The celebration of sour flavours in Hyderabadi food is the inspiration behind the recipe for kairi pulao in this post. The abundance of raw mangoes in summer is used to make sour khatti (sour) dal, chutneys, pickles, curries, raita, chicken and meat dishes and even a kairi mutton biryani. My recipe for kairi pulao is a lighter, summer-friendly, less spicy version of chicken and raw mango pulao (pilaf). It’s ideal for hot summer days when you want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible and still turn out delicious meals.
Why everyone must know to cook a pulao
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you would’ve noticed that it has quite a few pulao recipes. Biryanis are higher in the hierarchy and I do enjoy a well-made biryani. The kachche gosht ki biryani is especially close to my heart but I have a special love for pulaos. That is because:
- Pulaos can be made on any day. They don’t need an occasion or advance planning.
- Pulaos are simpler, like this recipe for kairi pulao. All you need are 2 or 3 regular spices, a few vegetables/ meat/poultry/ seafood/ (even preserved meats like sausages work) and rice.
- There aren’t many steps to cooking a pulao, it doesn’t require advanced cooking skills and can pretty much be made in one pot/pan.
- It’s simple yet special enough to brighten mealtimes on a weekday .
- A pulao is light,has less ghee and oil, which means you can eat it more often without needing to nap after!
How to make kairi murgh pulao
This recipe for kairi pulao needs a few basic ingredients, all of which you’re likely to have in your kitchen. Raw, green mango is the star of this dish, so buy good quality, firm, slightly large-size mangoes. They’ll be very sour so you will need just one for this recipe. Sourness aside, the raw mango has an enticing, bright fragrance which wraps the chicken and rice in an aromatic embrace. To me, the smell of summer in India is this tart scent emanating from shiny mango leaves and the emerald-green skin of the raw fruit and the sticky sap that seeps out of the stalk when you break off the mango.
Like in all my pulaos, the chicken is marinated overnight (preferably) or for at least 2-3 hours, in a little yoghurt, ginger-garlic-green chilli paste and basic spices like ground turmeric, chilli and coriander powder. Next day, the chicken is cooked with fried onions and grated green mango till half done. Basmati rice (soaked for 20 minutes) is fried in ghee with onions and whole spices such as cloves, green cardamoms, cinnamon and caraway seeds. The rice and chicken are then mixed and cooked together low and slow for 20 minutes. That’s all it takes to produce a fragrant, deeply delicious murgh kairi pulao with succulent, mildly tart chicken and fluffy, scented, ghee-coated, glossy grains of rice all redolent with the smell of raw mangoes.
Similar recipes you may like
Murgh Kairi Pulao
- 600 g chicken, bone-in, skin removed, cut into medium-sized pieces
- 350 g Basmati rice
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 1 raw mango peeled and grated
- 20 curry leaves
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 3 cloves
- 3 green cardamoms
- 3 1-inch cinnamon sticks
- 2 dried, red Madras chillies
- 2½ tbsp ghee
For the marinade
- ½ tbsp garlic paste
- ½ tbsp ginger paste
- 1 tbsp green chilli paste
- 1½ tsp red chilli powder (use less or more as per your prefererence)
- 1 tbsp coriander (dhania) powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 4 tbsp yoghurt
- Place the chicken pieces in a bowl, mix in the ingredients for the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and upto 8 hours.
- Wash and soak the Basmati rice for 20 minutes. Drain completely.
- While the rice soaks, heat 1½ tbsps of ghee in a wide, heavy-bottomed pan / pot, add half the sliced onions and fry till translucent.
- Add the chicken and half the curry leaves and fry (bhuno) the chicken pieces on a medium flame. Put in the grated mango and cook the chicken for a further 10-12 minutes till the chicken is half cooked, the mango soft and pulpy and you have a thick gravy coating the chicken.
- Take the chicken out of the pan, add the remaining ghee and add the whole spices. Fry for 10 secs and add the rest of the onion.
- Fry till the onions are golden and then put in the soaked and drained rice. Fry the rice on a low flame for about 5 minutes till it is toasty and coated with ghee.
- Put in the chicken and the remaining curry leaves. Gently mix with the rice, spread the pulao in an even layer on the pan and add enough water to just cover the chicken and rice (only ½ mm above the surface, too much water will make the pulao mushy).
- Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook on a low flame for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, take the covered pan off the heat and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before opening. Gently lift the chicken and rice with a flat serving spoon into a serving dish and serve with cucumber raita.