.
I first parboiled the potatoes with egg yellow (in the microwave) then fried it and only added it when I added the rice.
I only added the egg after it was finished steaming in the oven before serving.
NOTE: I usually colour and fry my potatoes and then place them in a casserole bowl with a lid and microwave on high until halfway done.
Then I set it in my biryanis/pilau
For a really exotic pilau, add a few cashew nuts and sultanas to your braised onions that are almost browned.
Serve with sour milk salad and sambals or tossed salad

Recipe credit: Eshana Suleman
Prepared, tried and tested by: Melanie Kramar

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