Something for the weekend ahead. A cuisine in its own right, food writer Sumayya Jamil explores Pakistan’s rich culinary history.
CHICKEN YAKHNI PULLAO
This is a rice dish that was always cooked on Sundays in my home. It’s warm, comforting and a complete meal on its own. The whole garam masala is added to the chicken with water create a stock – ‘yakhni’ which the rice and chicken both cook in. It’s best enjoyed with a simple raita made yoghurt, with salt, sugar, red chilli powder and fresh coriander and cucumber.
3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
2-4 medium onions, chopped into half rings
1 inch ginger, grated
1 tbsp fresh garlic paste
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1 green chilli (optional)
500 g whole skinless chicken, with bone, cut into 12 pieces
400 g whipped natural yogurt
500 g basmati rice, washed and rinsed then soaked for 30 minutes before cooking
Whole garam masalas:
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorn
1 medium cinnamon stick
1 tsp aniseed
1 tsp cloves
1 black large cardamom
3-4 green cardamom
How to cook
Heat about 2-3 tbsp of oil in a saucepan over medium heat and once the oil is hot pop in the garam masalas and allow to fry until you can smell their aroma (do not allow to burn!).
Now add the onion half rings and fry on medium-low heat until caramelized and brown – this is important as these add sweetness to the rice and create the flavour for the yakhni (stock for the rice to cook in).
Once the onions are brown add the ginger and garlic paste and cook until the raw garlic smell escapes. Now add the yoghurt and fry until the yoghurt dries up a bit.
Add the chicken and fry until sealed, then drain rice and fry for a couple of minutes. Pop in the green chilli now (if desired). Add enough water to just about cover the rice and chicken and turn the heat low.
Cover and cook in “dam”, under steam for about 10-15 minutes until the rice and just cooked. The liquid should be completely absorbed. Fluff up the rice in between cooking to avoid the rice from sticking to the pan. Use a fork! Finally, Serve with a cool raita.
Archive Chaat! Magazine Issue 11