Instant Pot Chicken Pulao

97 Comments

This quick and easy one-pot chicken and rice meal is a great gateway dish to Indian cuisine. It’s aromatic and mildly flavored with Indian spices. Thanks to the instant pot, making chicken pulao is nearly effortless.

instant pot chicken pulao

Everyone knows of chicken biryani, right? Chicken biryani is famous. Like hall of fame, superstardom level famous. Well, let me introduce you to chicken pulao, the quiet and shy relative of biryani who isn’t as interested in the limelight. Don’t get me wrong, pulao is still very special – pulao just isn’t an A-list celebrity if you know what I mean. Chicken pulao is the Solange to biryani’s Beyonce, the Gayle to Oprah, the Roby to Ashley (jkjk Roby). Still, there are times when you might prefer pulao to biryani.

Chicken Biryani vs. Chicken Pulao

Truthfully, I wasn’t even sure if I should share a recipe for chicken pulao on the blog. Why? Because with an Instant Pot, you can make chicken biryani and chicken pulao in the same amount of time. That’s right. Both take the same amount of effort to make. So why would anyone choose to make humble pulao over showy biryani? I’m going to tell you why of course!

For one thing – sometimes you just want a dish that’s a bit lighter, with a bit less spice. A dish that’s wholesome and delicious and isn’t going to steal the show/overpower other dishes. Chicken pulao is a dish that’s comfortable saying “hey, I don’t need to be the star today. Let’s all shine equally.”

Chicken pulao is also a great gateway dish if you’re introducing someone to Indian food for the first time or if you’re making this for kiddos who aren’t accustomed to spices. It’s familiar because it tastes like a regular pilaf… with chicken and aromatic whole spices. 

In the past – as in pre-Instant Pot – chicken pulao was the easier dish to make compared to biryani which took far more time and effort. Pulao was a dish that Indian families served more regularly: on weeknights, for gatherings, whenever a nice – but quick – dish was required. Pre-IP, chicken pulao was made in Indian homes more often than biryani. And because of that reason, sometimes when I’m feeling nostalgic for pulao or am in the mood for something a bit lighter, I’ll opt for pulao over biryani.

The great thing about chicken pulao is that it’s easy to adapt – you can use whatever whole spices you prefer – just don’t forget the caramelized onions, those are key. And if you prefer a spicier pulao, just add cayenne or chili peppers or well, more spices.

instant pot chicken pulao

A Note about Rice

If you’ve made my biryani before then you might notice that this chicken pulao is a teeny bit saucier than my chicken biryani – I think the reason for that is because there aren’t quite as many ground spices to soak up the extra moisture. For that reason, I suggest using basmati rice that will hold up under pressure.

I have said it many times – but this brand of rice – is my favorite when it comes to making basmati rice in an Instant Pot. The grains maintain their texture and remain separate. That can’t be said about all brands, so if you’re using a different brand you may need to reduce the cook time or the soak time. Play around with the cook time until you get the rice the way you prefer. I wish I could test all brands but the truth is, after buying aahu barah rice I really don’t want to use any other (not sponsored).

instant pot chicken pulao

You can serve this chicken pulao with some raita and achar/pickle for a perfect and simple meal. It would also go really well with my curried tomato soup – a great way to use up those late summer tomatoes. 

I can’t wait to hear what you think of this chicken pulao. If you’ve tried both my chicken biryani and my chicken pulao you really have to let me know what you think!

instant pot chicken pulao

Instant Pot Chicken Pulao

instant pot chicken pulao

Instant Pot Chicken Pulao

4.7 from 30 reviews
Pin Recipe Print Recipe

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup basmati rice soaked 15 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons oil or ghee

Whole Spices

  • 1 ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 black cardamom
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 medium onions thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken thighs cut into quarters

Spices

  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt adjust to taste
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup water
  • Cilantro garnish

Instructions
 

  • Soak the basmati rice in cold water for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse and set aside.
  • Press the sauté button. Add the oil/ghee to the pot. When it melts, add the whole spices and stir. Once they begin to sizzle add the onions. Stir-fry for 7-8 minutes or until the onions turn golden brown.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, chicken and spices. Stir-fry for 5 minutes or until most of the outside of the chicken is no longer pink.
  • Add the rice and water to the pot and mix well.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 6 minutes at high pressure.
  • Naturally release pressure for 10 minutes. Open the valve to release any remaining pressure.
  • Discard the whole spices if desired, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Notes

  • I love this brand of basmati rice – the rice grains are always perfectly cooked! If you are using another brand you may need to reduce the cook time - play around with the times depending on how you prefer your rice.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

Pin This Recipe

Like this recipe? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board now so you will remember to make it later!

Pin Recipe Now0

Related Recipes

Cookbooks

Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.

Subscribe

Subscribe to get our latest content by email. We won't send you spam. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Comment & Rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. Sadaf says

    5 stars
    Tried this dish tonight and increased the rice and water by 1/2 cup and it turned out amazing! Absolutely delicious. I also did half ghee and half veg oil and the rice was perfectly moist. Paired it with a raita and it completed the dish

  2. Malaika Baptist says

    5 stars
    I just purchased an instant pot and this was the first recipe I made..My 9 month old relished the pulao..it’s such an easy and tasty recipe..simple and yet so flavourful..Thank you

  3. Shweta says

    Hi..
    I don’t hAve an instant pot..can I still make this recipe in a normal pan? How will cooking instructions be different ?
    Thankyou

  4. Marjan says

    I loved your biryani dish so I’m eager to try this recipe out! If I want to make more rice (3 cups), how much water should I add? Also, should I double on the spices, I’m not sure exactly how much chicken I have (3 ziploc bags full of boneless chicken thighs).

    Thanks so much!
    Marjan

    • My Heart Beets says

      Marjan, I hope you love this recipe as much as the biryani! If you’re looking to double the recipe, I would suggest doubling all of the ingredients but keeping the cook time the same. The pot will take longer to reach pressure which will make up for the extra volume.

  5. Ellen says

    5 stars
    I’m so glad that I found you, Ashley. I made already many recipes from you and the all very good. Even my almost 17 year old daughter liked them. One more reason to stay with you .

  6. Nandini says

    5 stars
    this was absolutely amazing – thank u so much .. looking fwd to trying more stuff from your page

    first time i’ve tried making a pilau – loved it 🙂

  7. Kate says

    I have 1.5 pounds of chicken. Could I use it all in this dish or would it release too much extra moisture resulting in soggy rice?

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Kate, extra chicken will release more liquid but if it were me, I’d use it all – seems like a pain to put away half a pound of chicken. If your rice tends to get soggy easily, then you can always try reducing the water to 3/4 cup – I think that’d be okay too. I use a few different brands of basmati – the one I normally use for biryani/pulao (aahu barah basmati) doesn’t get soggy easily. Just something to think about.

Show More Comments