Chicken Pilaf: Middle Eastern Rice

Travel to the heart of the Middle East with the tantalizing flavors and aromas of chicken pilaf, a delightful one-pot dish that combines tender, marinated chicken with fragrant, spiced rice. This culinary treasure has been enjoyed for centuries and is known for its rich blend of spices, herbs, and succulent chicken, making it a truly satisfying and comforting meal. Perfect for family gatherings or a hearty weeknight dinner, chicken pilaf is a versatile and crowd-pleasing dish that’s sure to impress. So, let’s embark on a culinary journey to the Middle East and discover the secrets of making an authentic, delicious chicken pilaf.


  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currants
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish
  • Optional: toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts, for garnish


  • In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken, yogurt, cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper (if using), black pepper, and salt. Mix well, ensuring the chicken is evenly coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours for the best flavor.
  • In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the marinated chicken pieces (discarding any excess marinade) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is browned and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate and set aside.
  • In the same skillet, add the chopped onion and cook until it’s softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Stir in the rinsed and drained basmati rice, coating it with the onion and garlic mixture. Add the chicken broth and raisins or currants, and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and let the rice simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until it’s tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Stir the cooked chicken back into the rice mixture, and let it warm through for a couple of minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  • Transfer the chicken pilaf to a serving platter or individual plates, and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, and toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts, if desired.

In conclusion, chicken pilaf is a flavorful and satisfying Middle Eastern dish that brings together tender chicken and fragrant, spiced rice in a symphony of tastes and aromas. To ensure the best results, use high-quality spices and fresh herbs to impart their full flavors to the dish. Additionally, using authentic basmati rice will add a delicate texture and inviting aroma to your pilaf. With its rich history and mouthwatering taste, chicken pilaf is sure to become a favorite in your culinary repertoire, transporting you and your loved ones to the vibrant and diverse world of Middle Eastern cuisine.

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