Easy Chicken Yakhni Pulao/Pilaf!



Yakhni Pulao is one of the slow cooking gems in the North Indian Mughlai Cuisine. Its a mild but very flavorful rice and meat recipe decadent enough to be served on a special occasion. The meat (goat meat or beef) is cooked on low heat with spices to create a flavorful stock/broth(yakhni). Then a spice masala is made and the meat, rice and yakhni is added back to the pot and cooked on low heat again till ready.

I have always wanted to try this but elaborate slow cooking meals don't fare well on my busy schedule. Until i chanced upon this recipe which made it seem fairly easy. Using chicken in place of red meat halves the cooking time. I made it in a pressure cooker making it a one pot meal and fastened the whole process. It can also be made in a large heavy bottom saucepan. The whole process took about an hour but the meal is fit for a king. The flavors left us drooling for more...

: 5-6 people
 
Ingredients:

For Yakhni (meat stock)
  • 1.5 lb chicken, cleaned and cut into pieces (works with boneless/ or meat on bones)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 medium onion,  chopped into large pieces
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 6-7 black peppercorns
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 inches ginger, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 blades of mace
For the pilaf/pulao
  • 2.5 cups of basmati rice 
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red chili powder(depending on the heat desired)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • few mint leaves, fresh or dried


 
 Directions:
  1. Wash the rice well and soaked in water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Take a large saucepan or pressure cooker. Add all the ingredients for yakhni.
  3. Bring them to a boil on medium high heat and continue cooking for about 20 minutes or till the chicken gets tender.
  4. With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken pieces and keep aside. Strain the yakhni to separate the liquid from whole spices.
  5. I like to reuse the onions, garlic for additional flavor and some of the big spices which can be easily removed before serving.
  6. In the same saucepan/ pressure cooker heat oil to medium. Temper with cumin seeds.
  7. Add sliced onions and fry them till golden brown.
  8. Now add ginger and garlic paste, tomatoes, salt and saute for a few minutes.
  9. Next add all the spice powders - red chilly powder, coriander powder and garam masala.
  10. Pour in the yogurt, and add green cardamom, fennel seeds and mint leaves.
  11. Add the chicken pieces back to the pot and  let it simmer for another 2 minutes.
  12. Finally drain the water from the rice and add it with the yakhni back in the cooking pot. 
  13. Measure the yakhni. For 2.5 cups of rice you need 4 cups of liquid. If yakhni has reduced in quantity, then add water to make up for it.
  14. Close the lid and  cook on low-medium heat till rice is just done. If using a pressure cooker, let the steam build to high and then lower heat and cook for 4 mins. or one whistle.
  15. Release the pressure and fork the rice gently.
  16. Serve hot with a salad and spiced yogurt dip (raita)



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