Chicken Pilau – Indian rice dish

Pilau, more known from arabic as pilaf is a rice dish, in this case from India. It’s like like Far East risotto sister, but with completely different flavors. I prepared it with chicken, but you can do a veggie version. 

Preparing the recipe I using my knowledge I’ve got with Agata on the Indian cooking workshops (btw. she created a beautiful blog) and also on a recipe from Maunika Gowardhan blog. Nevertheless, I added some of my ideas also, and it turn out to be delicious.

pilaf with chicken

Ingredients (4 people):

  • 2 chicken legs (cut through joints)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tbsp spoons of olive oil
  • 1 big onion
  • 1,5 cup of basmati rice
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 dried chillies
  • piece of cinnamon stick (long as a thumb)
  • 1 green cardamon seed
  • 1 heaped tbsp of grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • handful of cashews
  • handful of raisins (I added dried cranberries instead)
  • butch of fresh coriander
  • handful of green pea (frozen, not from a can)
  • 2 tbsp warm milk
  • pinch of saffron
  • salt, pepper
  • lemon juice


Wash the chicken and cut it through joints. Rub it with minced garlic, 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp olive oil. Leave for 30 min.

In a meantime chop the onion in feathers. 

On a hot high pan add spices (cumin, cloves, cinnamon, cardamon) and fry for a bit (~2 min), until you smell the flavor – be careful not to to burn it.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the frypan and onions and fry for about 15 minutes until it is caramelized. After this time, add chicken and ginger. Fry until the chicken skin is golden.

Then add rice, water and chilli peppers. Season. Stir it together and cook under lid for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, add a pinch of saffron to warm milk and wait for it to gives color. Then pour into the pan, add the chopped cashews and half the coriander bunch and stir again.
Add green peas and raisins for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Season to taste with pepper and salt.

*Always check if rice / chicken is ready. The chicken should easily go away from the bone, and rice should be al’dente (not overcooked) – if the cooking time you have shortened the better – do not prolong, because you boil 🙂

Serve topped with coriander and topped with lemon juice.

Bon Appetit! 🙂

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