Easy Chicken Pulao and tips on Microwave cooking

11:59 PM

God Bless the man who invented Microwave. I don't know about others but for me gone are the days when I only used it for re heating my leftover food. Now a days I use it constantly to cook, to steam, to boil, to broil, to bake, to roast and yes to re-heat as well. The bottom line is just cant think of my life without my microwave. If am in the kitchen its constantly in use to make my life super easy, efficient and time saving.
So today just thought of sharing few ideas that I constantly follow to use this gadget very efficiently. but all said and done let me just tell you that am no Microwave pro and my knowledge comes from my experience in the kitchen.

Today I will talk about the microwave mode that all microwave ovens have. Apart from it other models are equipped with grill and convection mode. To know more about microwave mode please see this, as am not going to get into that nitty gritty of scientific knowledge, rather would share few pointers to use it in a safe and efficient way.
  • Microwave definitely  heats foods quickly and efficiently but at the same time it uses the water content in your food to do it. So whenever you are heating some dry fruit like left over roti or rice its a better idea to place a small bowl of water to keep the food moist.
  • What utensil you use for the microwave is extremely important. Loosely knowing the fact plastic containers could be used in it is dangerous. Even often we have seen the label contents of microwave cookwares being misread. Generally any ceramic and micro safe plastic ware could be safely used in microwave but not more than for 3 minutes. please read the label instructions carefully. your best bet would be oven safe ceramic ware like borosil, Domit etc. Invest in a few different sized pans and use them without any worries.
  • There are few micro-safe good quality plastic accessories available which would make your life really easier. I would recommend every micro user to buy a good quality idli maker and steamer (Tupperware) and definitely this potato baker. This is very reasonably priced and cooks 4 medium sized potatoes within 3-4 minutes. 
  • If you plan to cook pulao or rice in microwave then its better to invest in some good quality large size ceramic bowl and plastic wrap. Always poke a hole in the plastic wrap for the steam to escape.
  • In microwave mode you can 
    • make rice/pulao
    • re-heat your food
    • cook gravies starting from making the masala or the spice paste for it
    • bake cupcakes and brownies (will share my recipe soon)
    • make tea-coffee-porridge etc
    • steam dhokla, idli, momos, muthias etc
    • bake 4 potatoes in 3 minutes
    • boil vegetables etc
Today am sharing a very easy Chicken pulao recipe that I developed with time and always prefer to cook in my microwave if the number of servings do not cross more than 5 people. This is a very delicious and elegant dish. You can even serve it for a party with some carefully chosen side gravies and dishes. Or just make it for your quick weeknight or weekend lunch and serve with some yogurt raita, salad and preferred cold beverage. 

You can even cook it in pressure cooker or in a big flat saucepan on stove top. I have included all the variations here.

Chicken Pulao
(serves 4)

Chicken: 500 gms kg or 8 medium size pieces. I prefer to use pieces with bones
Rice: 21/2 cups
onion: 2 cups chopped (loosely packed)
ginger-garlic paste: 11/2 tbsp
yogurt: 1/3 cup
tomato: 1 big
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Biriyani/pulao masala: 1 tsp or 1/4 tsp garam masala
kasoori methi: 2 tsp
chilli powder: 1 tsp
oil: 4 tbsp
mustard oil: 2 tbsp
ghee 1 tbsp
lemon juice: 1/2 tsp
Cashews: handful
saffron: few strands soaked in 3 tbsp warm water (optional)

Whole spices:
cloves: 4
green cardamom: 2
cinnamon: 1" piece
Black pepper: 1/2 tsp

For the Birista or fried onion (optional but recommended)
chopped onion: 1/2 cup
pinch of salt
oil to fry

Wash the rice and soak in clean water for 15 minutes. Drain and spread them on a news paper. let it dry out completely before use. it hardly takes 25-30 minutes under a fan or do it the night before.
Wash and drain the water from the chicken pieces and let them dry on a plate for 5-6 minutes. mix the ginger-garlic paste, mustard oil, chili powder, little salt and beaten yogurt. keep aside.

