A Spicy Perspective

Yakhni Pulao

Fresh Fragrant Yakhni Pulao Recipe Fragrant spiced Yakhni Pulao, a tantalizing Indian one-pot meal!

Yakhni Pulao Recipe

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 takes a different form.

It’s been 19 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.

Fragrant Yakhni Pulao Recipe

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 an Indian dish friends serve to let you know you are an honored guest. Depending on the region of India you’re in, this recipe is called Biryani or Pulao. 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.

Making Fragrant Yakhni Pulao Recipe

Years ago, one friend 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.

Fresh Yakhni Pulao Recipe

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

Aromatic Yakhni Pulao Recipe

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

Yakhni Pulao Recipe
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Yakhni Puloa

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Fragrant spiced Yakhni Pulao, a tantalizing Indian one-pot meal!
Servings: 4


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


  • In a large stockpot heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, bay leaf, anise and saffron. Stir for 2-3 minutes, to allow the spices to release their flavor. Then add the onions.
  • Sauté for 2-3 minutes. 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.
  • Cover and steam the rice for 15 minutes. Then remove from heat. Stir in the chopped apricots and nuts, then cover again.
  • Allow the Yakhni Pulao to sit another 5 minutes, covered. Serve with cilantro sprinkled on top!


Serving: 1cup, Calories: 572kcal, Carbohydrates: 60g, Protein: 38g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 90mg, Sodium: 465mg, Potassium: 922mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 450IU, Vitamin C: 7.3mg, Calcium: 102mg, Iron: 2.4mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Sommer Collier

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45 comments on “Yakhni Pulao”

  1. Missing a bay leaf. In India we typically garnish with mint not coriander, and use slivered almonds. When using goat meat or beef, one has to cook the meat first then add rice to the mixture to cook at the end, in the meat, stock & spices. I usually add pea and carrots for some color & veggies.

  2. Do we not take out all the peppercorns and cardamom pods?

  3. Just a quick question. The dish looks and sounds wonderful! However at some point are these spices removed?  4 green cardamom pods
    10 whole peppercorns
    1 cinnamon stick
    1 bay leaf
    1 star anise  

    Many thanks. 

    • Hi Beatrice,

      In India you wouldn’t take them out… Just eat around them. However, if you want to take them out, do so as you are fluffing the rice.

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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. :)

  10. This looks good. Love the chai recipe. :)

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

    Chai is really the life blood in India.

  12. 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 :)

  13. 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.

  14. 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).

  15. 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…

  16. 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!

  17. 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!

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

  19. 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.

  20. Divine! Can I say it louder??

  21. 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

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

  23. 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!

  24. 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…

  25. 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;)!

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

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

  28. 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! :)

  29. They are all so exotic. Very nice pictures.

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



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

  32. 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.

  33. 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???

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

  35. 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!

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

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

  38. Lovely and tempting rice recipe.

  39. 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 :)

  40. 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!

  41. 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!

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