Yakhni Pulao

International Signs of Friendship~Yakhni Pulao

Often when a friend wants to show you that you are important to them, they give you a signal. In the states that might include a card, a small personal gift, or helping you in some way. In different countries the signs of true friendship often take different forms.

It’s been 13 years since my last trip to India, but certain friends are still very close to my heart. Friends, that despite differences in culture, language, beliefs and age, were generous with their time and thoughts. I’m always amazed at how simple it is to find common connections when you are looking for them. These individuals extended a hand of friendship in many ways, but most effectively by offering sustenance.

Yakhni Pulao is a dish friends serve to let you know you are an honored guest. Depending on the part of the country you’re in, they serve either Biryani or Puloa. Both are “rice and meat” dishes, but Biryani is rice layered in a large pot with meat, potatoes, yogurt, milk and spices. Pulao is more of a pilaf-style dish, so the meat and rice are stirred in before cooking. Yakhni Pulao tends to include meat stock, dried fruit and nuts, while biryani is silky and dense due to the inclusion of yogurt and potatoes.

My friends explained that these dishes were always reserved for special occasions or special guests. No different than a Thanksgiving turkey or standing rib roast. They are meals you wouldn’t whip up on just any given night! However after preparing both rice dishes, I can tell you this tradition is NOT due to great difficulty in the kitchen. Most likely, it has to do with cost.

Puloa is a relatively quick dish and boasts vibrant flavors and textures! The aroma itself, is worth more than a bucket of saffron! I love Puloa best with lamb, but find it more accessible (and affordable) made with chicken…your call!

The language of friendship is not words but meanings. ~Henry David Thoreau

To Prepare Yakhni Puloa:

In a large pot heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, anise and saffron. Stir for to release the flavors and add the onions.

Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 2 minutes. Add the chicken to the pot. Salt liberally and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Next add the rice and stir to coat it in oil. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling pour the sultanas on top, cover, and reduce the heat to low.

Steam the rice for 15 minutes. Then remove from heat. Stir in the chopped apricots and nuts and cover again.

Allow the puloa to sit another 5 minutes, covered. Serve with cilantro sprinkled on top!

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Yield: 4 servings

Yakhni Puloa

Ingredients:

1 ¼ lbs. chicken breast or lamb, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup basmati rice
1 ¼ cup stock (chicken or beef)
4 green cardamom pods
10 whole peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
1 small pinch of saffron
2 Tb. fresh grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced onion
1/3 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
1/3 cup chopped dried apricot
½ cup almonds or cashews
Salt
Chopped Cilantro for garnish

Directions:

In a large pot heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, anise and saffron. Stir for to release the flavors and add the onions.

Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 2 minutes. Add the chicken to the pot. Salt liberally and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Next add the rice and stir to coat it in oil. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling pour the sultanas on top, cover, and reduce the heat to low.

Steam the rice for 15 minutes. Then remove from heat. Stir in the chopped apricots and nuts and cover again.

Allow the puloa to sit another 5 minutes, covered. Serve with cilantro sprinkled on top!

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40 Responses to “Yakhni Pulao”

  1. #
    1
    Anna — September 2, 2010 @ 4:19 am

    Yummy, that rice dish looks stunning, just the way I like, very colorful and aromatic. Will save this recipe for sure. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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    Priscilla - She's Cookin' — September 2, 2010 @ 5:03 am

    I love Indian food, but it's a cuisine that I haven't attempted much in my kitchen except for curries. Can I come over? OMG I'm so excited that I won something! And it's my birthday today!

    Reply

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    Indie.Tea — September 2, 2010 @ 9:07 am

    Being of Indian background (but born and raised in California), I too find coffeehouse 'chai' laughable. Its just not thick enough. And not sweet or spicy enough.
    Your pulao looks gorgeous too!

