Mediterranean Chicken Pulao

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Rice is a staple in most Asian houses. Whether it is steamed rice along with a curry, or rice dressed up with spices and other ingredients for a flavorful one-pot meal like the classic biryani or pulao or pilaf.

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This dish of chicken, rice and spices is found all over the Arab Peninsula and has many different variants.

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Each spice used in this recipe is a popular Middle Eastern spice, making this dish about as authentic as it can get. If you are in a rush you can simply use the readymade Arabic spice mix or Kabsa spice mix.

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This is prepared by frying spices in a bit of fat and then adding the chicken and the tomatoes. Bayleaf, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, saffron and lemon powder all add fantastic aroma and taste to the pulao. Then put it all together-spices, rice, vegetables, chicken and broth-in a big pot and you have a fragrant, comforting meal in a snap.

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Long grain, fragrant basmati rice is used to prepare this dish usually. I love the long grained rice cooked to the right tenderness, not sticky or overcooked but nicely chewy separated grains of rice. But here i used a different type of rice which i already had in my pantry because of which mine looked more like a Mexican rice than an Arabic rice. I absolutely regret not using the right rice for this but even then there was no effect on the flavor. It was absolutely yumm. So easy to cook and too delicious to eat.

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Serves 4
Recipe courtesy: allrecipes.com

Spice Mix:
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice/Pimento powder
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried whole lime powder or 2 dried limes

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1 kg whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 cup butter
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 green chillies, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chilly powder
1/4 cup tomato puree
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

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1-2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 whole cloves
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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2 1/4 cups basmati rice
3 1/4 cups hot water
1 cube chicken bouillon
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

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1. Mix together the saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, white pepper, and lime powder in a small bowl, and set the spice mix aside.
2. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the cloves. Once the aroma comes out add the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and sauté for few seconds.
3. Add in the green chillies and red chilly powder.

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4. Add the chicken pieces and brown them over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Mix in the tomato puree.

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5. Stir in the canned tomatoes with their juice, the grated carrots, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper, and the spice mix.
6. Cook for about 3 minutes; pour in the water, and add the chicken bouillon cube.
7. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pot. Simmer until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear, about 30 minutes.
8. Gently stir in the rice. Cover the pot and simmer until rice is tender and almost dry, about 25 minutes; add the raisins and a little more hot water, if necessary. Cover and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until the rice grains are separate.
9. Sprinkle the toasted slivered almonds over the dish and serve.

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Notes:
✔️ Its best to use basmati rice for this. I used a different rice because that was only available in my kitchen at that time.
✔️ Traditionally what Arabs do is that they take out the chicken from gravy once its cooked and roast it on high flame to get that char look on top of the chicken. They then arrange the roasted chicken on top of the cooked rice while serving. If you are doing this step, it is best to use chicken with skin on. Skinless chicken can also be used.
✔️ Pine nuts can also be added to the rice.
✔️ Adjust the heat according to your preference.

 

