Afghan Chicken Pulao

Serves 4-6

| Prep Time: 15 mins

| Cook Time: 45 mins

| Total Time: 60 mins

You may need: Dried Garlic Powder

Discover The Recipe

Important gatherings in Afghanistan are not complete without generous servings of fragrant, spiced rice dishes called 'Pulao'. Typically served on large platters to showcase a bountiful meal, these rice pilaf-style dishes can be elaborate or quite simple and may be vegetarian or feature chicken or lamb. Customize this Afghan Chicken Pulao to your tastes. Sautéed aromatics like onions and ginger layer flavors with warm spices like cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mild heat is balanced by sweet notes from dried fruit like raisins or apricots and each bite may be accented with crunchy surprises from sliced nuts such as almonds or pistachios.

Owing to its central location along two key routes on the Silk Road ancient spice trading trail, Afghani cuisine transforms simple ingredients into beautiful and aromatic delights. Garam Masala is an essential seasoning in South Asian cuisine from India to Afghanistan. Fragrant and pleasantly spicy, this blend is loaded with flavor and versatile. Use in lentil stews, curries, rice dishes, or season meats and veggies directly. Save time by making the shredded chicken beforehand or buying a rotisserie chicken from the market.


  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced into pieces

  • 3 Tbsp ghee - clarified butter (or use butter or olive oil)

  • 2 cups basmati rice (long grain preferred)

  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste

  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 Tbsp Piquant Post Garam Masala blend

  • pinch of saffron (optional)

  • 1 tsp salt (optional)

  • 1 cup shredded carrot (~1 large carrot)

  • 1/2 cup raisins (or other dried fruit like apricots)

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

  • ~1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves (optional)

  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

  • Salt & Pepper to taste (optional)

  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth


We’re excited to share in this recipe our technique to make the easiest shredded chicken! Use to make pulled chicken for so many recipes in just 20 mins!

Make extra chicken in step 1 and you can freeze the extra shredded chicken in zipper bags to make easy weeknight meals like taco salad or easy enchiladas.

This dish is best made in your largest oven-proof skillet, paella pan, or even a wok. Cast iron skillets work as well. If you like the rice a little crispy on the bottom, wide skillets where the rice mixture is a little shallow are your best bet.

This Afghan rice pilaf recipe is so easy to customize. Add in your favorite veggies, meat, nuts, and dried fruit.

Optional ingredients add a little character and flavor but don’t sweat it if you don’t have them.


First, prep all fresh ingredients. Heat a large oven- proof skillet or dutch oven on Med-High. Add ghee / butter and onions and cook for ~15 mins until golden brown (do not burn them). Stir occasionally.

While the onions cook, add 4 cups of water to a large pot and bring to boil. Add rice and parboil for 6 mins. Drain and strain rice in a colander or wire strainer. While rice is boiling, heat a skillet on Med-High and add olive oil. Season chicken then add to pan and sear for 5 mins. Reduce heat to Med-Low, flip the breasts, add 1 cup chicken broth then cover. Simmer chicken ~15 mins. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 deg.

Once onions are golden, add tomato paste, 3 cups of broth, garlic, Garam Masala, saffron, salt, and (drained) rice to the onions. Stir to combine. Place skillet with rice/onion mix into oven & cook for 45 mins.

When the chicken is done, remove from heat until safe to touch, reserving broth. Place on a cutting board and using 2 forks, shred chicken and set aside. With about 10 mins left of cook time for the skillet, add reserved broth, carrots, raisins, almonds to the rice skillet in the oven and finish cooking. Remove skillet from oven, stir in chicken & top with cilantro.

Alternatives & Substitutions

  • This Afghan Chicken Pulao (rice pilaf) dish takes a bit of time to cook. But it's worth the effort as you're rewarded with a flavor-packed dish and plenty of food to serve dinner guests or for leftovers.

  • Garam Masala is a classic South Asian spice blend that is heavily used in Indian and Pakistani rice, meat, chicken, and vegetable dishes. You can use it to spice up and add authentic Indian flavor to just about any dish. Try it in a red pasta sauce, sprinkle on oven-roasted veggies like carrots and onions, use in any stew, use it as a rub on lamb chops or chicken breasts, or add to sweet baked goods like brownies, pumpkin pie, or cupcakes for delightful, unexpected twist.

  • Prefer a vegetarian dish? Omit the chicken in this Pulao and substitute in roasted veggies like zucchini, eggplant, squash, plantains, or baked tofu.

  • Try using the Garam Masala spice blend to make our vegan Chana Masala (sweet potato chickpea stew) recipe.

  • Or try our Saag Tofu (Indian Spinach stew) recipe.

  • Be sure to leave comments and feedback on your meals and experiments in the comments for others to read.

  • Post pictures of your masterpiece meal on social media and tag us. We repost!

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