The season of soups and broths is upon us. Why not throw some brown rice into our flavorful chicken broth and call it a pulao.
I have always had this love for pulao ever since I was a kid. In our home, Friday was usually pulao day. The schools used to have half days, that meant we came home earlier. Then, the boys went to pray juma (midday prayer) at the mosque and the girls prayed at home. After the prayer we all would sit down to a freshly made pot of pulao. My mother always served raita and chutney along with it.
I remember over-stuffing myself most of the time as I loved pulao and white rice does this thing to you. It doesn’t leave you with a satiating feeling and as a result, you tend to over eat. The main reason behind that is white rice contains 80% carbs since the hull, bran and germ are removed. Brown rice, on the other hand is the entire whole rice grain. It keeps the nutrient-packed bran and germ and only has the hull removed. As a result brown rice is richer in many nutrients and leaves you with a satiated feeling.
I did not want to give up eating pulao, but I wanted to enjoy it in a healthier way. So, I decided to experiment and swap my white rice with brown. It took me a few tries to get it right but I am glad I did. The pulao made with brown rice tastes really good too and fills me up. I am happy that I can enjoy my pulao without guilt.
The Parboiling Method
Parboiling is a cooking technique in which the rice is partially cooked in boiling water, but removed before it is cooked all the way through. I always parboil my rice before using it for my recipe because of 2 reasons:
- It removes a big percentage of arsenic from the brown rice, which is a toxic substance having adverse effects on health
- It makes the rice fluffy and provides a nice texture.
I highly recommend you parboil your brown rice as well.
Ingredients at a glance
- I highly recommend using bone-in chicken like thighs and legs for this recipe. The bones make the broth in which rice is cooked very flavourful.
- Avoid using boneless breast as it will get very dry while cooking.
- I recommend using basmati brown rice as it has a really nice aroma. In Germany, you will find organic quality basmati brown rice at stores like DM, Rossmann and Al-natura.
- Use a good quality garam masala, as it is one of the key ingredients and will affect the results. I like to use my homemade garam masala blend.
Brown Rice Chicken Pulao
- 2 cups (400 grams) basmati brown rice
- 3 Tbsp full fat yogurt
- 2 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1 Tbsp ground fennel seeds (saunf powder)
- 1 Tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 kg chicken with bones (preferably thigh and leg)
- 1 big onion
- ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cups (750 ml) water
- 1 green chili
- 1½ tsp salt
- Wash the rice in water by rubbing gently between hands. Drain the water and repeat at least 3 times or until the water that runs our isn't cloudy anymore. Once the rice is clean, fill with fresh water and let it soak for at least 20 minutes.
- While the rice is soaking let us prepare the marinade. Take a bowl and add the yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, ground fennel seeds, coriander powder, garam masala and salt. Mix well to make a smooth paste. Rub this paste all over your chicken and let it to rest on room temperature until you are finished with the other steps.
- Peel and thinly slice the onion. Set aside.
- Take a big pot and put it on medium heat. Add the olive oil and let it heat. Once hot, add the sliced onion and fry until it is golden brown. Keep stirring to ensure even frying.
- Once the onion is golden brown, add the cumin seeds and bay leaves and fry for 30 seconds.
- Add the marinated chicken to the pot and saute for 3 minutes on medium heat. Once the chicken has changed color from all sides, add 3 cups of water. Cover with a lid and lower the heat. Let it cook for 10 minutes to make a broth.
- Parboiling the rice: In the meanwhile, drain the water from the rice. Transfer it to a big pot and fill with fresh water (at least thrice the amount of rice). Bring it to a boil and keep it boiling for 5 minutes. Then discard all the water from the rice through a sieve and reserve the rice.
- Coming back to the broth, which has been cooking for 10 minutes now. Add your parboiled rice to the broth. Split open the green chilli lengthwise and add it to the pot (optional). Add the salt. Give everything a quick mix. Cover with a lid and let cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, check if the rice grain are done by pressing it between your fingertips. You should be able to squish it. If your rice still look soggy open the lid and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. The remaining liquid will eventually settle down.
- Serve with raita and coriander chutney.