What are some meals that define your childhood? For me, this pulao is definitely one of them.
This was a meal that was on a regular rotation when I was growing up. It was a recipe that my mom learned from my paternal grandmother, and it just screams comfort. Whenever I go to visit my mother and brother in California, this is one of the first few meals that Maa makes for us.
This pulao, or pilaf, is a bit different from traditional Pakistani pulao in the sense that it has the addition of potatoes. Traditional pulao doesn’t contain potatoes, and that is what makes this recipe so special. It is a Memon style dish, and one that has been passed down in our family. I hope it brings as much comfort to you as it does to us.
Memon Style Chicken Pulao
- 2 ½ cups basmati rice, washed and soaked for at least 30 minutes
- 1 ½ pounds skinless and bone-in chicken
- ¼ cup yogurt
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 jalapeño or serrano peppers
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- Salt, to taste
- ½ cup neutral flavored oil, divided
- ½ medium onion, sliced and divided
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into 2-inch cubes
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 green cardamoms
- 2 cloves
- 1 (1-inch) piece cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
In the jar of a blender, combine yogurt, garlic, jalapeño peppers, cumin seeds, and salt and blitz until smooth. Pour over chicken and set aside.
Heat half of the oil in a large vessel over medium heat. Add half of the onions and cook until lightly browned. Add chicken and yogurt mixture, and cook until the chicken is mostly cooked through, and the oil starts to separate from the curry, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat remaining oil in a small pan over medium high heat. Add remaining onions and diced potatoes, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown. Transfer the contents of this pan to the cooked chicken.
Bring the vessel containing the chicken back to the stove, and add tomatoes, lemon juice, cilantro, cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, and black peppercorns. Add drained rice and 3¼ cups water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow the rice to sit undisturbed (do not remove lid) for an additional 15 minutes.
Measurements are in actual measuring spoons/cups and not eating utensils.
The chillies I use are very spicy. Feel free to increase the green chilies if yours are more mild.