Chicken Pulao

Chicken Pulao (Instant Pot & Stovetop)

Updated: May 17, 2023, By Swasthi, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Chicken Pulao is a one pot rice pilaf made with rice, chicken, spices and herbs. In this post I share my Mom’s Hyderabadi style Chicken Pulao recipe. Though not as popular as Biryani, Pulao is a nutritious, filling and comfort food. This mildly spiced, aromatic and delicious Chicken Pulao is easy to make for a weeknight dinner, ready under 45 minutes. Serve it with Aloo Kurma, Kachumber & Mint Raita.

Chicken Pulao



About Chicken Pulao

Pulao is a close cousin of Biryani and varies in many aspects. It is so much lighter, less spicy & less greasy than a Biryani. This makes it more of a comfort food than a luxurious treat.

In Indian cuisine, vegetable pulao is very popular and is made more often in the homes. However you won’t find Chicken Pulao being made that often since a lot of people love Biryani over pulao.

Growing up, My Mom made this Chicken Pulao more often for a weekend meal. It was served with Kurma or Shorba/ Salan and Raita. Down in South India, a pulao is always served with a gravy side dish like Aloo Kurma, Chicken Kurma, salan or shorba.

Basically a Pulao is a toned-down version of biryani and is a one pot dish that is not layered. We make this Chicken Pulao since it is kids’ friendly and is milder in flavors. A spicy side-dish or a raita pairs very well.

Chicken Pulao can be made in a regular pot, traditional pressure cooker or instant pot. You can find all the 3 methods in this post.

Ingredients & Substitutes

Here are the ingredients you need for a Chicken Pulao:

Rice: I use aged basmati rice for this recipe. You can use any less starchy aged rice to make this chicken pulao. In India every region has their own favorite kind of rice & is used for this dish. But using less starchy aged rice is essential as we don’t want the pulao to turn mushy.

Chicken: Whole bone-in cut chicken (curry cut) is best to make this dish, as the pulao tastes more flavorful due to the marrow goodness. However for years I have made this with boneless chicken to make it toddler/kids’ friendly.

Onions, ginger, garlic, mint leaves and green chilies are the key to make a delicious pulao. If you do not like the flavor of mint leaves, simply use coriander leaves.

Tomatoes: A traditional pulao never uses tomatoes & the original recipe from my Mom never had tomatoes in it. But for some reason I use it a lot of times & sometimes I also substitute tomatoes with yogurt. Both ways the chicken pulao turns delicious. But avoid using a lot of tomatoes especially in the pureed form as you won’t be able to evaporate the excess moisture fast.

Yogurt: Sometimes I use yogurt in the same recipe as a substitute to lemon juice in the marinade or sometimes to replace the tomatoes in the pulao itself. You can find more details in the pro tips section below.

Water/ coconut milk: I use water to cook my chicken pulao. But my Mom would sometimes make this with coconut milk. It adds a different pleasant flavor to the dish. You will use half thick coconut milk and half water.

Spices: Usually whole spices & green chilies are used to flavor the dish. Ground spices are rarely used in a pulao. But I personally love to add red chili powder to the marinade to impart mild heat to the chicken.

More Chicken recipes,
Easy Chicken curry
Chicken korma
Easy Chicken fried rice
Chicken noodles

How to Make Chicken Pulao (Stepwise Photos)

Preparation

To make chicken pulao, you can use bone-in or boneless chicken as per your choice. Let us begin with the marinade. This recipe serves 4. If you want you may halve the quantities to make 2 servings.

1. To a large bowl, add chicken. If the pieces are too large, score the chicken (make slits into the pieces) so they absorb the flavors. Add the following ingredients to a large bowl:

  • 1.6 pounds (750 grams) bone-in chicken or use 1 pound (450 grams boneless)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (reduce for kids)
  • ⅛ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • ¼ to ⅓ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or plain yogurt or curd)

2. Mix well, cover and set aside for 25 mins, until we prepare the rest.

3. Add 2 cups basmati rice to a large bowl and rinse well at least thrice. Soak for 30 mins. Later drain the rice to a colander and get rid of the water completely.

4. Meanwhile prepare the following:

  • 1 large onion (1 cup sliced)
  • 1 small tomato (deseed, peel & slice) or ⅓ cup fresh tomatoes pureed.
  • Pluck and clean ½ to ¾ cup mint leaves & ¼ cup coriander leaves, chop them.
  • Chop or slice 2 to 3 green chilies and keep aside. Leave out the green chilies if making for kids.
  • You will also need 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste.

