Yakhni Pulao

I like Pulao better than Biryani. Sue me! Although I end up making biryani more often because my husband seems to enjoy Millennial Biryani more, Pulao will always be my favorite. When I go home to Lahore, the first thing I request (read insist) after a cup of chai is a steaming pot of Yakhni Pulao, always served with a cooling raita studded with fresh vegetables, and if I’m feeling a little extra, some Aloo ke Kabab as well. While to my dad, goat ka pulao is the true thing, we’ve added chicken pulao to the mix for a nice change. And that is what I’m going to show you how to make today!

I shared this recipe as part of my Evolving Traditions series on instagram, and Ive finally gotten around to adding it here, because it’s worth it!

Here’s what you’ll need for 3-4 people:

For the Yakhni (broth):

1/2 bone in chicken, cut into pieces ( you can add a hole chicken, but I like more rice thank chicken in my pulao)

1/2 onion, cut into large pieces

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)

1/2 tsp salt

6-8 pepper corns

1 cinnamon stick

2 Black Cardamom (kaali alaichi)

Enough water to cover the chicken by an inch

For the Pulao:

2 cups rice, pre soaked

4 Tblspn oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 tomato, chopped

3-4 green chillies, halved

1 Tblspn ginger garlic paste

1/2 tsp laal mirch

salt to taste (I usually add 1 tsp)

The list of ingredients may seem long, but that’s how you get all that flavor into the yakhni.

Start off by adding all the ingredients listed under yakhni in a large pot and bringing it to a boil, Once it comes to a boil lower the flame , cover the pot and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Let it cool slightly, then drain the stock into a large bowl. Set the chicken aside and discard the spices and onion.

In a large pan sauté the sliced onions in the oil until a light golden brown. Once the onions are golden brown add a splash of water or yakhni, just a couple tablespoons to stop the onions from burning. Then add the chicken, chopped green chilies, chopped tomato, ginger garlic paste and the salt and laal mirch. Sauté on a medium flame till the masala cooks down a bit and the chicken get some color on it. This step locks the moisture into the chicken so it doesn’t dry out, and also keeps the flavor in. Cover and cook the chicken on a medium, low flame for about 5 minutes, or till the oil separates.

Drain the soaked rice. (It should soak for a minimum of 20 minutes) Add the rice to the chicken and mix well. Then add enough yakhni to cover the chicken and rice by one inch. Let it come to a boil then simmer uncovered until most of the yakhni has absorbed into the rice. You should still be able to see large bubbles forming. Once it’s at that stage cover the pot, lower the flame to a dum and let it cook on dum for about ten minutes. The time may not always be exact, but a good tell is when steam starts escaping from the lid.

Then all you have to do is enjoy it!

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