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Chicken Pulao Recipe

Chicken pulao is an Indian rice curry made from slow cooked chicken, spices, and aromatic vegetables.

Chicken pulaos can be served as either a main course or side dish, depending on how much time you have.

The name “pulao” comes from the word “pulav” which means steamed.

This type of cooking method gives it more of a fluffy texture than other curries like stir-fry.

What Is Chicken Pulao?

Pulao is traditionally eaten during lunchtime but there are many variations of this dish.

The most common ones include chicken gravy (chicken stock), potatoes, peas, carrots, and sometimes cauliflower.

The best part about this dish is that you can make it any size you want because it cooks down so quickly in the pressure cooker.

It also makes use of all your pantry staples.

If you don’t have certain things lying around, no problem!

You can substitute them out easily enough by using different veggies instead.

For example, if you aren’t fond of cauliflower, you could swap it out for spinach or even broccoli.

Chicken Pulao Recipe

How long does chicken pulao take to cook?

You will need at least 12 minutes per pound of meat.

So, for 2 pounds of chicken breasts, approximately 30 minutes should suffice.

However, you may not need to add the last 5 minutes of cooking time since you might already be done with everything else before then.

Do I need to season my chicken pulao?

There isn’t really any seasoning needed when making this dish.

You just want to keep the flavors balanced and tasty.

That said, you can always sprinkle salt onto the finished product.

This will help bring out the savory taste that everyone loves.

Is chicken pulao healthy?

Yes, it is absolutely delicious and nutritious!

Since it uses lean cuts such as thighs and drumsticks, you won’t find yourself feeling bloated after eating it.

If you are worried about sodium intake, don’t fret!

There are only 3 grams of total fat content found in 1 cup of chicken pulao.

And, if you eat half of what you make, you’ll still get plenty of nutrition without having to worry too much about your waistline.

What Are The Ingredients In Chicken Pulao?

There are many different types of chicken pulaos out there.

Some recipes include just chicken (or even beef) along with all your standard pantry staples such as onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, green chilies, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, peppercorn, fennel, turmeric powder, garam masala, and saffron threads.

Some versions also add potatoes, carrots, peas, mushrooms, bell peppers, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, beans, mung dal, lentils, eggplant, okra, chickpeas, or squash.

But no matter what kind of chicken pulao you choose, they will always start off with a base of white basmati rice.

The rice acts as both a thickener and a starch so it adds extra body to each bite of this delicious dish.

Chicken Pulao Recipe2

How Do You Make Chicken Pulao?

Soaking some basmati rice overnight will give your dishes a better texture when they come out of the pan.

Place 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice into a medium saucepan, then add 3 cups water.

Bring to a boil over high heat before reducing the heat to low and covering with a tight fitting lid.

Cook until tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes.

Remove cover.

Fluff with a fork and set aside.

In another medium saucepan, bring 2 quarts of salted water to a rapid boil over high heat.

Add half of the soaked rice and cook until al dente (tender but still firm), approximately 5 minutes.

Drain well by running cold water through the grains while lifting them up from the bottom.

Add all of the remaining ingredients except the yogurt to the same saucepan used for the rice and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.

If using store bought garam masala, add it now.

Meanwhile, prepare the chicken by cutting each breast into three equal pieces.

Season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat and sear the chicken breasts until golden brown and crispy, turning once, 8 to 10 minutes total.

Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

When the chicken is done, remove the saucepan from the stove and return the chicken to the pan.

Stir in the reserved rice, breaking apart any clumps and distributing the rice evenly throughout the pan.

Reduce the heat to low and let simmer uncovered for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally so nothing burns at the bottom of the pan.

You want the rice mixture to thicken slightly.

Once the chicken has finished cooking, stir the yogurt gently into the hot rice mixture.

Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and serve immediately.

What Is The History Of Chicken Pulao?

This dish was originally created by the Mughals in India.

The cuisine has since been adapted over many centuries and now makes up half of all food consumed in India.

Pulao literally translates into “cooked in a pan”.

However, this doesn’t mean that you need to cook your entire dish in a single pan.

You can easily use two pans at once if you prefer not to crowd your stovetop.

Some recipes call for making the base first before adding the meat.

Others will begin with the meat and then add the base ingredients after they have simmered together and become soft enough to eat.

Either way, there are endless variations to try out.

A lot of people don’t know what exactly goes into chicken pulao because it isn’t always clear where the original recipe came from.

There were likely several regions in India where chefs developed their own versions of this dish.

Since ancient times, chicken pulao has been used throughout Asia as a staple food and is often considered comfort food.

Nowadays, this dish can also be found across Europe and North America.

