Instant Pot Indian Chicken Pulao

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Instant Pot Indian Chicken Pulao is a lighter cousin of chicken biryani, a great gateway dish for someone new to Indian food. Similar to a rice pilaf only with chicken and aromatic spices.

Instant Pot Indian Chicken Pulao is a lighter cousin of chicken biryani, a great gateway dish for someone new to Indian food. Similar to a rice pilaf only with chicken and aromatic spices.
Instant Pot Chicken Pulao

Chicken Pulao is also much lighter than chicken biryani, and it’s absolutely delicious! If you’re a fan of chicken and rice, you will love this less popular one-pot Indian dish. And bonus, thanks to the pressure cooker it takes about 30 minutes start to finish! You can see more Instant Pot recipes here.

Instant Pot Indian Chicken Pulao is a lighter cousin of chicken biryani, a great gateway dish for someone new to Indian food. Similar to a rice pilaf only with chicken and aromatic spices.

Guys, I love Indian food! I eat it every chance I can. So when I got my hands on the Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook (affil link) I was all in! This cookbook has so many great Indian recipes for the Instant Pot, including chicken biryani. But I wanted to try something different, something with ingredients that were easy to find and was so happy to make this.

I did slightly adapt it for my taste, I used less liquid, less ghee and less chile peppers but I’ll be honest, I’ve made this quite a few times because it’s really quite delicious. Although they recommend this for 4 servings, I made it for 5 because the portions were really large.

The great thing about chicken pulao is that it’s easy to adapt – you can make it as spicy or mild as you wish, and use whatever spices you prefer.  The cilantro and squeeze of lemon at the end is a must, it really brightens the whole dish. And pictured above on the side is a simple beet raita which is a mix of cooked beets and yogurt.

How To Make Stove Top Chicken Pulao

To make this on the stove, use a heavy pot or Dutch oven and increase the liquid by double. Bring to a boil and let the water simmer, then cover and cook 22 to 25 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and keep covered, 22 to 24 minutes.

Instant Pot Indian Chicken Pulao is a lighter cousin of chicken biryani, a great gateway dish for someone new to Indian food. Similar to a rice pilaf only with chicken and aromatic spices.Instant Pot Indian Chicken Pulao is a lighter cousin of chicken biryani, a great gateway dish for someone new to Indian food. Similar to a rice pilaf only with chicken and aromatic spices.Instant Pot Indian Chicken Pulao is a lighter cousin of chicken biryani, a great gateway dish for someone new to Indian food. Similar to a rice pilaf only with chicken and aromatic spices.Instant Pot Indian Chicken Pulao is a lighter cousin of chicken biryani, a great gateway dish for someone new to Indian food. Similar to a rice pilaf only with chicken and aromatic spices.

More Instant Pot Recipes

Instant Pot Indian Chicken Pulao is a lighter cousin of chicken biryani, a great gateway dish for someone new to Indian food. Similar to a rice pilaf only with chicken and aromatic spices.
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4.55 from 48 votes
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Instant Pot Indian Chicken and Rice Pulao

7
9
7
SP
396 Cals 35.5 Protein 47.5 Carbs 6.5 Fats
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Yield: 5 servings
COURSE: Dinner
CUISINE: Indian
Instant Pot Indian Chicken Pulao is a lighter cousin of chicken biryani, a great gateway dish for someone new to Indian food. Similar to a rice pilaf only with chicken and aromatic spices.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon ghee , or butter or even oil to make dairy free
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 green cardamom pods, or 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2- inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 hot green chiles, sliced (optional)
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Instructions

  • Measure the rice into a wire-mesh strainer, then rinse under running water for 10 seconds, swishing it around. Repeat once more, then drain and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the ginger, garlic, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of the salt.
  • Add the chicken and turn to coat. Set aside, or cover the bowl and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
  • Select the high Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and heat the ghee.
  • Add the cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves and sauté until the spices are aromatic, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens and browns, about 5 minutes.
  • Cover the pot with a glass lid (or other non-locking lid) that fits to speed up the process.
  • Add the chicken and its marinade, the chiles, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt to the pot and stir until the chicken is coated with the spices.
  • Press the Cancel button to turn off the Instant Pot.
  • Add the rice and water and stir well with a wooden spoon, nudging loose any browned bits from the pot bottom. Scrape down the sides of the pot to make sure that most of the rice is submerged in the water.
  • Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook or Manual setting and set the cooking time for 6 minutes on high pressure.
  • Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam.
  • Press the cancel button to turn off the Instant Pot. Open the pot, sprinkle in the cilantro, and gently fluff the rice with a fork.
  • Use a rice paddle to scoop the rice out of the pot into individual plates, then serve with the lemon wedges on the side.

