This is my ultimate go-to recipe for those days when I don't have time or am too lazy to cook, yet get hungry and want a hearty meal of rice and meat! It's also special enough when you have unexpected (or even invited!) guests. Those of you in India must have heard of chicken 65, but I bet you've not heard of 50-50 chicken! Well, it's just a name I thought up for this pulao that I make often, from the Samsung Book of Microwave Recipes by Tarla Dalal (now, those of you in the know will know that Tarla Dalal writes only vegetarian recipes-so don't ask me how non-vegetarian recipes got included in this book!!).
This is a quick version of the yakhni pulao which is a Kashmiri delicacy belonging to the Awadhi royal cuisine. "Yakhni" means stock. So common-sensically thinking, "yakhni pulao" would mean any rice dish in which the rice is cooked in the stock in which the meat was cooked.... And why do I call this 50-50 yakhni pulao? Because half of the cooking is in a microwave and the other half on a stovetop! You could also do the microwave part in a pressure cooker instead. It does quicken up the cooking process and yet does not compromise on taste in anyway.
So here goes, my all-time favorite chicken pulao recipe!
To serve 4
For the stock
- 4 cups water (if taking 2 cups rice. Take double the quantity of water for the rice you take).
- 8 pieces chicken, with bone (if it's drumstick, all the better)
- 5 cloves
- 1-inch stick of cinnamon
- 1 bayleaf
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 2 cups rice, washed and kept to drain in a colander
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 large onions, slit lengthwise
- 3 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
- 4 green chillies, slit lengthwise
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, place all the ingredients for the stock.
- Place the bowl, uncovered, in the microwave and cook on high power for 15 minutes.
- Take out of the oven and leave to cool.
- When cool, debone the chicken into big fleshy shreds. Discard the bones. Save the stock.
- In a frying pan or kadai, heat the oil and fry the onions until it turns pinkish.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the ginger-garlic paste and fry until the raw smell vanishes.
- Now add the shredded chicken and fry till it gets browned (do this on high heat).
- Now add the remaining 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste and fry again till the raw smell vanishes (again, on high heat). Remove from fire.
- Into the same microwave-safe bowl, mix in the chicken, rice, chicken stock, green chillies, and salt to taste.
- Place this in the microwave, uncovered, on high power for 9 minutes and covered for another 9 minutes.
- Wait for 5 minutes before opening the lid. Be warned that the aroma that first escapes is simply mouthwatering :-)
For the microwave-safe bowl, always choose one that is flat-bottomed when cooking rice, to ensure uniform cooking.
Usually for yakhni pulaos, the spices are tied up in a "potli" or "bouquet garni"-this is a muslin cloth where you tie up all the spices and immerse into the water in which the meat is being cooked. The bag is then removed at the end. This way, the flavor of the spices spread into the stock, yet you don't have the spices floating around in the water and consequently in the rice. In this 50-50 recipe, if you don't like your whole spices in the rice, then just sieve the stock off all spices once you take out the chicken pieces.
This would also be good with lamb, which is what Kashmiris usually make a yakhni pulao with anyway. If you are cooking lamb in the microwave method, it might take a considerably longer time.