The Recipe

Pakistani Chicken and Rice

As Savita Nooreen from Gilgit, Pakistan, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine, March 2014

Serves 4-6
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp turmeric
1/2 + 1/2 tsp salt (preferably Himalayan!)
14 oz. chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp water
2 cups rice
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp green cardamom powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1" ginger root, peeled and chopped, then mashed in a mortar and pestle
1/4 + 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, rough chopped

In  large, deep saute pan on medium heat, fry onions and garlic in 2 Tbsp oil until soft. Mix in chicken, chili powder, turmeric, and 1/2 tsp salt. When chicken is cooked on the outside, add chopped tomatoes and 1 Tbsp water and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes.

While that is cooking, cook rice. (Bring rice and 4 cups water to a boil. Add 1 tsp salt. Once boiling, turn heat to simmer and cover. Turn off heat after 20 minutes.)

After chicken has cooked for 15 minutes, remove lid. Let juices evaporate for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Mix in butter, cardamom, cumin, ginger and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Add remaining 1/4 cup cilantro. Serve rice and chicken with raita, and roti if you like.

Here are roti and raita recipes I've learned from other cooking teachers from nearby northern India.


4 cups chapati or roti flour (it is super finely ground durham semolina wheat)
some water
3 Tbsp olive oil

Put flour in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil. Add water a little bit at a time, mixing, squeezing, then kneading with hands until all dry flour disappears and you have a smooth dough and a clean bowl, about 5 minutes by hand. Add another 1 1/2 Tbsp oil, knead to incorporate, and let rest for an hour.

Break off a piece (about the diameter of a quarter). Squeeze the piece in between the palms of your hand. Do this four or five times, turning your hands so they get a slightly different angle on the dough in your palms. When you have what looks like a smooth flat river stone, then use a rolling pin and roll it out on a counter into a a circle, about 1/8th inch thick. (Indians use a special round board (ahdni) and rolling stick (vhelan) to roll out the roti. These can be found at Indian markets. You can also use a rolling pin on a smooth counter.

Place raw roti in a hot dry pan, about 1 minute each side. Then use tongs to hold it directly over the gas flame. If the stars align (your roti is thin enough, and a perfectly round circle) roti will likely puff up like a pufferfish. Flip so other side gets a little spots of toasted tan color. Repeat process to make many roti out of all the dough.

Yogurt Sauce (raita)

1 small handful cilantro, chopped
2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 green hot chili pepper, sliced into thin circles (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl.

Copyright Lindsay Sterling 2014