Stove Top Method

  • To make this on the stove, use a heavy pot or Dutch oven and increase the liquid by double 2 1/2 cups. Bring to a boil and let it simmer until it starts to evaporate, then cover and cook 22 to 25 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and keep covered, 22 to 24 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 11/2 cups, Calories: 396kcal, Carbohydrates: 47.5g, Protein: 35.5g, Fat: 6.5g, Saturated Fat: 2.5g, Cholesterol: 106mg, Sodium: 513mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1.5g
Blue Smart Points: 7
Green Smart Points: 9
Purple Smart Points: 7
Points +: 7
Keywords: chicken pulao, instant pot chicken and rice, instant pot indian chicken pulao, instant pot indian recipes, pressure cooker

Indian Chicken Recipe

Photo credit: Jess Larson

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121 comments

  1. Hi! I am just wondering what the pink side dish is and if there is a recipe for it?

  2. Would this work pot-in-pot method, cooking the rice in a bowl (with its own water) on top of the chicken? It sounds delish, but my kids would not like the rice mixed in with the sauce.

  3. I did this as the stove top version. I think it came out pretty good. Chicken was a touch dry. I marinade the chicken for 8 hours. I didn’t know how many cloves to use so I used a 1/2 tsp ground and it was not overpowering. The rice came out really well. Cilantro and lemon to finish it off. Don’t skip the fresh lemon. It’s a nice touch at the end.

  4. Rice well cooked, used basmiti rice (Carolina) brand. Probably the instruction to push it down in the liquid is key, and I did do that. The only thing different for me was had cardamon seeds not pods, and I forgot to put in a “clove” that was mentioned. I think my chicken was a bit too dry in 6 minutes-try 5? or-I am wondering if not waiting to release pressure for 5 minute–maybe after 2 or 3 might help. That said the chicken was still tender. The seasonings are very gentle and subtle. I just love the fragrance of the combination. I enjoy Indian food and seasonings.

  5. This was AMAZING!  I accidentally used a whole lemon worth of juice but it was still delicious and didn’t need the lemon wedges on the side!  My whole family loved it!!!

  6. Just made for the first time in my IP, and it was perfect! I used thighs instead of breasts but otherwise followed it to the letter. It was delicious with a cucumber raita. My wife loved it, too. It made our kitchen smell like an Indian restaurant!

  7. instructions say to add Cloves .. but Cloves arent listed in Ingrediants .. ??

  8. This was delicious! Indian food can be tricky because of all the spices and steps but this was easy and actually tasted pretty authentic! All plates were licked clean!

  9. This was pretty good, but for the amount of work involved I won’t do it again. I did use ground cumin and cinnamon instead. I added extra water (and was glad I did). It as nice to try a new recipe but I won’t do it again, 

  10. Excellent! The whole family liked it, and my wife and I took leftovers to work for lunch today.

  11. You mention cloves in the instructions, but not in the ingredients. I do have the Indian Instant Pot Cookbook and she says 8 cloves. Is that correct?

    • I made half the recipe and decided to use 2 whole cloves. Also due to comments from other posts decided to cook 15 mins and NR 10 mins. Rice came out perfect and delicious 😋 

  12. So delicious and so homey! Perfect all-year round and appealing to all ages!

  13. I’m looking to try this, and some of the other Indian dishes (looking for some macro friendly Indian I can meal prep) – do you have a recipe for the beet raita? I love beets, but get bored of roasting and then don’t end up eating them!

  14. This was so good!!! We all loved it, kids and adults alike. My 10 year old daughter said that this meal just shot up to her top 10 favorites!!

