Chicken Yakhni Pulao


Here’s a tried and true recipe for Yakhni Chicken Pulao that guarantees rich flavors, succulent chicken, and perfectly fluffy rice. It’s simple to prepare and can be doubled effortlessly, making it ideal for entertaining guests. Tried, tested, and perfected!

Preparation time: 10 min
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 min
Resting time: 20 min
Total time: 1 hour 50 min
Serves: 4


Broth (Yakhni):

  • 1 1/4 lb bone-in, cut up, skinless chicken, cleaned
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 medium dried bay leaf
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 3/4 cups water

For the Pulao:

  • 1 medium dried bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed oil
  • 3 tbsp ghee, or sub butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 small green chili peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, finely chopped or roughly pureed in food processor
  • 6-7 garlic cloves, crushed or very finely chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, crushed or very finely chopped
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 2-inch piece cinnamon stick, optional
  • 3/4 tsp coriander seeds, roughly crushed using a mortar & pestle
  • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 black cardamom, optional
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups aged, long-grain basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 tbsp yogurt, whisked

For Garnishing:

  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped


Broth (Yakhni):

  1. Place a stock pot or lightweight Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Add all the ingredients listed under ‘Broth (Yakhni)’ and stir to mix. Ensure the water covers most of the meat.
  3. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Use a slotted spoon to remove any large scum that rises to the surface if needed.
  4. Reduce the heat to low so that it simmers gently. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through but not falling off the bone. Turn off the heat.
  5. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the broth. Cover and set it aside.
  6. Place a bowl under a strainer and strain the onion & spices from the broth (yakhni). Discard excess onion and whole spices. Measure out the liquid; it should come to 2 3/4 cups. If not, add water to make it 2 3/4 cups.

Chicken Pulao:

  1. To prepare the Pulao, start by washing the rice until the water runs clear and then soaking it in water. Set it aside.
  2. Next, heat oil and ghee in a nonstick Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté them until they turn golden brown, which should take about 10-12 minutes. Deglaze the pan with ¼ cup water and then add the whole spices, garlic, and ginger. Sauté for another minute or two until aromatic.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the chicken, allowing it to lightly sear for 2-3 minutes while stirring occasionally. Stir in the salt, green chili peppers, tomatoes (if using), and yogurt, and sauté gently until the oil starts to separate, approximately 3 minutes.
  4. Add the broth to the pot and bring it to a boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning, ensuring it’s slightly saltier than desired as it will mellow out once the rice is added.
  5. Meanwhile, drain the soaked rice thoroughly. Once the broth boils, add the drained rice and gently stir to mix. Bring it to a boil again, then reduce the heat to medium. Partially cover with the lid and allow it to simmer undisturbed for 5 minutes.
  6. Layer the lid with a kitchen cloth or tea towel and seal it tightly. Allow the Pulao to steam for a few seconds, feeling the steam escaping from the sides of the pan. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let it cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it rest for another 10-15 minutes without peeking or stirring.
  7. Finally, sprinkle garam masala, black pepper, cilantro, and mint over the Pulao. Keep it covered until ready to serve. Use a rice paddle to transfer the rice onto a serving tray, gently stirring if needed to prevent clumps. Serve with cucumber raita, mint raita, or plain yogurt.

For perfectly cooked rice in your Pulao, ensure the rice is soaked for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This helps the grains cook evenly and prevents them from sticking together.

Nutritional Info:
Calories: 636
Carbs: 66g
Protein 20g
Fat 33g

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