Kheema Pulao is a flavor-packed gluten-free meal with fragrant long grain basmati rice cooked with ground chicken and aromatic-warm whole spices like black pepper, cumin seeds, and cinnamon. A perfect one pot meal for a weeknight supper paired with a cooling raita or yogurt that is ready in just 40 minutes. Feel free to substitute ground chicken, beef, or turkey to suit your family’s taste buds.
Note: Original post published in Aug 2018 has been updated with new photos and a video.
What is Kheema?
Kheema / Keema / Queema is an Urdu word for minced meat such as chicken, lamb, beef, etc. As ground meat cooks fairly quickly, different meats can be easily substituted in this Kheema Pulao or in other recipes that call for Kheema.
Difference between Biryani and Pulao
Here are 2 basic differences between Biryani and Pulao (Pilaf)
- Biryani is made with marinated chicken that is layered with basmati rice. While Pulao does not require any marination and is cooked by mixing rice and veggies/meat together.
- Biryani uses whole as well as ground spices and is a lot more spicer than pulao. Pulao is a lighter variation using only a few whole spices.
Ingredients for Kheema Pulao
- White Rice - Iong-grain Basmati rice works best
- Whole Spices - cumin seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon & bay leaves
- Ground Spices - Kashmiri red chili powder & turmeric
- Fresh ginger & garlic paste
- Yellow onion
- Ripe tomato
- Mint & Cilantro
How to make Kheema Pulao
- Heat ghee or oil in the Instant Pot and sauté the spices and onions. Add chicken and mix well (photos 1 - 4).
- Addmint, turmeric, red chili powder, salt, and tomatoes. Add rice, and water and mix well making sure that all the rice is under the liquids (photos 5 - 8).
- Close the Instant Pot lid and pressure cook for 5 minutes followed by 5 minutes natural pressure release. Garnish with cilantro and more freshly ground pepper. Note: if the rice looks uncooked on the top, just mix it with the rice under and close the Instant Pot for 5 minutes.
- Gently fluff the rice with a silicone spatula
Enjoy hot with a squeeze of fresh lime. I also like to serve it with cucumber salad or creamy beet and cucumber raita.
Storing Kheema Pulao
Any leftovers can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days or frozen for longer shelf life. To reheat simply microve until heated through. Kheema Pulao is a great make ahead dish.
More Rice Recipes
Did you enjoy this one-pot meal? Check out all the Biryani Recipes and some more weeknight favorites:
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 1 teaspoon shah jeera or cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 inch cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium yellow onion thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon garlic paste
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 tomato diced
- 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- handful of mint leaves chopped
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cups long grain basmati rice rinsed and drained
- 1½ cups water
- 1 lime
- ½ cup cilantro chopped
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper freshly ground
- Set the Instant Pot to sauté mode and heat ghee. Add cumin seeds, black peppercorn, cinnamon and bay leaves. Saute for 30 seconds.
- Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until the onions start to brown. Cover with a non-locking glass lid to speed up the process.
- Add ginger, garlic and chicken. Sauté, breaking the chicken and browning it for a minute. Add tomatoes, red chili powder, turmeric, mint leaves and salt. Mix well.
- Add rice and water. Gently mix making sure all the rice is under the liquids. Close the Instant Pot lid with pressure valve to sealing. Pressure cook (Hi) for 5 minutes with a 5 minute natural pressure release.
- Open the Instant Pot and gently fluff the top rice (Note, if the rice looks uncooked on the top, just mix it with the rice under and close the Instant Pot for 5 minutes)
- Add lime juice, cilantro and black pepper. Turn the Instant Pot off and take the insert out so the rice does not overcook or get mushy. Enjoy hot.
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Martha Sandidge says
So tasty and easy. I tend to use a can of organic chopped tomatoes from Costco, and only use 1 cup of water. I did a QPR when cook time was up, and it was still delish! Thanks, Archana, for this user friendly recipe.
Thank you for your lovely feedback. I often make this for weeknight meals.