There are even some countries who serve it as part of their national dishes.

For example, China serves it during New Year celebrations.

In Japan, it is known as chakanmai (which literally translates into “soup with egg”).

While South Korea uses it as a filling for dduk bokji (which translates into “rice cakes stuffed with ground beef”).

And finally, Vietnam also incorporates this recipe into its traditional dishes.

In addition to being popular in Asian cultures, this dish is also enjoyed in Africa and Latin American countries.

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What Are The Different Types Of Chicken Pulao?

There are many variations in this popular Indian cuisine but here we will focus on three common styles of chicken pulao.

All three versions use similar ingredients and techniques while offering slightly different flavors.

  • Basic Chicken Pulao – The most basic version uses boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts. You may also add extra spice by adding red chili powder, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and coriander seeds (optional).
  • Spicy Chicken Pulao – Some people prefer their chicken pulao spicy so they add hot peppers like jalapeno or serrano chilies. These peppers are added at the end when the dish has been simmered down. If you want your food hotter, feel free to increase the amount of chillies used.
  • Vegetarian Chicken Pulao – You can make vegetarian chicken pulao by replacing the meat with any vegetable such as eggplant, cauliflower, okra, potatoes, carrots, etc. Vegetables take longer to cook so if you choose this option, reduce the amount of oil used in the recipe to help speed up the process. Add salt and fresh ground black pepper after the dish has finished simmering.

How Do You Serve Chicken Pulao?

You can make this chicken pulao recipe in two ways.

You could cook it all together at once, or you could break up the steps into several smaller batches so that each step can be done individually.

The choice really depends on your kitchen space and whether you want to spend extra time cooking.

  • One Pot – If you don’t mind spending extra time on cooking, then go ahead and cook everything together in one big pan. Once the chicken is fully browned, add the aromatics (onion and ginger) and let them soften while stirring continuously until fragrant. Add the garlic paste, turmeric powder, coriander powder, chili flakes, paprika, and salt. Then add the stock cubes, red lentils, and water. Let the mixture simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan. When the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, transfer the contents of the pan to a serving bowl. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and sliced green chilies if desired. Serve hot.
  • Separate Steps – To save yourself some time, you can separate the ingredients and cook them separately before putting them back together. For example, start off by sautéing the onion and ginger on low heat. Once they become soft and translucent, add the garlic paste and mix well. Next, add the turmeric powder, coriander powder, chili flakes, paprika, and salt. Keep mixing these dry spices constantly, stirring every few seconds. After 15 to 20 seconds, pour in 1/3 cup of water and keep stirring. When the water evaporates completely, turn the stove down to medium heat and continue to stir frequently. In another pan, add the stock cube(s), red lentils, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove half the saucepan’s contents and set aside. Now, add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan along with 1/4 cup of water and bring to a rolling boil. Cover again and let simmer for approximately 30 minutes. While that’s happening, prepare the rest of the dish. Take out half of the rice and place it in a large serving bowl. Pour half the sauce onto the rice and toss gently to combine. Repeat process with the other half of the rice and sauce. Mix gently until combined. Sprinkle the top with chopped cilantro leaves and serve warm.

What Are Some Popular Chicken Pulao Recipes?

There are many different variations of chicken pulao around India, but there are two basic versions that most people know about.

The first version uses shredded chicken pieces instead of ground meat in the sauce.

This variation is called tandoori chicken pulao.

Tandoori chicken pulao is very spicy with red chili pepper and garam masala.

If you would rather not use so much spice in your dish then try this second version of chicken pulao below.

  • Tandoori Chicken Pulao (pictured above)
  • Kerala Style Chicken Pulao

Kerala Style Chicken Pulao Recipe

This recipe takes advantage of the flavors found in Kerala cuisine by using coconut milk, tamarind paste, and ginger garlic paste.

You will need to make these ingredients ahead of time if you want to get a good result.

The best way to prepare all three of them together is to simmer them down until they become thickened into a rich sauce.


  • 1 pound boneless chicken thighs (or breasts) cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup long grain white basmati rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
  • 2 tablespoons Tamarind Paste
  • 1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Milk Powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 green chile sliced
  • Basil leaves for garnish


  • Heat 2 teaspoons of ghee over medium high heat in a large pan. Once hot add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes stirring frequently. Add the turmeric, cayenne pepper, and salt and cook for another minute before adding the garlic and remaining ghee.
  • Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes before turning off the heat.
  • While waiting for the chicken to cool slightly, combine the white basmati rice, water, and salt in a rice cooker. Cook according to manufacturer instructions.
  • Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle, shred it into bite sized pieces using two forks. Combine half of the shredded chicken with the tomatoes, lime juice, and basil leaves in a bowl.
  • In a separate pan, melt the last tablespoon of ghee over medium heat and add the rest of the shredded chicken along with the tamarind paste, ginger garlic paste, coconut milk powder, and salt and cook for 4 minutes stirring constantly.
  • Stir the contents of both pans together and allow everything to come up to temperature before serving.