    Reply

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    denise @ quickies on the dinner table — September 2, 2010 @ 9:45 am

    Oh wow Sommer, can I come for dinner?? Ok – so I don't live in India and I'm not Indian but I have been privileged to have close Indian friends and to have grown up with Indian neighbours. So *ahem* I feel qualified (enough) to say that you cook up a mean, and beautiful Indian meal. And that Chai! No way can any coffeeshop chain chai hold a candle to THAT!! It's remarkably close to the way I was thought to make chai by a dear Punjabi friend :)

    Reply

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    Sanjeeta kk — September 2, 2010 @ 11:13 am

    Lovely and tempting rice recipe.

    Reply

  6. #
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    Angie's Recipes — September 2, 2010 @ 11:15 am

    I love stir-fried rice!
    Congratulations to all the winners!

    Reply

  7. #
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    Belinda @zomppa — September 2, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

    Hmmmmm…great chai recipe. I love pulao – never attempted to make it on my own, but maybe one day…..

    Reply

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    Jennifer — September 2, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

    This looks beautiful and I can just imagine the fragrant smells coming from the kitchen. Actually makes me miss the cooking of my downstairs neighbor in Atlanta.

    I can't believe I won something. Yay!!!! Thank you so much!

    Reply

  9. #
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    Susi — September 2, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

    Beautiful post and great pictures! Thanks for sharing :o)

    Reply

  10. #
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    Pacheco Patty — September 2, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

    Hi Sommer, Wow, can't believe I won, hooray! Maybe I should head for Vegas, could be my lucky day! Thanks and congratulations on your first give away, I would like to do one too. Your post and photos are wonderful, inspirational and as always delicious looking:-) I filled out the email form but wasn't sure how to send it so I don't know if you received it???

    Reply

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    Tanvi — September 2, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

    Soomer,
    You know what… its kinda funny when the menu board says "chai tea" in the american coffeeshops.Coz both these are the same thing! "Chai " is hindi for tea. :):)
    Your village chai is what is popularly know as masala chai in India.And you ahve done it prefectly!
    And the Pulao is simple gorgeous.Its really good to see the use of authentic ingredients like cardamom & saffron in the pulao.
    Cheers!

    Reply

  12. #
    12
    Kristen — September 2, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

    I am completely in love with that rice dish. It looks like all of the the things I love rolled onto one plate.

    Reply

  13. #
    13
    Rosa's Yummy Yums — September 2, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

    That chai looks divine and so does the pulao! I am a big Basmati rice fan.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    Reply

  14. #
    14
    Monet — September 2, 2010 @ 6:47 pm

    Some wonderful creations here! I love Indian food…and I hope one day I can visit that beautiful country. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

  15. #
    15
    Katerina — September 2, 2010 @ 6:48 pm

    They are all so exotic. Very nice pictures.

    Reply

  16. #
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    Megan — September 2, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

    Indian Chai sounds really good! I usually don't like the American version as much…but this sounds delightful! AND YAY! YAY! YAY! So glad I got to be a winner in your contest! I am super excited about the hot sauce. I will def. be using that one soon! :)

    Reply

  17. #
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    laura — September 2, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

    What wonderful memories, Sommer! ( : I'm so excited about these authentic recipes!

    Reply

  18. #
    18
    Juliana — September 2, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

    Yummie, the rice dish looks awesome…so tasty, so colorful.

    Reply

  19. #
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    Stella — September 2, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

    Hey Sommer! Your chai looks so fragrant and wonderful. And, frankly, so does your pulao. I haven't made a nice pulao for a while, but now I want to (smile)…
    Oh, and congrats to all of the winners-that's really nice & fun!
    p.s. I double dare, ya;)!

    Reply

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    Magic of Spice — September 2, 2010 @ 9:42 pm

    That is such a wonderful rice dish…love these flavors. And the chai is beautiful :) And I am so excited to be one of your winners :) I can't wait to play with those goodies, thank you so much…

    Reply

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    Joudie's Mood Food — September 2, 2010 @ 10:27 pm

    How funny that this is the chai of India. I just had some tonight. My mother always makes this for me when i have a stomach ache. We are middle eastern and she used to drink this also when she was young. We also call this 'shai'. Its great to see where things have come from and gone to! Great post and very tasty!

