Easy Chicken Pulao with a Donne Biryani style masala that hits all the right notes - flavourful, aromatic rice, juicy, tender chicken and spicy masala. A winning weeknight recipe if there was one!
Pulao cravings hit me hard sometimes. We do vegetable pulao regularly at home, especially for lunch when we want something quick, simple and healthy. But you throw chicken into the mix and you start thinking that it's a lot of work and may even need shopping for some special ingredients.
What if I told you that there is a very simple recipe, an easy one that you can make?
With BIG, BOLD flavours that’ll make your stomach and your taste buds very happy!
Prepping for Chicken Pulao
There are a few simple steps before cooking the pulao
- Wash and soak the jeera samba rice making sure that every grain is fully immersed in the water. Soak it while you prep everything else - just 20-30 minutes is enough. In fact a longer soaking time is not required for jeera samba rice
- If you are using frozen chicken, thaw it first. If not, simply wash the pieces, pat them dry with a kitchen paper towel, and marinate them. 30 minutes of marinating is enough.
- Ingredients of the wet masala are gently fried and coarsely ground to bring out the flavours
Why Jeera Samba Rice?
There’s a reason why jeera samba rice works so well for pulaos. It’s aromatic, gets nice and fluffy as it cooks and the short grains absorb the masala flavours perfectly. Just like any other rice, make sure you wash the rice three to four times to remove any excess starch before soaking it in equal amounts of water.
Did you know that it is called jeera samba rice because the grains are small and resemble cumin seeds? It is the preferred rice in South Indian biryanis.
Should the chicken be bone-in or boneless?
I have found that chicken curry cut tastes best in this pulao. The bone-in chicken pieces remain juicy when cooked, keeping the meat tender.
Marinating the Chicken
This is a simple marinade with turmeric, salt, and ginger garlic paste added to the curd. A lot of marinades use vinegar or lime juice. But, I prefer using curd here because it is gentler on the protein and it works wonders with chicken pieces.
Why whole spices instead of garam masala powder?
I love the unique aroma of each spice when we fry it in ghee or oil. You can always take out the whole spices after the dish is made if you want to avoid biting into it.
Pressure Cooker vs Stovetop
I’ve provided directions in the recipe to make the pulao in the pressure cooker as well as the stovetop. It’s a personal preference but I prefer the stovetop method. Both methods need approx the same amount of time, and both work well.
Whatever method you use, let the pulao rest for 10 minutes before serving.
What makes this recipe so easy is that it doesn't need layering, only a prepared mixture of rice with the masalas and meat before cooking! No one can resist the aromas of the chicken pulao from your kitchen! Add a simple raita, and you are all set to wow your family and friends.
You can add this one to your ‘easy cooking’ list of recipes and keep it handy.
Watch the Video
Easy Chicken Pulao
- 2 Cups Jeera Sambar Rice or any short grain rice (see note 1)
- 2 Cups Water
- 500 Grams Chicken bone in, skinless, cut into 1.5 inch pieces (see note 2)
- ½ Cup Curd
- ½ Tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
- ½ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Oil
- 15 Cloves Garlic
- 2 Inch Ginger cut into chunks
- 3 Onion cut into chunks
- 6 Green Chillies slit lengthwise (see note 3)
- ½ cup fresh grated Coconut thaw if using frozen
- 1 Cup Coriander leaves and stem, loosely packed
- 1 Cup Mint Leaves loosely packed
- 2 Tablespoons Ghee + 1 teaspoon Ghee divided
- 2 Tablespoons Oil
- 4 pods Cardamom
- 4 Cloves
- 1 Inch Cinnamon stick
- 12 Whole Black Peppercorn
- 1 Bay Leaf
- ½ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Coriander Powder
- 2 Tomatoes cubed into half inch pieces
- ¼ Cup Tomato Puree
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 sprig Curry leaves
- Rinse the rice three times and soak it in water. Ensure the rice is fully submerged in two cups water
- Do this step and then start your prep, allowing the rice to soak while you prep everything else - about 20-30 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl, combine washed chicken, curd, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder and salt. Cover and allow to marinade for 30 minutes.
- In a kadai, heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium flame. Once hot, add ginger and garlic and lightly fry for 30 seconds. Add onion and chilli and fry for 4 - 5 minutes or until onions soften. Add coconut and fry for a minute or two. Add coriander and mint leaves and saute until soft, about a minute.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool, grind to a slightly coarse paste. Keep aside.
- Heat oil and ghee over medium heat in a pressure cooker. Once it becomes hot, add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, peppercorn and fry for 30 seconds to a minute.
- When it becomes aromatic, add the ground wet masala and saute till the oil separates, about 5 - 7 minutes. Add turmeric powder and coriander powder and fry for 2 minutes.
- Add tomato puree and marinated chicken and saute for 2-3 minutes on a medium high flame. Add cubed tomatoes and mix.
- Add all the rice along with water and salt and mix to combine. Sprinkle a few curry leaves and a teaspoon of ghee on top.
- Bring the mixture to a quick boil and then reduce the flame, and cover and cook for 20 minutes. Rest covered for 10 minutes before serving.
- Cover the pressure cooker lid and seal with the whistle. Cook on high for 10 - 12 minutes or 2 whistles. Turn off the heat and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- If using the Instant Pot or an electric pressure cooker, cook the chicken under pressure for 4 minutes. Quick release, mix the chicken once, then add rice and water (making sure the rice is submerged completely under water) and pressure cook again for 5 minutes. Quick release and open immediately.
- Rice: Jeera Samba Rice is a variety of short grained rice that's almost the size of jeera (cumin seeds). You can substitute this with any other variety of short grain rice. Since this rice is so small in size, do not soak it for more than 30 minutes.
- Chicken: I highly recommend bone in, skinless chicken for this recipe because of the cooking time. Cuts like chicken breast will dry out. If you prefer using boneless chicken, use chicken thighs
- Chillies: We've used 6 green chillies here. You can go up to 12 for an extra spicy chicken pulao, or go down to 2 for a mild version.