Chicken Pulao (Pilaf) with Quinoa


IMG_9671I often find is surprising when I find grains such as millet, wheat berries, amaranth and bulgur referred to as ancient grains, whole grains I like, ancient grains I am not so sure about. These grains tend to be a core part of the Indian kitchen and are used in everyday cooking both traditional and modern. Having said this, there are grains from other cultures that tend to find their way into the Indian table, and quinoa is one of them.

Indian farmers are now growing and harvesting quinoa, and given its mild and flavorful temperament, it does not surprise me that quinoa fits in well with Indian flavors. I tend to use quinoa a lot, mostly because my kids love it. Sorry, home food critiques rule and it is very nutritious and pairs well with most things to boost their nutritional profile. Take for example this chicken stew or curry that I had cooked up a while back.


Today, I decided to take quinoa out of its boring “superfood” image and give it a very festive take. I subbed it for rice in an Indian pulao, it was all dressed up with nuts, raisins and cranberries and well perfumed with cinnamon and cardamoms and was ready for a party. In this recipe, I actually use leftover chicken that I had from this roast chicken recipe that I had made earlier during the week.

Chicken Pulao (Pilaf) with Quinoa

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

This colorful and easy quinoa chicken pilaf is a favorite in our house, give it a try and you will like it too!


  • 1/2 cup white quinoa
  • 1/2 cup red quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 pods of cardamom
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 potatoes (I used purple ones), cubed
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 11/2 cups of cooked chicken
  • 1/3 cup chopped grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Chopped cilantro to garnish


  1. In a large pot bring about 4 cups of water to a boil and add in the white and red quinoa and cook for 15 minutes and drain thoroughly. The quinoa should be fairly hard as it completes it cooking later in the dish.
  2. Heat the oil and add in the cardamoms and cinnamon and let it cook a little for 30 seconds. Add in the red onion and cook the onion until soft and turning pale golden.Stir in the potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the quinoa, chicken stock, salt, cayenne pepper and chicken. Cover and cook on low for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Add in the grape tomatoes, almonds and cranberries and cook for 2 more minutes.
  5. Add in the chopped cilantro and serve hot.


About Author

Rinku Bhattacharya, the Spices & Seasons blogger, loves meshing seasonal produce with fresh spices. Most of her recipes are inspired by her Indian heritage, and her cooking is practical, easy and well suited for a busy lifestyle on the go. As a mother with two young children, her recipes are also usually balanced and kid-friendly. Rinku is the author of the blog, Spice Chronicles (formerly,Cooking in Westchester), where she shares her life experiences and original recipes. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years. Rinku is the author of two cookbooks: The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles an award winning (Gourmand 2013) cookbook that highlights culture, memories and recipes from her childhood transformed where needed for her Lohud kitchen and Spices and Seasons that marries Indian flavors with local and seasonal produce. Rinku can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and is also a contributor for Zester Daily.


  1. This looks delicious Rinku! I don’t have any cooked chicken in the fridge but actually have a piece of tofu. I am thinking I will swap out and see how that works!

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