I love chicken and rice dishes, especially biryani’s and pulao (pilaf). If the restaurant that I am eating at serves biryani/pulao I would order it without batting an eyelid. It would be good or bad..but that is not the point..it is chicken and rice and I like it – period. I sometimes make them at home, and many of the recipes that I have followed are pretty cumbersome, involves a long list of ingredients, and then a pile of dishes to clean up. So today I decided to simplify the recipe and bake the chicken pulao in the oven (I am still learning the finer points of oven cooking.)
6 chicken legs
2 cups Basmati rice (washed twice, and soaked in water for 15 minutes)
crushed black pepper (for chicken)
a pinch of saffron, steeped in hot water
a teaspoon of garam masala (I make my own blend of spices – coriander, cumin, nutmeg, mace, black cardamom, cloves, black pepper, dried red chillies)
one bay leaf
salt to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
1. Rub the chicken legs with crushed black pepper and salt, and pan sear them till the skin is crisp and the meat turns golden brown. Take the chicken off heat and rest.
2. Wash 2 cups of Basmati rice twice, till the water runs clear. Drain water and let the rice sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile boil three cups of water, and steep saffron in hot water. Take a half size foil pan, transfer the soaked rice and chicken to the pan. Spoon over the steeped saffron and sprinkle the garam masala. Pour the boiled water over the rice and chicken. Add one bay leaf, two crushed black cardamoms and salt to taste. Seal the pan tightly with foil and place it in the oven for one hour.
3. After exactly one hour, take the pan out of the oven, and garnish the pulao with fried onions. Put the pan back into the oven for another 5 minutes.
4. You can serve the pulao with an assortments of cucumber yogurt raita, pickles etc. I photographed the dish with carrot pickle.