Best chicken pulao

Mallika Basu - Best chicken pulao

Posted 26th October 2007



This week I faced 1600 blond, mostly pre-pubescent girls and boys with 800 bottles of wine.

Yes. It was the annual UK public relations awards extravaganza.

My boss tried to warn me: “It’s heeeeeuuuuggge“. I donned a little black dress and very high stilletos. But nothing could have prepared me for this.

The reception area was a bomb shelter for young PR bunnies. The main ballroom a heaving tribute to the champagne/wine industry. The loos… maybe some other time.

Old. Brunette. Lost. Sober. I was completely out of place.

A three-course meal, 27 award categories and 10 minutes of terrible dancing later I called it a night. Stilettos off at home, I needed to centre myself before crashing out.

Normally chicken pulao does the trick. A big pot does dinner, post drinks and breakfast the morning after. But this needs planning. And who plans anything mid-week?

Leftover gobi mussallam and cooked frozen paratha it was. Served with a blob of mango pickle.

I passed out almost immediately. Ready for another day. And yet another PR crisis… Here is my recipe for the best chicken pulao in the meantime, fluffy and moreish.

Feeds 4-6:

2 cups rice (about 350 gm)

1 cup natural, low fat yogurt

6 skinless chicken thighs and drumsticks

2 medium onions, sliced fine

4 green chillies, chopped roughly

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 star anise

2 tsp whole cumin

2 inches cinnamon

2 large bay leaves

1 inch ginger and 4 garlic cloves, pureed

3 tbsp sunflower oil

Salt to taste

In a large pot, bring the oil to heat over a high flame. When it is hot, add the whole spices.

As they sizzle up in seconds add the onions and fry for five minutes until golden brown.

Then add the ginger and garlic and fry for another five minutes until the whole mixture goes a darker shade of brown. Add the turmeric, the chillies and the chicken.

Stir vigorously for five minutes until the chicken is brown all over. Now, add the yogurt and leave the chicken to cook on a high flame, stirring regularly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. If it does, add a little water.

After 10 minutes, stir in the rice and fry for a minute or so. Then add 4 cups of hot water, salt to taste, cover the pot and leave to cook.

Once you have done this, don’t stir the rice because it will get all mushy.

When the water dries up and the rice is cooked, the pulao is ready. Serve hot or cold, this will hit a spot either way.

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