I remember before I got married, I asked my then-fiance now-husband what his favourite food was. He responded, quite sheepishly, ‘I like Pilau and Biryani’.
A little voice inside of me sniggered ‘Oh great. Those are like the most complicated Pakistani recipes ever. You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, Fatima.’
I had to pep-talk myself into not breaking it off.
Well, it turns out Pilau / Pulao (how do you spell it?!) isn’t really that difficult. It’s actually quite simple. I can probably name 5 other Pakistani dishes I find more difficult than Pilau. Which is a relief, because A. my husband really likes my Pilau, B. I do not like Biryani half as much as Pilau and C. I don’t plan on cooking Biryani in the near future. I probably would have regretted cancelling the marriage because of all this.
I’ve experimented with different spices in this recipe and I’ve finally found the one. This is now officially my go-to Chicken Pilau recipe that I will now make with my eyes closed. My husband really enjoyed this one.
The game changer in this is the ghee. Legitimately, using ghee will transform your Chicken Pilau. Every grain of rice was moist and buttery… just what I like in my rice. If you don’t have ghee, you can use oil but I can’t vouch for the same delicious results the ghee-version will produce. The ghee gives it a rich, melt-in-your-mouth taste and the most enticing aroma. Butter is also another option, but I personally have never used it so I can’t guarantee how it will turn out. Oil is completely fine too – I use it often when I don’t have ghee to hand. In fact, when I was pregnant with my little girl, I developed an aversion to ghee so oil was my go-to during this time for Pilau.
Also, I used this chicken stock/broth recipe as the base for the Pilau instead of water. It definitely adds a deeper dimension of flavour and richness. If you have the time, I highly recommend going through the extra effort of making the broth the day before, especially since the ‘extra effort’ is just letting the broth simmer on the stove-top without as much as a peep.
I’ve included some pictures of the cooking process as I understand this isn’t an easy dish, especially since it isn’t just a matter of dumping everything into one pot and having it magically transform into a meal. Due to the time of day when I cooked, some of the pictures aren’t very clear and some were so bad I couldn’t post them! But if you have any more questions, do ask.
Serve with raita (cucumber and yogurt), salad and shami kebabs!
Enjoy, with love x
Scroll down past the recipe to see more Pilau recipes available on Fatima Cooks!
Edited 13/06/2019 – I have edited the quantity of ingredients by upping the chicken from 750g to 1kg. I find this quantity gives a better chicken to rice ratio. Feel free to use the previous measurements if you have been making this recipe and found the old quantity to be A-OK!
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