  15. What am I doing wrong? I followed the instructions to a T and i kept getting the BURN notification, added more water and it happened again. Thankfully the chicken was already cooked through so I ate it but the rice was mushy. Everyone seems to love the instant pot but I can’t get it to work right!

  16. I changed the cooking time to about 16 min with 10 min natural release after reading some comments on here that 6 minutes as stated was better for “quick cook” basmati rice. Also confused why step 3 says to marinate chicken for 12 hours… why is this not step 1????

    Anyway, this turned out delicious. I used fresnos for my chillis. What is the purple stuff in photos at top? Almost looks like potatoes?

  17. I’m so sad! This is the first Skinny Taste recipe that I’ve made that didn’t turn out!  After the appropriate amount of cooking time in the instant pot, the rice was still hard! The flavor was delicious, though.  I’m going to try doubling the cooking time.

  18. This is the first skinny taste recipe I made that just didn’t work.  I followed the recipe exactly, and when I opened the instant pot it was a soupy mess and the rice was completely uncooked.  I had to add water and close the pot again and recook..  It looks nothing like the pictures.  It smelled amazing and I was really excited to try it.  So disappointing!

  19. Hi, Gina/fellow Skinnytasters! I’m hoping to make this tonight and I’m confused re: the cloves. I’ve read through the comments and am unclear if the mistake is not including cloves in the list of ingredients or if the mistake is that they’re listed in the instructions. Also wondering if it makes that much of a difference either way. Thanks in advance for any info!

  20. I made this and my family LOVED it… i note that the quantity of cloves is missing from the ingredients list but listed in the instructions…

  21. What are you serving it with?  Is that beet salad?

  22. Delicious recipe ! After googling I realized that if you have quick cooking basmati rice you can pressure cook on high for 6 min and wait 5 min for natural release else you need to pressure cook on high for 22 min and wait for 10 min for natural release. From reading  other comments I also used 2 whole cloves (not listed in the ingredients list)

  23. hi, I really enjoyed the flavors of this dish but I think your calorie count is off by quite a bit.

    I used slightly less chicken than you called for and only got a total of three servings (1.5 cups each) and by my calculations it was about 633 calories per serving. Even assuming that you get 5 servings from this recipe, the chicken alone would be 156 calories per serving. The National Chicken Council says that a 3.5 ounce portion of boneless skinless chicken breast is 114 calories, which makes it 32.5 calories per ounce. Multiply that by 24 ounces (which is the amount of chicken called for in the recipe) and you get 781.7 calories. Divide that by five servings, it’s 156 calories.

    Then you have the rice. I weighed out 1.5 cups of uncooked rice and it came out to 10 ounces. This would be over 1000 calories of cooked rice, so in my case where I only got three servings, that’s another 300+ calories per serving to add to the chicken, but assuming you got 5 servings, it would be 200 calories per serving. So that alone would be 200 calories for the rice plus 156 for the chicken, or a total of 356 calories per serving, not including the calories for the ghee, onion, etc.

    I also found the chicken to be overcooked at 6 minutes in the Instant Pot so next time I will use chicken thighs or cook for less time.

    I’m the third person commenting to mention that the calorie counts are off – you may want to look into it and recalculate, or explain where you are getting your numbers. Thanks!

  24. I tried this last night and the taste was amazing. The addition of the green cardamom pods and cinnamon stick and others really made it. They definitely should not be skipped!
    I did have an issue with the instant pot overheating. I felt suspicious when I was adding only 1 1/4 c of water when there was 1.5 cups of rice, but I tried to follow it as closely as possible. I added more water after it gave me the error, but then the result was mushy rice. Also, i didn’t see an amount of cloves so I threw 2 in.
    I made the beet raita and loved it.
    I am going to try this again because I think the flavors are outstanding. I can see how it could be a real winner!

  25. My whole family loved this recipe! Spouse took it for lunch the next day and my 15 year old asked to do the same. That has NEVER happened!

  26. Amazing recipe! I’ve made this twice now. Both times came out perfectly. My husband and I love it. I made this delicious beet and cucumber raita on the side: https://ministryofcurry.com/roasted-beetroot-and-cucumber-salad/. I made it with Greek yogurt!

