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Chicken Pilau

  • Author: Chef Lesiamon


A fragrant one-pot chicken and rice dish.




1 whole chicken cut into 8-10 pcs, pat dry with a paper towel


Black pepper, freshly ground

4 cups (1-1.5lt) cold water

2 sprigs rosemary

Vegetable oil or neutral oil

1 large garlic bulb finely minced, set aside 3 whole cloves

1 stalk of leek roughly chopped

2 large onions, 1 sliced & 1 roughly diced

1/4 cup (20ml) dark soy sauce

1 medium-sized knob of ginger finely minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 large tomatoes peeled, chopped/blended

2 1⁄2 tablespoons pilau masala

2 cups (400g) white basmati rice cleaned and drained


The Chicken

  1. Place a wide-based casserole dish/pot on high heat.

  2. Season chicken pieces generously with salt & crushed black pepper.

  3. Add about 30ml (3-4 Tbsp) of oil. The casserole dish/pot should be very hot at this point.

  4. Add the chicken, ensuring none of the pieces are on top of the other. Let the meat sear

    until a golden brown colour is achieved on both sides.

  5. Lower the heat to medium, add the roughly chopped onions, whole garlic cloves, leeks

    and rosemary. Cook the vegetables for 2 minutes until they sweat (slightly translucent,

    with moisture on them).

  6. Cover the meat with cold water, add soy sauce. Bring this to a boil then lower heat to

    medium-high to simmer for 10 minutes with a lid on.

  7. Pick out the chicken and strain the chicken stock into a different container. Discard the


The Rice

  1. In the same pot, add 5-6 Tbsp oil and place over medium-high heat.

  2. Add sliced onions and sauté for 4 minutes, stirring constantly to achieve an even brown


  3. Add minced garlic and ginger and lower the heat, occasionally stirring for 2-3 minutes.

  4. Add pilau masala and stir well. You may need to add a bit of oil as the spices tend to soak up all the moisture forming lumps. A bit of oil helps cook the spices well, fully extracting their flavour.

  1. Add tomato paste and cook for 3-4 minutes, then add tomatoes and continue cooking

    for 5 minutes. Season well with salt & pepper.

  2. Add rice and stir gently followed by the chicken pieces and 3 1⁄2 cups chicken stock.

    Bring to a boil, on high heat.

  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F.

  4. Lower the heat to medium once the water starts to evaporate. Cover the rice with a piece

    of parchment/ wax paper to trap in as much steam as possible, then cover the pot with

    its lid.

  5. Place the pot in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

  6. Loosen the rice with a fork or skewers and serve hot.


To make your own Pilau Masala, in a pestle and mortar or an electric spice ginger combine: 3 large Cinnamon sticks, 1 teaspoon cloves, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 3 tablespoon cardamom pods (deseeded), and ½ teaspoon black pepper corn