Mediterranean Chicken Pulao
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INGREDIENTS
Spice Mix
  1. 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  2. 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  3. 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  4. 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice/Pimento powder
  5. 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  6. 1/2 teaspoon dried whole lime powder or 2 dried limes
  7. 1 kg whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  8. 1/4 cup butter
  9. 1 onion, finely chopped
  10. 6 cloves garlic, minced
  11. 4 green chillies, chopped
  12. 1/2 teaspoon red chilly powder
  13. 1/4 cup tomato puree
  14. 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  15. 1-2 carrots, peeled and grated
  16. 2 whole cloves
  17. 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  18. 1 pinch ground cumin
  19. 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  20. salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  21. 2 1/4 cups basmati rice
  22. 3 1/4 cups hot water
  23. 1 cube chicken bouillon
  24. 1/4 cup raisins
  25. 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
DIRECTIONS
  1. Mix together the saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, white pepper, and lime powder in a small bowl, and set the spice mix aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the cloves. Once the aroma comes out add the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and sauté for few seconds.
  3. Add in the green chillies and red chilly powder.
  4. Add the chicken pieces and brown them over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Mix in the tomato puree.
  5. Stir in the canned tomatoes with their juice, the grated carrots, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper, and the spice mix.
  6. Cook for about 3 minutes; pour in the water, and add the chicken bouillon cube.
  7. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pot. Simmer until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear, about 30 minutes.
  8. Gently stir in the rice. Cover the pot and simmer until rice is tender and almost dry, about 25 minutes; add the raisins and a little more hot water, if necessary. Cover and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until the rice grains are separate.
  9. Sprinkle the toasted slivered almonds over the dish and serve.
Notes
  1. ✔️ Its best to use basmati rice for this. I used a different rice because that was only available in my kitchen at that time.
  2. ✔️ Traditionally what Arabs do is that they take out the chicken from gravy once its cooked and roast it on high flame to get that char look on top of the chicken. They then arrange the roasted chicken on top of the cooked rice while serving. If you are doing this step, it is best to use chicken with skin on. Skinless chicken can also be used.
  3. ✔️ Pine nuts can also be added to the rice.
  4. ✔️ Adjust the heat according to your preference.
Savory&SweetFood http://savoryandsweetfood.com/

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65 thoughts on “Mediterranean Chicken Pulao

  1. This really looks good, Sadia. And I agree with everyone else, your pictures are stunning! My rice is always so boring. I’m sure this recipe would help me change that! I have a question. Where do you find lime powder? I have never heard of that. Do you need to go to a specialty store? Thanks so much for sharing this recipe with us!

    1. Thank you soo much Shari! Lime powder is the powdered version of the dried limes(you can see the dried limes in some of my pictures above). Since i stay in Kuwait, its quite easy to find it here. If you are not from the middle eastern part of the world, try searching for this in some Asian stores. You can order it online too i guess.

  2. Party at Sadia’s! Your rice looks amazing. I admire your photography as much as I admire your cooking skills–it feels like that bowl of rice just jumps through the screen at me. Thank you for sharing this recipe and the beautiful photos with us!

    1. 🙂 🙂 thank you Ngan! How kind of you to give such a lovely comment. I put really a lot of hard work into my photography than my cooking, and when i hear such feedback i feel that all the hard work is payed off. 🙂

  3. Sadia, I love your photos of ingredients, especially the bottle with valuable, expensive saffron. We have a similar tomato flavored rice/polo but we don’t use all the aromatic and tasty spices you used here. Lovely dish and gallery of photos!

    1. Thanks you Fae. I just googled polo rice. Didn’t know about it till now. Iranian rice huh! Im sure that it will be a great rice too, coz i usually love iranian rice. I think all Iranians will be having a phD in rice dishes, coz its your speciality right? 🙂

    1. Hahaha! I think you should make a post of paella in your blog then. It must be yummy.
      Btw mine looks a lot like spanish rice rite? Hehe. Thats coz i used the wrong rice. I was supposed to use the long grain basmati rice.

  4. I’ve enjoyed Pulao many times, yet had no idea how to prepare it – thank you for sharing your recipe. It looks absolutely delicious. It seems the method of preparation is just as important as the ingredients used. I can’t wait to make it [oh, and your photos are fantastic]!

  5. This looks like a great dish, I can almost smell all those spices by just thinking about them 🙂 I also love all of the beautiful pictures!

  6. Sadia, you always make your food look so inviting. The photos are just stunning, my dear. Thank you for this feast for the eyes. I scrolled back up and then down again, just to get another eyeful! 🙂

  7. The flavours in this dish look incredible – love the idea of adding pine nuts as well. I really want to try out a vegetarian version without the chicken, especially as I have some dried limes in my cupboard right now!

    Your saffron bottle is so beautiful too. Certainly shows off what a special spice it is 🙂

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