Chicken Pillau is a hearty rice dish made with basmati rice, chicken and aromatic spices like cumin and coriander. Thi is my variation on this North Indian rice dish which is also gluten free. It is preferable to use chicken on the bone as more flavour and minerals are extracted from the bones during the cooking process. Boneless chicken may also be used if you wish but the dish will be less flavourful.
This dish uses pre-soaked rice which should be done as advance preparation
1 chicken jointed.
1 large onion
1 tbsp yoghurt
2-3 tbsp organic clarified butter
3 tsp cumin seeds
3 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black pepper corns
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp Himalayan rock salt or Celtic sea salt (or salt to taste)
2 mugs basmati rice which have been pre-soaked for 2-4 hours
4 mugs bone broth (optional)
- Wash the basmati rice then cover with water and allow to soak for around 2-4 hours
- Prepare the spices to make a spice mix called garam masala. Add the spices: cumin seed, coriander, black peppercorns, cinnamon and cloves to a heavy bottomed frying pan.
Gently dry fry the spices until they are releasing an aroma and have slightly browned.
- Place the toasted spices in a coffee grinder. If you do not have a coffee grinder, use a pestle and mortar to crush the spices otherwise leave the toasted spices whole.
- Grind spices to a fine powder. Store any unused garam masala in a clean glass jar.
- Peel and chop onion into thin slices. In a large cooking pan, melt clarified butter and add chopped onion.
- Cook until onions have turned golden brown.
- Remove onions from pan, place in a blender with 1 cup of water and blend until smooth.
- Add chicken and yoghurt to the cooking pan.
- Sauté the chicken on a medium heat until the chicken is sealed and is lightly browned. At this stage the yoghurt thickens and separates from the fat.
- Add bone broth or water to the blended onion mixture so that the total volume is twice that of the rice.
In this case the total volume should be 4 mugs as the recipe uses 2 mugs of rice.
- Pour this mixture into the pan with the chicken.
- Add 3 tsp of the garam masala, the bay leaf and salt to the chicken stock mixture.
- Stir and bring to the boil, when bubbling turn the heat low and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
The stock develops an intense aromatic flavour.
- Turn the heat back up, drain the rice and add to the bubbling stock.
- Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Now turn the heat to low and place a diffuser under the cooking pan. This helps to distribute heat evenly and allows the rice to steam cook until tender. This should take around 10-15 minutes. If you do not have a diffuser then a flat griddle or large frying pan may be used. Alternatively the rice may be finished off by placing it in a pre-heated oven until tender.
- When cooked, fluff up the rice.
In my family, chicken pillau is traditionally served with a mixture of cucumber and yoghurt.
The chicken may be replaced with other meats like lamb, turkey or beef