5. Pick all the following spices required and keep aside.

  • 2 bay leaf
  • 2 star anise
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon cumin (or shahi jeera for better flavors)
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 2-inch Ceylon cinnamon pieces (cut down if using cassia)
  • 8 green cardamoms
  • ¾ teaspoon saunf/fennel or coriander powder (I use fennel, optional)
  • 2 black cardamom (optional)
  • 1 strand mace (optional)
  • Small piece of nutmeg (optional)

Make Chicken Pulao

6. On a medium flame, heat 4 tablespoons oil or ghee in a pot or cooker. When it becomes hot, add all the whole spices & let them sizzle for a minute.

7. Add the onions and green chilies. Stir fry them on a medium heat for 5 to 6 mins. When they begin to brown, reduce the heat slightly and cook further until the onions turn deep golden/ brown but not burnt.

8. Add ginger garlic paste and saute till a nice aroma comes out, for 1 min.

9. Add mint leaves and marinated chicken. Stir fry the chicken on a medium heat for 5 minutes, until the chicken changes its color. If you are using boneless chicken breasts, cut down to 2 to 3 mins.

10. Meanwhile pour 3½ cups water to a pot and add ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt. If you are making in a stovetop pressure cooker use 3¼ cup water & if making in a instant pot use 2½ cups only. Stir and taste test it. It should be slightly salty (remember we have already used salt to marinate the chicken). Heat this water on another burner. Use water according to the kind of your rice.

2 cups aged biryani basmati rice requires 4 cups normally to cook in a pot but I reduce half cup here since we cook the pulao covered and the chicken releases some moisture.

11. Add fennel or coriander powder.

12. Add the tomatoes (optional) to the chicken and cook until all of the moisture from tomatoes evaporates.

13. It is essential to cook until the raw flavor from tomatoes is gone.

14. Pour hot salted water and bring it to a rolling boil. Drian the water completely from the soaked rice and add it here. Mix gently. After adding rice, the water won’t boil rapidly any longer.

15. So cover partially and bring it to a rolling boil on a medium high heat.

16. Cover the pot completely and cook on low to medium-low heat for 7 to 10 mins, until the rice is cooked through & all of the water is absorbed. This step takes me exactly 10 minutes on the stovetop. Later let chicken pulao rest for another 10 mins.

To use a pressure cooker, Cover and cook on a medium until you hear 1 whistle. Let the pressure drop naturally.

17. Taste test and add more salt if you want and squeeze the lemon juice over the salt so it dissolves easily.

Garnish with coriander leaves. If your pualo looks too dry, simply add a tablespoon of ghee at this stage.

Serve chicken pulao with onion raita, mint raita or cucumber raita.

Chicken pulao

Variation – Yakhni Chicken Pulao

To make yakhni chicken pulao, make sure you use larger sized chicken pieces. Follow the recipe as is till you saute chicken. You will follow the 2 additional steps mentioned below to make the yakhni.

Step 1 – Pour 2 cups of hot water and cook the chicken covered for 4 mins. Later remove the chicken aside with a tong and strain the liquid. Measure the liquid and add water as required to make it 3½ cups.

Step 2 – Add the chicken back to the same pot along with the ingredients in the strainer (yes you will use all of them back in the pulao). Also pour the yakhni and bring to a boil. Later add rice and follow the rest as mentioned in the recipe.

Pro Tips

1. Rinse & Soak Rice : Always wash rice at least thrice. This helps the rice grains to remain apart without sticking. Next soak basmati rice for at least 20 mins. This helps the rice grains to expand well while cooking. So you can soak the rice and set aside until you are done with the other preparations.

2. Using whole spices is the key to this chicken pulao. However if you do not have then just replace them with any store bought chicken masala powder or garam masala. Follow the instructions on the pack for the quantity to use.

3. I prefer to use 2 tbsps of yogurt or lemon juice to marinate the chicken. This enhances the dish a lot and the chicken comes out very juicy & succulent without drying out.

4. Mint leaves are a key ingredient in any pulao. If you do not like the flavor, you may simply replace with coriander leaves, add them while sauting the chicken.

chicken pulao

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

chicken pulao recipe

Chicken Pulao Recipe (Instant Pot and Stovetop)

4.97 from 230 votes
Simple one pot chicken pulao made in Indian style with basmati rice, chicken, spices & herbs. Serve this with a raita. I have the Instructions for regular pot, instant pot & pressure cooker.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Servings4
AuthorSwasthi

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 1.6 pounds (750 grams) bone-in skinless chicken (or 1 pound/ 450 grams boneless)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder or green chili paste
  • teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • ¼ to ⅓ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or plain yogurt or curd)

Whole spices

  • 2 bay leaf (Tej patta)
  • 2 star anise
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds (or shahi jeera)
  • 6 cloves (laung)
  • 2 pieces Cinnamon (2 inch pieces, cut down if using cassia)
  • 8 green cardamoms (elaichi)
  • ¾ teaspoon fennel powder or coriander powder (saunf or daniya powder)
  • 2 black cardamom (masala elaichi, optional)
  • 1 strand mace (javitri/ japatri – optional)
  • 1 small piece nutmeg (jaiphal -optional)

