Spicy Chicken Pulao

4.50 from 6 votes

This Spicy Chicken Pulao is a one-pot dish made using bone-in chicken, onions, tomatoes, and Indian spices. It can be made in an instant pot or a pan over the stovetop for quick meals.

Try out my Chicken Biryani and Chicken Fried Rice, too.

Chicken pulao served in a bowl.
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About Spicy Chicken Pulao

Spicy Chicken Pulao is a one-pot recipe where bone-in moist chicken pieces are cooked with rice, onions, tomatoes, and mild Indian spices.

It has all the flavors of chicken biryani but is much easier and quicker to make. Chicken pulao is a great dish for quick weekday dinners.

Serve this comforting and wholesome pulao with a simple raita and papad for a scrumptious meal. To make it even more indulgent, top it with crispy fried onions (Birista), fried nuts like cashew nuts and almonds, fresh mint, and cilantro.

I am sharing the recipe for making it in an instant pot and over the stovetop. Choose the one that suits you best.

This gluten-free recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. I cooked it in my 3-quart instant pot, but if you want to double or triple the recipe, use a 6-quart instant pot. The cooking time will remain the same.

Ingredients

To Marinate The Chicken

Chicken – Use bone-in skinless chicken for the best flavors. The bones release a lot of juice while cooking, making this easy chicken pulao recipe delicious.

If bone-in chicken is not your thing, use boneless chicken breasts or thighs.

Yogurt – Marinate the chicken with thick plain yogurt (dahi, curd). 

Others – You will also need ginger-garlic paste, mint leaves, cilantro (fresh coriander leaves), and basic spices like Kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric powder, and garam masala powder.

You can also add some coriander powder and cumin powder to the marinade.

For The Pulao

Rice – For the best chicken pulao recipe, use the best quality long-grain basmati rice. However, any non-sticky white rice will work.

You can replace white rice with brown rice, quinoa, or couscous, but the amount of water used and cooking time will vary.

Ghee – I like to cook the pulao in ghee, but you can use any cooking oil.

Liquid – I have used water to cook the rice and chicken, but you can replace water with chicken broth or thin coconut milk.

Adding coconut milk will give you a slightly different flavor, which will be very different but very delicious.

Whole Spices – You will need regular whole spices like cloves (laung), cinnamon (dalchini), and black cardamom (badi elaichi).

You can also add bay leaves (tejpatta), star anise (chakri phool), green cardamom (hari elaichi), and black peppercorns (kali mirch) to this recipe.

When added to hot oil, these whole spices add a delicious flavor and aroma to the chicken pulav.

Fresh Ingredients – You will need fresh ingredients like onions (red or white), green chilies, ginger-garlic paste, fresh tomatoes, freshly squeezed lime juice, mint, and cilantro (fresh coriander leaves).

You can adjust the green chilies as per your taste. If you do not like spicy food or making it for your kids, you can completely avoid adding it.

How To Make Chicken Pulao

In An Instant Pot

Soak The Rice

Rinse 2 cups of long-grain basmati rice with water 2-3 times until the water runs clear.

Soak the rice in 5-6 cups of water for 20 minutes.

Soaked rice in a bowl.

Marinate The Chicken

Add the following ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix well using your fingers.

  • 1 pound (500 g) bone-in skinless chicken (cut into 1-½ inch pieces)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 3 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
marination ingredients added to a bowl.

Note – If using boneless chicken, then use 10.5 oz (300 g) cut into 1-inch pieces.

Leave aside for 30 minutes.

Marinated chicken.

Cook The Chicken

Press the SAUTE button on the Instant Pot.

Saute button on instant pot pressed.

Add 3 tablespoon ghee to the pot.

Ghee added to the pot.

Once the ghee is hot, add the following whole spices and saute for 4-5 seconds.

  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2-inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole black cardamoms
Whole spices added to the pot.

Add 1 cup of thinly sliced onions and cook until slightly browned (6-8 minutes), stirring frequently.

Onions added to the pot.

Add 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir at regular intervals.

Ginger garlic paste added to the pot.

Now add 3-4 green chilies (slit into half) and 1 cup of finely chopped tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Green chilies and tomatoes added to the pot.

Add the chicken with the marinade and mix well.

mrinated chicken added to the pot.
Mixed well.

Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring regularly.

Pan covered with a lid.
Half cooked chicken in the pot.

Make The Chicken Pulao

Drain the rice and add it to the instant pot along with the following ingredients.

  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and ¾ cups of water

Stir gently to combine.

Rice added to the pot.
Lime juice, salt and water added to the pot.

Close the lid of the instant pot and press the PRESSURE COOK button.

Lid of the instant pot closed.

Set the timer to 6 minutes at high pressure.

Timer set to 6 minutes.

Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.

Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid of the pot.

Cooked chicken pulao.

Fluff the chicken pulao with a large spoon.

Garnish with fried onions, chopped cilantro, and mint, and serve hot with raita.

Chicken pulao fluffed with a large spoon.

In A Pot Over The Stovetop

Soak the rice and marinate the chicken, as mentioned above.

Follow the steps to cook the chicken until adding the chicken to the pot over medium-high heat.

Add the chicken and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid.

Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.

Drain the rice and add it to the pot along with lime juice, salt, and 3 cups of water. Stir gently to combine.

