Chana Pulao / Pilau – Chickpeas and Rice Pilaf

Chana Pilau - Pakistani Chickpeas and Rice

Here’s another super simple and easy Pilau recipe that I love to prepare on a day when I’m just not bothered to go all out – yes I have those days! Another bonus with this particular pilau is it’s a one-pot meal and uses few spices, so this Chana Pilau is a definite winner.

I particularly love this recipe now that I have my little girl to enjoy it with me. Chickpeas seem to delight most children for some reason unknown to me. Whenever I make my Chana Pilau, my daughter will pick out the chickpeas and inform me – ‘Mama, yummy circle’ and then eat her meal right up! And as any mother will know, it is a joy and relief when they eat a hearty meal!

Chana Pilau - Pakistani Chickpeas and Rice

We always need a handful of recipes to use when we’re having a busy, bad or long day. Whenever I’m having one of those days, I always turn to one-pot rice dinners so I don’t need to make chapattis that night. If you’re anything like me, then Chana Pilau will be an ideal recipe for you!

It requires minimal ingredients (just rice, chickpeas, onions and oil) and a small handful of aromatic whole spices which you’ll probably have on hand if you cook Pakistani, Indian or Bangladeshi food often.

Chana Pilau - Pakistani Chickpeas and Rice

Chana Pilau to me has always been one of those rice dishes that is delicious on it’s own and also goes with anything. Serve it alongside any curry, any chutney or even on it’s own with a simple salad, it does so well! I think it goes particularly well with Chicken Bhuna, Aloo Tikki and Aloo Gosht, but there’s not limit to what you can serve it with! Also, a good raita on the side will do wonders!

Other Pilaus (pilafs) on Fatima Cooks:

Chicken Pilau

Prawn Pilau Biryani

Mattar Pilau

Chana Pilau - Pakistani Chickpeas and Rice

A note on adding yogurt and tomatoes to Pilaus

Some people like adding yogurt and tomatoes to their pilaus. I actually feel really strongly about not adding both those in! I personally find I really don’t like tomatoes in pilaus. Yogurt seems to go fine for me, however my main qualm with these add-ons is that is bulks up the liquid that the rice needs to absorb and makes it more heavy and the rice not as fluffy.

Another issue I have but this is purely a personal issue ha! I’m huge on sticking to traditional methods and ways when it comes to Pakistani food. A traditional Pilau does not contain tomatoes and yogurt. We may develop a personal preference or liking for those add-ons and that’s completely fine! But I always like my Pilaus without the bulk-up.

Simply put, there’s no need to add tomatoes or yogurt!

I also don’t add green chillis to my pilaus – it’s just a personal preference. If you like a slight bit of heat with your rice, feel free to throw in a few green chillis around half way through the first step. If I do want some spice with this meal, I like serving it alongside a spicy salad or chutney.

Chana Pilau - Pakistani Chickpea Pilaf


Enjoy, with love x

EDIT: I have amended the quantity of water used in this recipe to 3 cups of water. Previously, it was vague and not precise and some readers reported trouble getting the quantity right. I have found 3 cups works perfectly with this recipe HOWEVER, if you would like to increase or decrease the amount of water needed, use this formula: Cups of water needed = Cups of rice + 1

Yield: 5

Chana Pulao / Pilau - Pakistani Chickpeas and Rice

Chana Pulao / Pilau - Pakistani Chickpeas and Rice
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 2 cups basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp salt, or to taste
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 whole black cardamoms
  • 1 medium stick cinnamon
  • oil, as needed
  • water, as needed


  1. In a deep pot, heat the oil and add the sliced onions and cumin seeds. Fry till the onions become golden - about 10 minutes. I managed to burn some of my onions - don't do this!
  2. Add a big splash of water and all the spices. Continue to cook this until the onions soften and the water reduced to about half
  3. Add the rice, chickpeas and 3 cups of water
  4. Cook the rice and chickpeas on high heat, stirring once or twice (but not breaking any rice!) until most of the water has dried out.Chana Pilau - Pakistani Chickpeas and Rice
  5. Once the water has dried out, secure a tight fitting lid onto the pot and turn the heat down to the lowest setting, to steam for 10-15 minutes. You can wrap the lid in a clean tablecloth so it absorbs more steam, leading to slightly fluffier and less mushier rice.Chana Pilau - Pakistani Chickpeas and Rice
  6. Allow the rice to rest for 10-15 minutes after steaming, then fluff up before serving warm!
Enjoyed this recipe? Check out even more Pakistani recipes by clicking here!

Chana Pilau / Pulao - Chickpeas and Rice Pilaf

7 thoughts on “Chana Pulao / Pilau – Chickpeas and Rice Pilaf

  1. Salaams
    This recipe is a god sent.
    I’ve had the dish in at my in laws in Pakistan and tried to make it myself many time (trial and error ) no success.
    Until I stumbled apon this blog site.
    Now i can cook this without a second thought
    جزاك الله خير

  2. Same situation as Hina’s comment above. Tried and ended up with a mushy mess. Good recipe as its very simple but can you please be more precise with water in terms of how much should be used? I.e. Cups?

  3. Thought I’d try this today and I ended up with a horrible mushy mess ? is there a more precise water amount you could provide for the two cups of rice?

  4. Ma shaa Allah looks yummy in shaa Allah going to try this next week.. Allah bless you dear for I much appreciate your cooking recipes.. Keep it up!

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