Posted by Amy Andrews

Categories * Weeknight Dinners, Main, Poultry

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Indian Chicken Pilaf


Turmeric gives the bright yellow color to this one-dish dinner dubbed “Yellow Chicken Rice” by my kids.  The original, “Yellow Chicken“, has been a family favorite since the day care years, over a decade ago:  drop the kids off by 8:30, hop back in the car, and head south on 101 to lead 9 a.m. meetings at the office.  We usually wouldn’t see them again until 5:30 or 6, but I was able to witness Lunch at Nahid’s a few times:  at least six, often eight or ten little people, many still in high chairs, under the watch of Nahid’s husband, Saed, while Nahid cooked at the stove, sprinkling in her Persian spices, and somehow simultaneously managing all personalities and directing Saed.  Hot lunches, cooked from scratch, every day – Yellow Chicken one of my kids’ faves.


I adapted this recipe from the original by Asha Gomez, a chef in Atlanta who grew up in India (September 2015 issue of Food and Wine).


Indian Chicken Pilaf

Yield: 4 - 6 servings


  • 4 Tablespoons ghee
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 6 cardamom pods, cracked
  • 3 star anise points
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced and mashed with 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 chicken breast halves, skin and bone removed, cut into 1-inch dice (about 1 lb.)
  • 1 15oz. can chicken broth + water to equal 2 ¼ cups
  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice
  • serving condiments: golden raisins, chopped almonds, chopped cilantro leaves


  1. In large, deep saucepan (w/lid, you'll need that later) heat the ghee over medium heat. Add the onion, cardamom pods, star anise points, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic-salt mash and turmeric, and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken and cook until browned and coated with the aromatics, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the stock and bring to boil. Stir in the rice and return to boil, then cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook over low heat until broth is absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let steam, covered, for an additional 15 minutes.
  4. Fluff the pilaf with a fork and keep an eye out for the cardamom and star anise, pick them out and discard them. Garnish with golden raisins, chopped almonds, and cilantro.


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