Cover the pan with the lid and cook undisturbed on low heat for 20-25 minutes until the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked.

Fluff the pulao with a large spoon.

Garnish with fried onions, chopped cilantro, and mint, and serve hot with raita.

In A Traditional Pressure Cooker

To make chicken pulao in a traditional pressure cooker, follow the pot over the stovetop recipe (but in a pressure cooker) until adding the rice.

Now pressure cook for 3 whistles on high heat and remove the cooker from the heat.

Let the pressure release naturally.

Then, open the lid and fluff the pulao.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my pulao mushy?

There could be two reasons for mushy pulao.
1. The rice-to-water ratio is not correct. Measuring the rice and water correctly is very important to get perfectly fluffy pulao. I use standard cups and spoon measurements to measure my ingredients.
2. The heat for cooking is not appropriate. The pulao must be cooked undisturbed on low heat until the rice absorbs the liquid and is cooked perfectly.

Variations

Green Masala – Blend 1 cup cilantro, ½ cup mint leaves, and 1-2 green chilies, and add this paste to the pulao recipe to make green chicken pulao.

Mild Chicken Pulao – Skip adding the spice powders and make a very mild chicken ka pulao using only whole spices. The whole spices add a delicious flavor and aroma to this pulao.

Saffron – Add 15-20 strands of saffron soaked in milk while cooking the pulao.

Potato & Peas – You can add big chunks of potatoes and green peas to the pulao.

Veggies – You can add vegetables like carrots, green peas, methi (fenugreek leaves), spinach leaves, or green beans to this pulao to make it more filling and healthier.

Coconut Milk – Replace water with thin coconut milk for an added flavor and creamy texture.

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Chicken Pulao is a one-pot chicken dish made using bone-in chicken, onions, tomatoes, and Indian spices. Make it for your everyday quick meals.
4.50 from 6 votes

Spicy Chicken Pulao Recipe

his Spicy Chicken Pulao is a one-pot chicken dish made using bone-in chicken, onions, tomatoes, and Indian spices. Make it in an instant pot or in a pan over the stovetop for your everyday quick meals.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Soaking and Marination Time: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups Basmati rice

To Marinate The Chicken

  • 1 pound bone-in skinless chicken (500 g, cut into 1 and ½- inch chunks. If using boneless chicken, then use 300 g, cut into 1-inch pieces, rinsed)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (dahi, curd)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
  • 3 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (fresh coriander leaves)

For The Pulao

  • 3 tablespoons ghee (or cooking oil)
  • 3-4 cloves (laung)
  • 2 inch piece of cinnamon stick (dalchini)
  • 2 whole black cardamoms (badi elaichi)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 3-4 green chilies (slit into half)
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
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Instructions 

Soak The Rice

  • Rinse the rice with water 2-3 times until the water runs clear.
  • Soak the rice in 5-6 cups of water for 20 minutes.

Marinate The Chicken

  • Add chicken, yogurt, ginger garlic paste, Kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, salt, mint, and cilantro to a large mixing bowl and mix well using your fingers.
  • Leave aside for 30 minutes.

Cook The Chicken

  • Press the SAUTE button on the 3 or 6 quart Instant Pot.
  • Add ghee to the pot.
  • Once the ghee is hot, add cloves, cinnamon, and black cardamoms, and saute for 4-5 seconds.
  • Add onions and cook until slightly browned (6-8 minutes), stirring frequently.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir at regular intervals.
  • Now add green chilies and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the chicken with the marinade and mix well.
  • Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring at regular intervals while cooking.

Make The Pulao

  • Drain the rice and add it to the instant pot along with lime juice, salt, and 1 and ¾ cups of water. Stir gently to combine.
  • Close the lid of the instant pot and press the PRESSURE COOK button.
  • Set the timer to 6 minutes at high pressure.
  • Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
  • Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid of the pot.
  • Fluff the chicken pulao with a large spoon.
  • Garnish with fried onions, chopped cilantro, and mint, and serve hot with raita.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Traditional pressure cooker and stovetop recipe is in the post.

Nutrition

Calories: 404kcal, Carbohydrates: 58g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 68mg, Sodium: 934mg, Potassium: 397mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 560IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 90mg, Iron: 2mg
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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Dear Neha,

    Since I made the chicken biryani last time, I had left over spices (I made extra then). I decided to use these spices in making Chicken Pulao using your recipe.

    Based on the experience making chicken biryani, my family is not much of rice eaters. They love the chicken and they can skip the rice. So for this recipe, I used 2- cups of Basmati Rice but I used 6.5 pounds (~3 kilograms) of chicken, legs and thighs. Every member of the family also received one boiled egg that I also cooked in the pot.

    I used homemade chicken broth rather than just plain water. I also used a 9-quart (~8.5 liter) heavy bottom cooking vessel, Le Creuset.

    The whole pot was consumed in two sittings, lunch and dinner, with a cup of cooked rice left behind.

    I managed not to burn the Le Creuset by stirring the contents frequently. I also made sure that there was plenty of liquid present in the vessel.

    Overall, the Chicken Pulao was very tasty and relatively easy to make. The next time I make either Chicken Biryani or Chicken Pulao, I would like to experiment with a few modifications.

    Thank you for a lovely healthy and easy recipe!!