The diversity of the Indian subcontinent is manifested through diverse languages, religions, culture and of course its cuisine! As I had mentioned in my previous posts that different states and regions have a variety of culinary traditions, each displaying the rich diversity of India’s composite culture. Here it’s worth mentioning that our cuisine is highly region-based. Though the basic components remain more or less same, the flavour and spices vary according to the taste and culture of that region.

My today’s post is from that part of the country which is known as the paradise on earth. Thanks to my husband’s profession, over the last 30 years, I had visited many places within India and abroad. But the natural beauty and serenity I experienced in the Kashmir valley is unparalleled and completely captured my senses. I will not be exaggerating saying that if there is heaven on earth, it is there, there and nowhere else! And its rich cuisine completely complements its breath-taking natural beauty!

Chicken Yakhni Pulao, as it’s called, is a Kashmiri style chicken pulao(pilaf) made with long grain basmati rice cooked in flavourful chicken stock, called Yakhni which is infused with whole spices. Yakhni is a simple stock or broth made with whole spices and sometimes an addition of onions and ginger-garlic. The broth is cooked for quite some time to let the spices dispense their aromatic flavour and strong taste!

One interesting point of this pulao is the absence of tomatoes! Where the majority of Indian recipes use onion and tomatoes as the key ingredients, its absence makes this pulao stands apart. Instead, here curd is used to give it the desired taste.

Without saffron

Difficulty level: Moderate
Preparation time: 50 min
Cooking time: Almost an hour


For yakhni:
  • Chicken- 1 kg
  • Onion- 1 large
  • Ginger- 1 inch, sliced
  • Garlic- 3 cloves, long
  • Bay leaf- 1
  • Cumin, whole- 1 tsp
  • Coriander, whole- 1 tbsp.
  • Fennel seeds- 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon stick- 2
  • Clove- 5-6
  • Whole black pepper- ½ tsp
  • Green cardamom- 4-5
  • Black cardamom- 2
  • Star anise-1
  • Salt- 1 tsp
  • Water- 3 cups


  • Basmati rice- 3 cups
  • Oil- ¼ cup
  • Clarified butter-1/4 cup
  • Onion-One large, sliced
  • Ginger-garlic paste- 1 tbsp.
  • Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
  • Green cardamom-4-5
  • Cinnamon stick-1
  • Black pepper- ½ tsp
  • Green chilli- 4-5 pieces
  • Yoghurt- ½ cup
  • Mace powder-1/4 tsp
  • Nutmeg powder-1/4 tsp
  • Sugar- 1 tbsp.
  • Bay leaf- 1
  • Salt- to taste


To prepare the yakhni:

In a wok, put chicken pieces, whole dry masalas for yakhni, onion, ginger- garlic, salt and water and boil for 10 min on high heat. Then reduce the heat and boil for another 5 min.
Once it cools down slightly, remove the chicken pieces.
Strain the water to separate it from the whole spices.
The yakhni or the broth is ready. Cover and keep it aside.

  • In a large pan or wok, put oil and clarified butter together. When it is mild hot (otherwise the clarified butter or ghee will burn), put cumin seeds, green cardamom, whole black pepper, cinnamon stick and bay leaf and sauté for few a seconds.
  • Add sliced onion and fry till golden brown.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté.
  • Add mace and nutmeg powder and mix well.
  • Add the chicken pieces and mix well till well coated with the masala.
  • Add sugar.
  • Beat yoghurt and add to the chicken. Mix well.
  • Add green chilies.
  • Add the stock. Bring it to a boil and add rice. Adjust salt.
  • Cook on low flame till the rice is done and water is reduced.
  • Add 1 tbsp. clarified butter.
  • Serve hot with fried onions(optional).
With saffron


In any pulao recipe, the quality of rice matters. So, opt for good quality long grain basmati rice to obtain the actual taste.

This recipe is without turmeric, another important ingredient in any Indian recipe. But one can easily opt for Kesar to give that yellow tinge and for some extra flavour.

While serving the pulao, you can add some fried onions, i.e., beresta to enhance the taste. But this is just a suggestion and not an absolute necessity! It’s a slow cooking method to let the spices and chicken to give out flavour and fragrance.

Flavorful, aromatic and delightful yakhni pulao is a perfect one-pot meal. The whole process is lengthy no doubt, but the end result is so delicious that satisfaction ultimately overpowers the agony of an elaborate recipe.

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