Chicken Pulao

When growing up, one pot meat and rice dish was always Biryani and one pot vegetables and rice dish was Pulao or Bagara.   Back then, I did not acquire a taste for mutton and hence, it was always Chicken Biryani.  My aunts used to prepare Chicken Pulao but for some reason, it was never cooked at our home.  My understanding of the  difference between a Biryani and a Pulao is in its preparation.  Biryani is prepared by arranging the meat (raw or cooked) and partially cooked/boiled rice in layers and cooking them together on low flame, in an air tight pot.  Meat and rice is cooked in the juices released by the meats, and the steam generated by cooking in an air tight container or a pot.  Pulao is prepared by cooking cooked meats or sautéed vegetables with rice (uncooked rice).    Both the dishes, Pulao and the Biryani  taste awesome, but being a Hyderabadi, if given a choice of Biryani and a Pulao, I would go for Biryani without a blink :).

I used to cook Chicken Pulao a lot few years ago.  Lately, it is always Chicken Biryani.  Three weeks ago, when I was in no mood for elaborate cooking, I made this Pulao.  It came out well.  I cooked it in a rice cooker and did not have to keep an eye on it as it cooked.  In the past, I have baked the Pulao in the oven.  It has been so long that I don’t remember the cooking time and the oven temperature.  The list of ingredients is very long, but the preparation is very easy.  That day, we were so hungry that couldn’t wait to take a picture.  I took the picture after our lunch, with left over pulao ;).

Cooking Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Serves: 5-6

Print Recipe
Note: Measuring cup used here is the one that comes with the rice cooker

  • Chicken Mixture:
    • 3 ½ lbs Whole Chicken OR  2 ½ lbs or 1150 gms  cleaned Chicken
    • 3 tsp Chili Powder
    • Salt to Taste
    • 3/4 cup Oil (little less than 3/4 cup and more than ½ cups)
    • 1 large Onion
    • 1 ½ – 2 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
    • 12 – 16 Green Chilies (as per taste)
    • 3 tsp Coriander Powder
    • ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
    • 2 medium Tomatoes chopped or 1 ½ cups chopped Tomatoes
    • ¾ tbsp Garam Masala (12 Pepper Corns +12 Cloves + ½ tsp Cardamom Seeds + ½ tsp Saha Jeera, powdered)
  • Rice:
    • 4 cups Rice washed and soaked for 15 – 30 minutes
    • ¼ cup Oil
    • 4 cardamom
    • 4 Cloves
    • 1” Cinnamon
    • ½ tsp Saha Jeera
    • 4-5 Bay Leaves
    • 1 Biryani Flower
  1. Clean the chicken pieces, rub salt and chili powder to the pieces and marinate for at least 30 minutes. Can marinate it for 1-2 hours but no marination is also fine with this recipe. Since I am a marination freak, I marinated the chicken pieces for ½ hour.
  2. Wash rice and soak it in water.
  3. In a wide pan, heat ¾ cups of oil, fry the onions until golden brown, add ginger garlic paste and sauté until raw smell of the ginger garlic paste is gone.
  4. Add green chilies, coriander powder, turmeric and stir so that all the spices are mixed well.
  5. Add tomatoes, give it a good stir, cover and cook until tomatoes are tender and mushy. About 2-3 minutes.
  6. Remove the cover, stir the curry mixture well, add chicken pieces and garam masala. Mix well, cover and cook until chicken is tender. This should take about 8-10 minutes. Remove the cover and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated.
  7. While the liquid in the chicken evaporates, we can do some multi tasking here. Take 6 cups of water in a rice cooker vessel and switch on the cooker so that water comes to boil. This step can be skipped but would recommended.
  8. In another pan heat ¼ cups of oil, add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, saha jeera, bay leaves and biryani flower. Once these are roasted, add soaked rice. Drain all the water and add the rice.
  9. Saute rice for 3-4 minutes until the rice changes color. Don’t saute it for too long either.
  10. Add rice to boiling water. By this time, water will just start to boil. It is not necessary that water boil and this step (boiling of water) can also be skipped if wanted. If you skipped step 7, put rice in the rice cooker container and add 6 cups of water.
  11. Add chicken mixture on top of the rice and garnish with cilantro, cover the vessel and cook until the rice is done, that is the rice cooker shuts off.
  12. Let it sit for 10 minutes and mix it well.
  13. Serve hot with raitha or salan.
  14. I didn’t add lime to the pulao as I was going to serve it with salan, which is tangy in taste.
  • Pulao can also be cooked in the oven. Follow the above mentioned procedure until step 9, skipping step 7. Preheat the oven to 400F. Spread rice in a rectangular baking dish, spread chicken mixture on top of rice and pour 5½ cups of water. Top it with cilantro, cover with an aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375F and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove and mix the rice and bake it again for another 10-15 minutes or until rice is cooked. I have not baked pulao in along time and the baking time and oven temperatures are approximate numbers. Please use your discretion here.
  • I normally add some chopped mint and I did not use it when I made pulao as I did not have any.  Can add chopped mint along with green chilies.
  • Can substitute tomatoes with yogurt.

I am sending this over to Anita’s Kitchen for her first event, Annam Parbramha Swaroopam, ASP: Rice.

14 thoughts on “Chicken Pulao

  1. Looks yummy, i must say a different style of cooking biryani. Like the color the gravy imparted to the rice. But I did not understand if the rice was partially cooked before the chicken was added.

    For Biryani the rice is partially cooked. For pulao, for this recipe, need not cook the rice. Just saute it in little bit of oil and cook it along with the meat.

  2. I have always cooked chicken biryani this way which you refer to as pulao. Whatever the method it is a big favorite anytime it is made.

    What is in a name, as long as it tastes good, right?

  3. I never really know whether something’s a biryani or pulao, but whatever you call it, this looks yummy!

    I grew up eating hyderabad biryani and the taste is different… and the difference I mentioned in the post is the only difference I could think of…. 🙂

  4. Do you measure the four cups of rice with a rice cooker cup or with a regular 250ml cup? By the way, I made your mutton biryani recipe today and it was delicious. Thanks

    1. I have not prepared it in a pressure cooker but I don’t see why you can not.

      You can try it and let me know how it comes out. You could try using 1:1.5 rice to water ratio and pressure cook the pulao for 3 whistles. As I said, I never prepared it in the pressure cook. This is just a suggestion.

  5. U havent mentioned about the green chillies in the recipe,so- how much and when should u add the garam masala?anyways i added 10 chillies and the g.masala with the other rice and chicken looked nothin like urs at the end:-( nevertheless it was tasty.thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Betty, sorry for the late reply. Your comment went to spam folder and could not reply sooner. Updated the ingredient list with the quantity of green chilies and also the recipe with when garam masala needs to be added. Thanks for bring this is to my attention. I used 12 – 16 green chilies but again, it can be adjusted to taste. I like spicy food so usually add 12 – 16 chilies.

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