Rice is the staple food of most of southeastern Asia. Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans use rice to make different forms of main course dishes.
One of my personal favorite is the Yakni Pulao. My family loves it too. Many use goat meat for this preparation, but as a busy mom, I like to use chicken, as it cooks faster. This is two-step cooking. The only thing that takes time is to make the yakni.
Yakni Polao recipe was handed over to us from the Moguls. It is said to have originated in Persia.
Yakni is basically the stock of the meat used in the Polao. It is cooked with the meat and spices to form an aromatic broth steeping with flavor.
The make the broth the meat and spices are put in a bundle inside a cheesecloth and added to the boiling liquid. This is called the bouquet grani. I like to cook all the spices in the meat without putting them in any cloth. I don’t mind the occasional sticking of cardamom or peppercorns to the meat pieces. For me, it just adds to the texture.
The second step includes cooking of the rice and the meat in the flavored broth.
The result is a lip-smacking and most satisfying pulao.
Often such dishes are accompanied with raita. A yogurt mixed with chopped green chilis, onions and roasted spices. People have their own person take on the raita and often add or omit some of the chopped veggies that are mixed into it.
So, let’s get started and make this dish and enjoy each morsel of it.
Serves: 6 Type: Main Course (Indian/Pakistani)
Prep. Time: 30 mins Cook Time: 2hours
2lb bone-in meat (goat or chicken)
2 cups of basmati rice (soak in water)
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp black cumin seed (not onion seeds)
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 cinnamon sticks
7 green cardamoms
5 black cardamoms
2 bay leaves
1 tsp of black whole pepper
2 onions (one cut into four pieces and one finely sliced)
8 garlic cloves
Oil for cooking
To make the Yakni:
In a heavy bottom pan, pour two cups of water and add chicken, cardamoms, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, bay leaf, the quartered onion, garlic, and ginger. Add salt to taste.
These can be made into bouquet garni while making the yakni, but I let the spices boil freely in the broth.
Let the broth boil on medium-low heat till the chicken is tender. Do not overcook the broth.
Once the chicken is soft, use a slotted spatula and remove the meat from the broth. Switch of the heat. The bay leaves, ginger and the woody spices can be removed with the slotted spatula too. The onion and garlic could be mashed into the broth. If you like a smooth broth, use a strainer to remove all lumps.
Your yakni is ready.
To make the Polao:
You can use the same pan once the stock has been transferred to another bowl.
Pour oil and fry the sliced onions until brown. Add the drained rice and the meat. One quick stir and add the broth.
Remember to measure the broth according to the rice. I usually use one cup rice and 1 ½ cup broth ratio.
Lower the heat and cover the pot.
Cook for about 20 mins.
Do not open the lid, and switch off the heat and let it rest for 10 to 15 mins.
Serve hot with raita and savour each spoonful.
Photos by the author
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