Other ingredients

  • 3 to 4 tablespoon ghee (or oil)
  • 1 cup (1 large) onion (thinly sliced)
  • 2 to 3 green chilies (sliced or slit, deseeded for low heat)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • ⅓ cup (1 small) tomatoes (peel, deseed, chop or pureed)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • ½ to ¾ cup mint leaves (pudina, chopped finely)
  • 2 cups aged basmati rice
  • cups water or stock or diluted coconut milk (3¼ cup for stovetop pressure cooker, 2½ cups for instant pot, read notes)
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves (cilantro, chopped fine, to garnish)


Instructions

Preparation

  • Add chicken to a mixing bowl. Score them if the pieces are too large. Add ginger garlic, red chilli powder, turmeric, salt, garam masala and lemon juice. Marinate the chicken and keep covered aside until you prepare the rest.
  • To a bowl, add rice and rinse at least thrice. Pour fresh water & soak for at least 30 minutes while you slice and follow the rest of the steps. Later drain the rice to a colander.
  • Slice and prepare the onions, green chilies, mint and coriander leaves.

How to Make Chicken Pulao On Stovetop

  • To a pressure cooker or pot, pour ghee or oil & heat it on a medium flame. Add all the whole spices & let them sizzle for a minute.
  • Add the onions and green chilies. Stir fry them on a medium heat for 5 to 6 mins. When they begin to brown, reduce the heat slightly and cook further until they turn deep golden/ brown but not burnt.
  • Stir in the ginger garlic paste and saute until aromatic, for a minute. Add the mint leaves and marinated chicken. Stir fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes, until the chicken turns pale. (If using chicken breast cut down to 2 to 3 mins).
  • Meanwhile pour water to another small pot and add salt. Stir and taste test it. It should be slightly salty. Heat this water on another burner.
  • Add fennel or coriander powder, tomatoes to the chicken and cook until all of the moisture from tomatoes evaporates. It is essential to cook until the raw flavor from tomatoes has gone.
  • Pour hot salted water to the pot/cooker and bring it to a rolling boil.
  • Add drained rice and mix gently. Cover partially and bring the water to a rolling boil on a medium high heat (very important step).
  • Cooking in a Pot or Dutch oven: Cover the pot completely and cook on low to medium-low heat for 7 to 10 mins, until the rice is cooked through & all of the water is absorbed. Let chicken pulao rest for another 10 mins.
  • Stovetop Pressure Cooker: Cover the pressure cooker & cook on a medium heat until you hear 1 whistle. Let the pressure drop naturally before you open the lid.
  • Taste test and add more salt if you want and squeeze the lemon juice over the salt to dissolve easily. Garnish chicken pulao with coriander leaves. Use a rice paddle to serve chicken pulao. Onion raita, mint raita or cucumber raita go well with this.

Instant Pot Chicken Pulao

  • Press SAUTE button. Pour oil to the inner pot of the Instant pot.
  • Add all the whole spices & saute for 30 to 60 seconds. Then add the onions and chilli. Saute until transparent or golden. Add the ginger garlic and stir fry for a minute, until aromatic.
  • Next add mint & chicken. Saute for 3 to 4 mins until chicken turns pale.
  • Add fennel or coriander powder & tomatoes. Saute until the tomatoes turn mushy. Ensure the moisture dries up at this stage.
  • Drain the water from the rice completely and add it to the pot.
  • Also pour hot water/ stock or coconut milk and add salt. Mix everything well.
  • Press CANCEL button. Scrape off the bottom of the pot with a spatula to release any bits of spices stuck in there.
  • Secure the Instant pot with the lid. Position the steam release handle to sealing.
  • Press the PRESSURE COOK button (high pressure) for 5 mins.
  • When the IP finishes, it will beep. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 2 to 3 mins.
  • Then release the rest of the pressure manually with the help of a spoon by moving the steam vent from sealing to venting.
  • Remove the steel insert and let cool down for a while. Gently fluff up with a fork. Do not stir the chicken pulao a lot when it is too hot. Garnish with coriander leaves.


Notes

  • This recipe has been tested in a 6 quart Instant Pot, stovetop pressure pan and 5.5 Lts pressure cooker.
  • Water to rice ratio depends on the kind of rice. The given measurements are for aged basmati rice. 1 cup of this rice requires 2 cups water but here I use 1¾ cups water. Adjust the amount of water depending on your rice.
  • Find more tips in the pro-tips section in the post.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.

