Yellow Chicken Pilaf

by Jan 14, 2016

Here’s a rice version of “Yellow Chicken“, a family favorite of ours since the day care years with Nahid and Saed. I learned many things from that dear and generous couple—how to appreciate the individual temperaments of children, how to celebrate, and how a little turmeric makes plain ingredients something special.




Yellow Chicken Pilaf

adapted from the original by Asha Gomez, Food and Wine, September 2015

Servings 4 people


  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 6 cardamom pods, cracked
  • 3 star anise points
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced and mashed with 1 tsp salt
  • tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 chicken breast halves (skin and bone removed) cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 15 oz. can chicken broth + water to equal 2 1/4 cups
  • cups basmati rice (uncooked)
  • ½ fresh lemon

Serving Accompaniments

  • golden raisins
  • chopped almonds
  • cilantro leaves
  • additional lemon wedges


  1. In large, deep saucepan (w/lid, you'll need that later) heat the ghee over medium heat. Add the onion, cardamom pods, and star anise points. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic-salt mash and turmeric, 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 20 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. Spritz with fresh lemon juice. Garnish with golden raisins, chopped almonds, cilantro, and pass additional lemon wedges.

Recipe Notes / Tips

  • The lemon really makes this dish.  Go ahead and serve everyone a wedge.
  • Great served with a simple sauté of summer squash, peas, chives and tarragon



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