Chicken Pulao | One-Pot Chicken, Lentils & Rice
A year ago, today, I was sitting at my in-laws and waiting for Christmas dinner to be served. I had been building up my blog and on a whim, decided to publish it on the 25th. Dinner was still a few hours away and as much as I love re-watching the Harry Potter movies around Christmas time, I chose to be a little more productive that day. I have been cooking since I left home for college and this is my third attempt at a food blog; fortunately, this one seems to have stuck. I’m loving trying out new things and perfecting old family recipes and sharing them with you all. I owe a big thank you to all my friends who encouraged me to turn my Instagram posts into a blog and a big thank you to those of you who are reading. I love when you all try something out or ask me a question – what’s better than interacting with other people who love food as much you do?
In celebration of my one-year blogoversary, I want to share one of the staples from my kitchen – a chicken pulao. This is a great dish for anyone who loves biryani but a) does not have the time to make it and b) is trying to be healthy. Traditionally, pulaos are rice and meat or rice and vegetables – I’ve replaced the white rice here with brown and subbed in an equal amount of lentils. Rice and lentils are is more of khichdi; this is a marriage between pulao and khichdi…with a ton of green peas thrown in for good measure. If you’re not a fan of peas, you can leave them out and serve this some other vegetables or a salad on the side. I personally love throwing everything into one pot and hitting all my food groups. The warmth of the masalas and the cooling effect of the mint are very reminiscent of biryani; I like to make mine a little spicy and serve it with some cooling yogurt. You’ll notice the base is almost identical to a chicken curry and that’s essentially what you’re doing – making a dry chicken curry and cooking it with the rice and lentils. I mean, why wouldn’t that be good?
After a long week of work travel or something stressful, I crave this – I hope you give my ultimate comfort food a go!
1/3 cup brown rice
1/3 cup French lentils
1 bone-in split chicken breast, cubed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 Serrano pepper (optional)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 black cardamom or 2 green cardamom pods
¼ stick cinnamon
1 tbsp grated garlic
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 plum tomato or 6-8 cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp curry powder or turmeric
½ tsp Kashmiri red chili powder (optional – this is very mild and is primarily for color)
½ tsp garam masala
Juice of ½ lemon
2 cups hot water
Chopped mint and coriander leaves, handfuls
Salt to taste
Heat a pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and once heated, add the cumin seeds, cardamom, and cinnamon stick and cook for 30 seconds to flavor the oil. Next, add the sliced onions and a pinch of salt; mix well and cook for 10-12 minutes or until onions are browned. If the onions begin to stick as they’re cooking, add a spoonful of water at a time to loosen them from the pot.
Next, add the Serrano pepper, grated garlic, and grated ginger. Cook for 5 mins. Again, if the mixture begins to stick, add a spoonful of water at a time to de-glaze the pan and stop any burning. At the end of the 5 mins, add the tomatoes, cubed chicken breast, and the spices – cumin, coriander, curry, and Kashmiri red chili powders. Add some salt. Mix thoroughly to coat everything in the spices and cook for 5-8 mins on medium.
Once the tomatoes and chicken start releasing some of their juices, add the rice and lentils to the pot and continue mixing them for 1-2 mins. Next, two cups of hot water and bring the pot to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot with a lid and cook for 35 to 40 mins on medium heat. Check at the 20-min mark to determine if more water is needed or if the heat needs to be adjusted. You will know it’s done when the grains of rice and lentils are cooked but not mushy.
Lastly, add in 1 ½ or 2 cups of frozen peas, handful of chopped mint and coriander leaves, and the juice of ½ lemon. Sprinkle the garam masala and add more salt if needed. Gently fold everything in and be careful not to over-mix. Leave the pot on the heat for an additional 2 mins or until the peas are no longer frozen.
Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt or more lemon!