    Reply

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    Mary — September 3, 2010 @ 2:40 am

    The chai and rice sound delightful but I found the background story most interesting. I love the food and recipes you feature. They are just slightly outside my comfort level and force me to learn and stay on my toes. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

    Reply

  23. #
    23
    Prerna@IndianSimmer — September 3, 2010 @ 4:26 am

    Divine! Can I say it louder??
    GORGEOUS!!

    Reply

  24. #
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    Barbara — September 3, 2010 @ 9:30 am

    I loved this post, Sommer! About old friends, about India and about food. I have never been to India and have never had chai or pulao. I'd love to try both.

    Reply

  25. #
    25
    Eileen — September 3, 2010 @ 1:38 pm

    I have never had Indian food (on my to do list) but that chicken and rice looks delicious.

    Reply

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    Chef Dennis — September 3, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

    Congratulations to all the winners in your great give away! Thank you so much for a wonderful post, its always nice to learn about another culture…..the chai recipe sounds delicious, and I love both rice dishes, I particularly like the almonds in it!
    Hope you have a great labor day weekend!

    Reply

  27. #
    27
    Emily Z — September 3, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

    Your pictures are so gorgeous. The food is so pretty! I think I need to get a better camera than the one I have, I feel like my food pictures don't always compare to some others I see!

    Reply

  28. #
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    citronetvanille — September 4, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

    I can smell all the spices from the computer! gorgeous recipes! Love that rice filled with dried fruits, and chai tea…what to say? simply lovely…

    Reply

  29. #
    29
    5 Star Foodie — September 5, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

    The aroma of the chai must be incredible! And the Puloa look super delicious!

    btw, I wanted to let you know that your rss feed didn't seem to update for this post (at least for me).

    Reply

  30. #
    30
    Lynne @ CookandBeMerry — September 6, 2010 @ 1:34 am

    I really want to make the chai..I am imagining the smell from your list of ingredients. Very heady. I love the dried apricots and almonds in the rice along with the chicken. Yum.

    Reply

  31. #
    31
    baking.serendipity — September 6, 2010 @ 2:07 am

    I love chai but am guessing I've always had the watered-down American version. Definitely giving your recipe a try (with the VIP nuts)! Thanks :)

    Reply

  32. #
    32
    sangeeta — September 6, 2010 @ 4:11 am

    Loved every bit of this post. The chai with added star anise and the yakhni pulao…….

    Chai is really the life blood in India.

    Reply

  33. #
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    A Little Yumminess — September 6, 2010 @ 6:34 pm

    This looks good. Love the chai recipe. :)

    Reply

  34. #
    34
    Megan — September 7, 2010 @ 3:40 am

    Tried out the Village Chai tea & liked it so much I had to write a review!! Thanks for the recipe! I made a version of it with Assam and 2% milk. Tasted great. :)

    Reply

  35. #
    35
    Tasty Eats At Home — September 7, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

    OMG I love these two recipes. I love a good, creamy chai, and this puloa looks so good, I wish I had it for lunch today. Will have to make soon!

    Reply

  36. #
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    Nirmala — September 7, 2010 @ 7:28 pm

    Yes, I can attest to the specialness of briyani. It's really only served on special occasions for special people. It's a wonderful dish. It says a lot that it was served to you!

    Reply

  37. #
    37
    Boulder Locavore — December 27, 2010 @ 3:13 pm

    These recipes look so good! I love chai but have not ever tried to make it myself. I've discovered a local brand which is very peppery and I love that so I've not tried to take the time. Now I will! Thanks for your beautiful blog!

    Reply

  38. #
    38
    The Steaming Pot — February 10, 2012 @ 9:00 am

    Loved this post!

    You know in Mumbai, they serve what is called “cutting chai” – chai served by the half glass. This chai is so strongly flavored that people have no more than half a shot glass in one go.

    Reply

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    eva — October 16, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

    this looks amazing! do you think it could work with brown rice?

    Reply

    • Sommer — October 16th, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

      Eva, I bet it would!

      Reply

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