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Chicken Pilaf | 鸡肉抓饭

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

I don't eat rice but when I do, it has to be something special like this Uyghur dish. As I had said before in my previous Uyghur recipe, their food is usually cooked for a large gathering. There is no difference for this dish as well.

Very much Injera, people will gather around this large plate of rice and they will dig in with your hands. On a side note, maybe I should post an Injera recipe in the future.

Anyway, this is not an orthodox or authentic version of the dish per se. I do switch the ingredients and cooking method around for a typical home kitchen. Because I know that not everybody, myself included, does not have a large wok.

Traditionally, lamb is used. I do not consume lamb, so I used chicken instead. Do not worry, as I have included tips on the directions down below for lamb as well as beef.

The salad pairs well with the rice to give uniqueness to the dish.

This recipe might seem quite complicated with a long list of ingredients and a long process, but once you have prepared the salad and chicken in advance, the cooking process is straightforwardly easy.

Whatever you do, do not skip the raisins. I know it is a bit awkward to cook raisins with savory meat and rice, but trust me, it adds a very complex flavor to the dish and makes this dish special. Without much further ado, let's get started with the recipe.



(Serve 4)

  • Salad:

  • High Quality Olive Oil, 1 TBSP + More

  • Red Onion Finely Minced, 1

  • Garlic Thinly Sliced, 3 Cloves

  • Mild Green Chili Deseeded, 1

  • Cucumber Cored Finely Sliced, 1/2

  • Tomatoes Cored Finely Sliced, 2

  • Chinese Black Vinegar, 20g

  • Dried Basil, Pinch

  • Sea Salt, Pinch

  • White Pepper, Pinch

  • Black Pepper, Pinch

  • Chicken:

  • Cumin Seeds, 1 TBSP

  • Sichuan Peppercorns, 1 TSP

  • Facing Heaven Pepper / 朝天椒 / de árbol, 3 Adjust To Preference

  • Chicken Thigh Boneless Skinless Diced Into 1" Cubes, 500g

  • Cornstarch, 2 TSP

  • Soy Sauce, 2 TBSP

  • High Quality Olive Oil, 2 TBSP

  • Sea Salt, Pinch

  • Dried Mushroom Powder, Pinch

  • Pilaf:

  • High Quality Olive Oil, 30g

  • Long Grain Rice, 210g

  • Red Onion Finely Sliced, 1

  • Sea Salt, Pinch

  • Demerara Sugar, Pinch

  • Garlic Finely Sliced, 3 Cloves

  • Carrots Preferable Organic Non-GMO Oblique Sliced, 250g

  • Chicken Stock, 354g + 118g

  • Raisins, 70g



  • Cast Iron Skillet / Pan

  • Spice Grinder



  1. Prepare the salad.

  2. In a skillet over medium heat, add onion and saute until translucent.

  3. Add in garlic and saute until aromatic.

  4. Remove from heat and transfer into a large bowl.

  5. *I do this to take off the raw onion and garlic taste. You can skip if you prefer a more pungent flavor.*

  6. Toss in the rest of the ingredients and some more olive oil until well combined.

  7. Keep chilled in the fridge until ready to use.

  8. Prepare the chicken.

  9. Add cumin, peppercorns and chilies in a skillet.

  10. Turn the heat up to medium and toast until aromatic.

  11. Transfer into a spice grinder and blitz until powder forms.

  12. Transfer chicken thigh into a large bowl.

  13. Add in the spice blend and the rest of the ingredients.

  14. Mix until the chicken is well coated with the rub.

  15. Cover with cling film and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hrs.

  16. Transfer rice into a large bowl.

  17. Wash and drain the rice until the water is clear, about 5 times.

  18. Submerge the rice with water and set aside for 1 hr.

  19. After the chicken has marinated, prepare the pilaf.

  20. In a skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil.

  21. Once the oil is heated up, add in the chicken.

  22. Sear until the bottom is browned.

  23. Flip and continue cooking for 2 to 3 mins.

  24. Remove from heat, leaving the oil in the skillet, and transfer onto a plate. Set aside.

  25. In the same skillet over medium-high, add the onion.

  26. Season with salt and sugar.

  27. Deglaze and saute until the onion is caramelized.

  28. Add in the garlic and saute until aromatic.

  29. Add in carrots and chicken with its juice. Saute until well combined.

  30. *If your carrots come along with their stems and leaves, save these for presentation. This is optional.*

  31. Add in 354g of chicken stock.

  32. Deglaze and stir to combine well.

  33. Turn the heat down to low and bring it up to a simmer.

  34. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 mins or until the liquid has reduced to 1/2.

  35. *If you are using lamb or beef, cook it longer until the meat is tender.*

  36. *Stir occasionally to prevent burning.*

  37. Add in the remaining 118g of chicken stock.

  38. Stir to combine well.

  39. Drain the rice and transfer it over the top.

  40. *Do not pack the rice as it will sink to the bottom of the skillet and will burn during the cooking process. Rather, slowly coax the rice to the sides with the back of a spatula for an even layer.*

  41. Using a wooden chopstick, poke holes in the rice. This is to allow even cooking.

  42. Still on low heat, cover and cook for 10 mins.

  43. The rice will soak up all the liquid.

  44. Gently, fold the top layer of rice to allow even cooking.

  45. Again, poke holes with a wooden chopstick.

  46. Cover and cook for another 6 mins or until the rice is cooked fully.

  47. *Do not be tempted to add any more liquid as it will cause the rice to be marshy.*

  48. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt. Add in the raisins and give it a final stir.

  49. Remove from heat and serve immediately with the salad.

  50. I used the carrot stem as part of the presentation.

  51. Dig in with your clean hands.

Pro Tip:

  • If you are using lamb or beef, switch out the chicken stock for lamb or beef stock accordingly.

  • You can use any type of long-grain rice, I am using Jasmine.

These are the beautiful carrots that I'd used.


Recipe Video:

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