Tips when preparing chicken pulao

If you don’t have a rice cooker, simply follow the same directions listed above except place the rice directly into boiling water instead of prepping it beforehand.

Be careful not to overcook the rice because it will lose its crunchiness.

Also, you should always check the seasoning of the chicken after cooking because too salty or sweet may ruin the taste of the dish.

What Are Some Tips For Making Chicken Pulao?

Making your own chicken pulao may seem intimidating at first, but don’t worry because there are plenty of resources available online to help guide you through the process.

You just need to know what ingredients you will use and how to prepare them properly so they won’t end up in the trash can.

  • If you are new to this sort of cuisine, then start by learning about different types of rice used in South Asian cuisine. There are many varieties that come in white, brown, black, red, wild, and even glutinous (sticky) rice. The best option depends upon your preferences and dietary restrictions.
  • Read reviews and follow step-by-step instructions before starting any sort of project. If possible, try to do something similar before attempting anything new.
  • When preparing the rice for the pulao, you want to make sure to wash very well beforehand. This includes rinsing in lukewarm water until the water runs clear. You should also soak the grains overnight if you plan on using them fresh.
  • You should also take care when cutting onions. Make sure they are not too soft or raw, otherwise you risk burning yourself.
  • Make sure to purchase high quality stock, preferably organic. Stock is important for adding depth of flavor to dishes such as this one.
  • Don’t forget to salt everything! Salt enhances flavors while drawing out moisture. Salting helps tenderize meat and keeps food moist during cooking. When salting, add salt gradually rather than all at once to avoid overdoing it.

What Are Some Common Mistakes People Make When Making Chicken Pulao?

When I started making this recipe, I was nervous about the amount of steps to follow.

After trying several times though, I found out that there were only four things I had to remember in order to get the best results possible.

  • Make sure your ingredients are all prepped before starting the actual cooking process. For example, if you’re using fresh ginger root, peel off any excess skin first so it doesn’t burn during the cooking process.
  • Always use a heavy bottomed pan. You don’t want to end up with burnt rice because the pan isn’t hot enough.
  • Don’t over cook your chicken. The meat should still be slightly pink inside but not raw.
  • Add water at different points throughout the cooking process. Adding too little will result in dry chicken whereas adding too much won’t achieve the right consistency. Add just enough water until the chicken has become fully cooked.

What Are Some Variations Of Chicken Pulao?

There are many different types of chicken pulao recipes out there and they all use slightly different ingredients.

You should always read through the recipe instructions before starting so you know exactly what to expect.

One popular variation is this chicken pulao recipe where the meat gets cooked in coconut milk instead of water.

You could also try adding fresh herbs such as basil or cilantro or even add chopped onions into your mix.

The choice is yours!

Chicken Pulao Recipe3

Chicken Pulao Recipe

Chicken pulao is an Indian rice curry made from slow cooked chicken, spices, and aromatic vegetables.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Chicken Pulao Recipe
Servings: 4
Calories: 659kcal


  • 1 Pot
  • 1 Pan


  • 1 lb bone-in chicken
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 ½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 6 cashews
  • ¼ cup red onion
  • 2 green chiles
  • 1 sprig curry leaf
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • salt
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 5 mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder


  • In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil. Bay leaves, cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon should be added to this. until fragrant, sauté.
  • Cashews should be added and sautéed till light golden.
  • Add onion slices, green chillies, curry powder, salt, and turmeric next and continue to cook on medium heat until onions are golden brown.
  • Ginger and garlic, both minced, are added. Cook until the raw scent disappears.
  • Stir in the chicken well. Chicken should be covered and cooked on a medium-low heat until nearly done.
  • Add the mint, cilantro, red chilli powder, garam masala powder, cumin powder, and coriander powder next. Mix well.
  • Mix thoroughly after adding water. As necessary, adjust the seasoning. Rice should be added to boiling water and gently stirred in after that.
  • Cook for 6 to 8 minutes on high heat. After that, cover the pan and cook on a low heat while gently tossing the rice until all the water has evaporated.
  • Serve hot with onion or cucumber raita.



Calories: 659kcal | Carbohydrates: 83g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 233mg | Potassium: 467mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1337IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 3mg
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