    Quick question though. If I were to double this, would you also double the cooking time from 6 minutes to 12? 

    Thank you!

  27. I love Indian food and this was fantastic!  I made a quick cucumber raita to go alongside.  Amazing. 

  28. My chicken never got cooked in the instant pot. What did I do wrong?? I ran it through 3 times and it never cooked. What a bummer after the effort of purchasing and prepping 😒

  29. The instructions say to add cloves, but I don’t see quantity in the ingredient list.  How much would you recommend?  Thanks!

  30. Trust me – this recipe is RIDICULOUSLY good! I made it on the stove top – only changes were 1 cup of rice to about 1 3/4 cup of chicken stock. Used the Gina-patented trick of rice cooking – boil off some of the liquid before covering. Once covered, I cooked on low for about 25 minutes. Agree that the cilantro and squeeze of lemon before serving is key. Many thanks Gina – this really was a treat!

    • Couldn’t agree more! I followed your alterations for stove top method! I always get a “burn” signal on my pressure cooker when making Indian food in it.  This turned out sooooooo good! Thanks for your comment! Definitely will make this again!

  31. can u give alternative way to cook this dish if I am not using Instant Pot??

  32. i made this today following the recipe exactly, using 1 serrano. It’s delicious. I was nervous that the chicken would be overcooked or dry but it wasn’t and both the chicken and rice were very flavorful.. This recipe will definitely be a regular in our house.

  33. The flavors are amazing! My only problem is that my rice came out mushy. Any suggestions?

  34. This recipe is outstanding for a quick Instant Pot dinner that is unique, easy, and filling. My entire family loved it.  I eliminated the hot pepper.  My 3 year old even had seconds! Thank you for another great! 

    • This was very tasty. I did not trust my instant pot with the rice so I made the dish in a Dutch oven. We like a lot of spice so I added even more Indian curry after it was cooked. The consistency was perfect but I would definitely call it rice with some chicken and I even put two pounds of chicken in.  

  35. Delicious! I added a black cardamom seed as well and Punjabi garam masala (contains mace and star anise). The flavour was amazing. My only issue was that the chicken was extremely dry so I would recommend to others to cut their chicken in larger pieces. The rice was perfect!

  36. This a great! I used 1 tsp Garam Masala, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp cumin, and 2 bay leaves. Absolutely fantastic! It’s also great the next day for lunch. Squeeze of lemon is a must!

  37. I tried to make it. The spices were too expensive to justify buying them for one recipe. Sticks, pods, and seeds were $$$$ so I used garam masala. It did taste “indian” but I also used brown basmati rice so had to extend the cooking time quite significantly. The rice was good but the chicken was super dry. So, if I wanted to do brown rice, I think i’d try to adapt it to the stove top. I think it is probably amazing if you follow the recipe exactly 🙂

  38. Made this tonight exactly to recipe. Rice was still tough and al dente yet chicken was slightly over done. BUT the flavors and the smell were amazingggggggggg. Will retry this recipe again, tweaking cook times. 

  39. Could you share your recipe and points for the beet side dish? 

  40. When I calculated this into my calorie tracking app, each serving (of 5) was 470 calories. Very confused

  41. This was really good. I just made it at the beach and everyone raved. Thanks for a great recipe. 

  42. This dish was absolutely delicious. We like spice so I added yellow curry paste. Made it just like Gina recommended with beet raita on a side. Yogurt cooled off the heat. This will be definitely added to my recipe box.

  43. Why does it mention cloves but there are no cloves in the ingredient list?

  44. Excellent!!

  45. Duuuuude…..(ma’am) Best recipe ever!!!! I’m sitting here simultaneously eating it, commenting about it, and trying to talk myself out of going over my 7 points. Like a recent comment, I make your recipes often (thank you for all your hard work), comment rarely, and this is my favorite to date. Though to be fair, I share your dire love of Indian food. There is an astounding amount of flavor packed in this dish. I served with a super quick site of cucumber raita (because I forgot to cook my beets before the pulao). Cumin seeds make the world go round <3 <3 <3

  46. This is amazing! I’ve been making Skinnytaste recipes for years and have all the cookbooks but this is the first time I’m actually leaving a review. I don’t like spicy so I used 2 jalapenos and removed the seeds and it wasn’t spicy at all. My boyfriend said this is hands down the best thing I’ve ever made and we’ve been together 9 years. It is so flavorful! I will definitely be making this on a regular basis! I have liked every single Skinnytaste recipe I have made but this is by far my favorite! Thank you Gina!

