Pistachio and Chicken Pilaf Recipe

What’s the history of pilaf?

Pilaf (or pilau) is a historic rice-based dish that is believed to originate from Turkey. This Middle Eastern dish in its simplest form is fragrant rice. The key to getting pilaf right is ensuring the plump grains stay separated from each other. The liquid can be either water, or stock, and flavourings include cinnamon and cardamom.

The Iranian version of pilaf differs from the Turkish version in that it has a crispy, golden crust. This bottom of the pan rice is referred to as tahdig. It takes time and practise to get this Persian rice right, and every factor (the pan you use and whether you cook over gas or electric) has an effect on the finished dish. Our version doesn’t produce a tahdig, instead, nuts and pomegranate seeds provide crunch.

Across the world, there are different variations of this dish including Indian pulao.

Why is rice pilaf yellow?

Pilaf rice is typically flavoured with saffron. This is what gives the rice its rich sunshine-yellow hue. Our recipe doesn’t use saffron, however orange zest and dried apricots do add pops of orange.

How have we flavoured our pilaf?

This deliciously fragrant chicken pilaf recipe is scented with rose, cardamom, cinnamon and orange. Serve as a stunning dinner party main course.

  Ingredients for chicken pilaf Serves: 4

  • 250g basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 3cm chunks
  • 25g butter
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 500ml hot chicken stock
  • 100g dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp Sous Chef dried rose petals roughly chopped, plus extra for serving
  • 2 strips orange zest
  • Small pack of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 75g pistachios, chopped
  • 100g pomegranate seeds

Method for chicken pilaf

  1. Soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes. Rinse and drain.
  2. In a medium high-sided frying pan with a lid, heat the oil over a high heat and fry the chicken pieces until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes.
  3. Lift the chicken pieces out onto a plate, lower the heat to medium and add the butter and onion to the frying pan with a pinch of salt and cook for 10 minutes until golden and softened.
  4. Add the cinnamon and cardamom and cook for a further minute then stir through the drained rice, add the stock, apricots, rose petals and orange zest with plenty of seasoning and stir well.
  5. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, cover with a lid and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Then remove from the heat and leave to sit for 10 minutes before fluffing the rice up with a fork. If you’re feeling kind to your guests, you might like to pick out the cardamom pods.
  7. Fold through the parsley and pistachios and scatter with more rose petals and serve.
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024

Shop all Middle Eastern ingredients, and try our Persian fesenjan stew recipe.


  • I always add chestnuts, adds a lot of depth, got the tip from a restaurant in Baku, Azerbaijan

    David on

  • An amazing taste sensation. Never had anything quite like it before and my wife also absolutely loved it. So easy to cook.

    Andy HIll on

  • Good point! We particularly like the extra-concentrated Chicken Glace for its great flavour. When diluted you can use it just like normal stock, but you can use whichever chicken stock you prefer for this recipe. Hope that helps!

    Aisha at Sous Chef on

  • In the shopping list for this recipe it mentions a Chicken Glace but this is not mentioned in the recipe. Can you advise whether this is necessary for the Chicken Pilaf.

    Shirley A Parnell on

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