Yakhni Pulao


This tasty rice pilaf dish is a classic at North Indian meals where it is known as a pulao. It gets its modifier -- yakhni (pronounced akhni) -- from the meat stock it is cooked in. Yakhni pulao can be served with just a simple vegetable raita but you can go all out and add a curry dish too if you like.

Prep: 30 mins

Cook: 80 min

Recipe Serving: 6


    For the Spice Bundle:

  • 6-inch square muslin
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 6 cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • For the Meat and Rice:

  • 2 pounds/1 kg. goat meat or lamb with bones (cut into 2-inch or bite-sized pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons ginger paste
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil (vegetable, sunflower or canola)
  • 4 large onions (2 chopped fine, 2 sliced very thinly)
  • 2 1/2 cups basmati rice (washed well)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened yogurt
  • Salt to taste


    Make the Spice Bundle

  • If you are using a pressure cooker, put 6 cups of water in it. If using a deep, heavy-bottomed pan, put 8 to 9 cups of water in it.
  • Cut a piece of muslin cloth into a 6-inch square and place the cinnamon, black and green cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, star anise, coriander and cumin seeds, bay leaf and red chili powder in the center of this square.
  • Gather up the edges and tie tightly with a piece of string to form a bundle. Put this bundle in the pressure cooker or pan.
  • For Meat and Rice

  • Cook the Meat and Rice
  • Add the ginger, garlic pastes, meat, and salt to taste to the pressure cooker or pan and close. Boil till the meat is almost cooked.
  • Remove the muslin bag and throw it away. Remove the meat from the pot and reserve. The stock left in the pot should measure 6 cups. If there is more, boil it down till you get 6 cups. If there is less, add hot water to get 6 cups.
  • In a separate deep pan, heat the cooking oil and add the chopped onions. Fry till light golden.
  • Now add the reserved meat, reduced stock, rinse rice and yogurt, and mix well. Cook on medium till the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the rice is done. The rice is done when you press a few grains between your index finger and thumb and they feel firm but mash completely (just like al dente pasta).
  • Turn off the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  • This step is optional -- while the rice is resting, fry the sliced onions in cooking oil till caramelized and golden. Drain and keep on paper towels.
  • Open the pan and stir the rice well, taking care not to break up the pieces of meat.
  • Garnish with optional fried sliced onions and serve piping hot with a vegetable raita or curry dish of your choice.