  47. Made this tonight and it was delicious. Will definitely add it to our rotation of dinners. Thanks again Gina!

  48. The recipe is delicious.  But, I am having a hard time reconciling the carb number listed on the nutrition?  Is that a typo?  for 5 servings and 1.5 cups of raw basmati, it should be much more, right?  I 

  49. What kind of peppers? Jalapeño?  Serrano?

  50. Just made this tonight. The flavor was really delicious and the recipe was easy in the IP. Instead of whole cloves and cardamom pods we used garam masala and a little less cumin seed and a sprinkle of ground clove. The only thing I’m not sure how to fix was that it didn’t come out like a rice pilaf or biriyani, more like a glutinous, sticky rice. Any suggestions?

  51. Hi can I use ground cumin in place of cumin seeds? If so what is the ratio? Can’t wait to try it tomorrow! 

  52. This was absolutely delicious! My husband gave it 5 stars!

  53. Hello Gina,
      I am making the recipe tonight and was wondering it calls for two cloves but what are they cloves?

  54. Hello gina the recipe calls for two cloves, is it garlic or pepper

  55. Hello Gina,

    We made this last night and it was fantastic!

    What is the purple “side” in the photo?

  56. This might be a dumb question, but are the green chilies jalapeños? They look like them, but I wasn’t sure.

    • You can use either, jalapenos are milder

      • So the green chiles I see at my grocery store are jalapeño, poblanos, Serrano, or Anaheim. Are any of those the type you used, or did you get those from a specialty store? Was trying to see if there was a specific name I could look for.  Thanks!

      • Jalapenos are mild, spicier would be serrano. You can use whatever you wish depending on your heal level.

  57. Excellent recipe! I made it for dinner tonight and it truly didn’t take more than 30 minutes- although I did marinate the chicken for about two hours. The blend of spices was perfect! Indian food doesn’t have to be fiery hot and this dish is the perfect example. Thanks, Gina! I will definitely be making this again!

  58. can I make this in a crock pot?

  59. I would like to try this and serve it over cauliflower rice. So if I cut back the water to 1/2 cup, do you think that would work?

  60. What would the time be if you use brown basmati rice?

  61. Is the pressure cook time the same if using the 8qt. Instant Pot Duo or should it be longer? When I made your quinoa instant pot recipe it took twice as long. This recipe sounds good. What type or brand of Basmati rice do you recommend. I love the long skinny grain rice but mine never looks like that when finished. Thanks Gina!

  62. I made this last night, it is delicious!

    I didn’t have chicken breast around so I threw four thighs in the pot and then shredded the meat after cooking. I will probably use breasts next time, just to save myself the extra shredding step, but it was still great.

  63. Would love your recipe for that beet raita!

  64. Can I use long grain white rice or does basmati rice add a special flavor to the dish?

  65. can I use a crock pot instead?

  66. is this portion size 1-1/2 cups of chicken only OR 1-1/2 cups chicken and rice.
    Thanks

  67. I love Indian food! ❤️ Can’t wait to try this! 

  68. What are the pink/purple wedges pictured on the right side of the plate?

    • It’s beet raita, a combination of cooked beets & yogurt.
      Didn’t see a link for the recipe, & haven’t had a chance to scan the index yet.

  69. I made this tonight…..it is delicious.  The flavors are very subtle.  I added peas at the end when I was fluffing the rice.  Will make this again.

  70. I too would love to see alternate instructions for cooking this on a stovetop if possible. Sounds SO good! Thanks for all of your wonderful recipes Gina!!

  71. Can you make this with brown rice, or only basmati?

  72. This looks delicious!  Can you adapt the recipe to stove top?

  73. Can you make this on the stove top if you don’t have an insta pot?

  74. Hi, recipe looks great. I do not have a insta pot- what would be the stove top version. Thanks