Heat he rest of the oil  and fry the cashew pieces till golden keep aside. In the same oil add lightly crushed whole spices. Once they start to splutter add the chopped onions. cook with a pinch of salt on medium heat. Let it brown slowly for 7-8 minutes then add the chopped tomatoes and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook covered till the tomatoes are mushy. be patient and cook till you get to see little spots of oil appearing on the sides. Then add he coriander powder. Mix for a few seconds and then add in the marinated chicken. Cook on medium for 15 minutes. Try to cover it to get the chicken pieces cook in its own juice, sir intermittently to avoid burning at the bottom. The chicken should be 3/4 cooked as we will again cook it with rice. But be sure the juice of the chicken is dried and you see oil starting to ooze out at the sides before adding the rice.

Add the dried rice and gently fold with all the spice mix and oil. cook for 2-3 minutes till the rice grains turn white. Pour the ghee, the fried cashews and the biriyani/pulao masala. Lightly crush the kasoori methi in your palm and add to this. Mix everything together and then add 4 and 1/2 cups of warm water and the lemon juice. Check the salt and adjust.

Microwave method:

Now to cook it in microwave transfer this whole mixture to a micro safe ceramic bowl. You need a bigger one to incorporate the whole thing. Cover it with cling wrap and poke a small whole in the center for the steam to escape.
Place it in the microwave and cook on 900 W or high for 14 minutes. Do check 2-3 minutes prior to the end of cooking time to check if it has water to get cooked. I use normal packed basmati and mine gets cooked within 15-16 minutes. Some might need more water, please adjust accordingly for the first time and do keep an eye on it. a the end of 14 minutes check the rice whether its cooked or not. If not and if it needs more water add 2-3 tbsp at a time and cook further for 2-3 minutes. check and if needed repeat the process again. You will have to do this for the first time to get the idea.
once the rice is done gently peel the plastic wrap. Be extremely careful as it will be steamy and hot. sprinkle the soaked saffron along the liquid on top. Cover with a clean tea towel and top it with a plate. This will help the steam to soak up and will make the rice fluffy. give it 10 minutes standing time before serving. just before serving mix in the birista with a fork and serve hot.

Pressure Cooker
Please follow the method as mentioned here to cook it in Pressure cooker.

Stove top
Once you add the water tightly close the kadhai or pan and let it get cooked on very low flame for 12-13 minutes. Take out the lid and check the content. you will see few boiling spots. Take a few grains of rice from there and check if it cooked. or cover and let it get cooked again. You might have to add more water and don't pour water at point rather sprinkle it on the top of the rice and please always add warm water. DO NOT stir the rice while it getting cooked. Once you are happy with the rice take out the lid and cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Place the lid on top and rest i for 5-10 minutes before serving. Fluff up the rice with a fork and mix in the birista.

Serve with yogurt mixed with bhaja masala (recipe HERE) and salt and Kachumbar salad.
To make the Kachumbar salad wash and peel the cucumber. cut cucumber, onion, tomato in small cubes. finely chop 1 green chili and few springs of coriander leaves. mix everything together with little lemon juice and salt. Serve fresh.


A Homemaker's Notes:
You can even add potatoes or other vegetables to this. Be sure to cut them in big chunk to avoid mushy veggies. Lightly fry them with salt before addiing then to the rice and water.

This dish could be cooked with leftover chicken curry as well. Heat the chicken curry (if it dry add 1/4 cup water) and let it come to a boil. Fry the rice grains separately and add to the curry. cook for a minute before measuring and adding water and cooking the pulao. 

For runny chicken curries, separate the gravy and measure it as liquid and add before cooking the rice.

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  1. Chicken Pulao looks delish :) would love to have this rightaway :) I must learn the art of microwave cooking...

  2. Prefectly cooked rice grains, pulao makes me drool..

    Those tips are seriously worth and useful for many of us..Thanks for sharing Sayantani.

  3. Hello lovely lady. I have passed on two awards to you. Please come and collect them from my blog. You deserve every bit of it for your wonderful blog. A big hug to you.

  4. Khub shundor hoye che chicken pulao ..ek dom jhor-jhure jeyi ta ke bole :-)...and tumader khub bhalo katok durga puja Sayantani ....hugs and smiles

  5. Loved the recipe Sayantani. Bookmarking it :)

  6. Very useful information. Thanks a lot. Following you.

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