Video

Watch Chicken Pulao Video

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Chicken Pulao Recipe (Instant Pot and Stovetop)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 615 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Trans Fat 0.1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Cholesterol 100mg33%
Sodium 564mg25%
Potassium 462mg13%
Carbohydrates 69g23%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 26g52%
Vitamin A 565IU11%
Vitamin C 11mg13%
Calcium 83mg8%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Chicken Pulao Recipe first published in Jan 2013. Updated & republished in May 2023.

Chicken Pulao (Instant Pot & Stovetop)

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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5 stars
Made this for lunch at a gathering and everyone loved it. Thanks for the simple and delicious recipe!

5 stars
Made this with jasmine rice and some curry as a side, it was delicious. Thanks for the easy recipe

5 stars
Edit: I realized I was searching only for cilantro as that’s the name used in the ingredients but now realize that it was under the name “coriander leaves” and that it was meant for garnishing. I didn’t know this at the time so I just added it into the pot for cooking along with the mint leaves, but it still turned out wonderful despite doing that!

5 stars
I didn’t know I would be the kind who only trusts one website for perfect outcomes every time. Your recipes, and clear and concise directions, not only make cooking so easy, but also exciting. I know that if i’m making absolutely anything, I will search your website for it first. Why? because
I know I will have guaranteed results, redeeming time, and finger licking balanced flavorful delicousness, EVERY TIME! You have a gift. I thank the Lord for you. Thank you! Btw, as a human, errors are not only possible but are expected once in a while. Small errors, 1. It is not mentioned when to add the 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 2. Under the IP steps it doesn’t mention when to add ginger garlic paste to pot. Also pl include tip on how exactly to add potato as it’s being commonly requested! 10/10

5 stars
Thanks Swasthi. most of yr receipes I hv tried. Yes indeed liked them all.
only tell me has the raw rice to be cooked alongwith the chicken. or shd I par boil the raw rice separately.
thanks a ton.

5 stars
Hello Swasthi,

I would like to try this recipe in stovetop pressure cooker. I have a question regarding that.
Do I have add the rice after water comes to a rolling boil?

Thank you,
Priya

Thank you for your response!
Will try this recipe today.

I made this yesterday and it was very yummy. My kids loved it. I made this only with chicken drumsticks.

Thank you Swasthi for this recipe.

5 stars
Hi Swasthi,
I do not cook regularly but I tried your Yakhni chicken pulao. Turned out really good. The steps were so coear. Delicious beyond words. Loved it.
Would you be able to do a Yakhni mutton pulao recipe ?
Regards
By any chance,

5 stars
Tastes delicious- everyone loved it! Your step by step instructions were very clear & easy to follow. Thanks!

5 stars
This chicken pulao is so good that even my picky 7 yr. old ate up without any fuss. I used sella basmati, added 2 diced potatoes and left out the chilli. Also used broth for liquid & it turned out delicious. My son reserved the leftovers for his next meal.

I read the recipe, watched the video only to realize the green chilies are not in the ingredient list and the ingredient list does not specifically state *skinless* bone-in chicken.

5 stars
Thank you for the easy recipe. After eating this chicken pulao my flatmates said I am a super chef. All credit goes to you. Please post more pressure cooker recipes.

4 stars
Lovely tasty recipe, cooked for the first time this evening. Next time will maybe add some peppers for colour?
Many thanks Swasthi I love your recipes

5 stars
This recipe is so good and easy to make in the IP. Turned out amazing and was speechless. Made it thrice already and I’m sure my family is never going to be bored with this. Thank you.

5 stars
Thank you for the lovely recipe. I’m learning to cook from your recipes. So far so good!!!!! Everything turns out fantastic.

Swasthi, I don’t have basmati . Can I use jeerakashala? And how much water do you think it requires?

5 stars
This is a really excellent chicken pilaf recipe. It came together so fast and is delicious! We served ours with cucumber raita and roasted cauliflower.

5 stars
I made this chicken pulao tonight. To be honest, I have never been the biggest fan of pilaf, but my wife & kids prefer dishes that are less spicy and milder in flavors. It took a bit to track down all of the spices but it was worth the hunt. I can’t wait to try your other Indian recipes!

5 stars
Excellent chicken pulao! I pretty much made as written, including whole spices and garam masala. Very quick, delicious, and healthy! I used chicken breasts so cut down the initial cooking time to 3 mins and left out the chilli but added a large diced potato. Turned out delicious and even my twin toddlers enjoyed it. Thank you for the extremely well written recipes.

5 stars
Delicious chicken pilaf. Left out star anise and black cardamoms, still it turned out great.

5 stars
Thank you for the easy recipe! This chicken pulao is incredibly easy to follow and tasted so amazing. This was my 4th time making this chicken pulao. I follow the recipe exactly and but use chicken stock for water. I love your web site & your amazing recipes! Next is your shami kebab …

5 stars
Awesome recipe