Just adding to previous review: I vary this recipe all over the place, recently adding carrot and curry leaves, and cod fillet that is cooked separately and then steamed along with the rice once pressure cooking is complete. Lots of lemon squeezed on top and a dollop of yogurt on the side. Thanks again for this easy peasy recipe!
YUM! Loving all the variations. Thank you for sharing.
Made this recipe but left out the tomato. Overall flavor was great but tasted like it was missing something. Will make again and experiment, maybe adding some Garam masala.
Thank you for the feedback! Did you make it with fresh ginger and garlic?
Hi Archana, recipe looks delicious!
Must I double the cook time if I double the quantity ?
Same cook time, it will just take longer for the Instant Pot to come to pressure
Did you soak your rice beforehand with this recipe? Or simply rinse?
Just rinse, no need to soak.
Made this for dinner tonight, it’s delicious and using Kashmiri chilli powder gave it just the right kick!
Thank you Jessica! I have a few other ground chicken recipes like the Kheema Pav, Masala Chicken Burgers, etc , I hope you try them.
Made this tonight. It was the ultimate comfort food with some raita during these strange times. I did soak the rice on autopilot so it came out slightly mushy. Next time I will read the recipe more carefully! Thanks for this recipe!
You are most welcome!
Amit C. Govindji says
Awesome recipes! Wondering if I substitute ground lamb will it alter the cook time or anything you would recommend to do different?
Same cook time! Just sauté the lamb for extra couple of minutes in the begining.
Making this a second time right now but doubling the recipe because it was so good the first time.
Can I make this with ground beef and would the cooking time be different?
yes! Same exact cook time.
Is it ok to substitute white rice with brown basmati rice? If so will I need to soak is before hand?
No need to soak. If you do soak for a couple of hours, you can reduce the cook time to 10 min and then NPR
Thank you, that worked great! Just one last question if I were to double the ground chicken keeping the rice the same then will need to also double everything else? i.e spices, ghee, etc.
Add extra half quantities of spices as pulao is not overly spicy.
Thank you very much! Your recipes are so easy to cook, yet so delicious. I have already cooked the brown rice biryani (twice) and pulao (twice) but will now try chicken karahi.
Easy and tasty dish, perfect for a week night! Thank you for this recipe, Archana, your tips were bang on!
Ash Samji says
If I doubled the recipe & used 2 cups of rice, how much water is needed ..3 cups ?
Thx .. super excited to try this one out ☺️
You can add 1 cup of water for the extra 1 cup of rice.
Made this today, it's our first recipe from your site and we loved it! Thinking about trying it with paneer instead of chicken next time just for fun. Thanks for posting such a great recipe, we look forward to trying more from the site!
What vegetable dish would pair well with this?
This pulao is great with raita or try my cabbage salad, its crunchy with a touch tangy flavor.
Thanks, Archana! This was delicious! Tastes like I ordered it from a restaurant:)
Thanks! I would love a 5 star rating 🙂
Meenal Jethi says
Can I use ground chicken breast for this recipe or does it have to be ground chicken thighs?
yes ground chicken breast will work
How would I adjust this recipe if I wanted to add potatoes? I have tried before and I get the burn signal .
Add an extra 1/4 cup of water.
This is soooo good! I love the your vegetable biryani recipe, and the chicken one, but this is totally different and delicious! I liked the addition of ground meat (I used pork). It was very satisfying and easy to make. It will go into my rotation!
Thank you for your lovely feedback
Danita Day says
Made this last night and we really liked it. Subtle spiciness but flavorful. I subbed quick cooking brown basmati rice (Trader joes) with white and used same cook time as recipe. It turned out perfect. Served with Trader Joes Garlic Naan. Quick and easy weeknight meal. With only two of us it made plenty for lunch leftovers for the next day.
Shivani Patel says
The recipe looks delicious. I want to make this with ground turkey. Will the cooking time change?
Same cook time for ground turkey
This is a great recipe! We ate every bite. It was warmly spiced and so easy to make. We will be eating it again soon!
PS Love your Vegetable Biryani recipe!
Thank you so much for your feedback. I can't wait to see how you like the vegetable biryani recipe.
Asma H. says
Made this for my kids today and just like your other recipes, this one was easy, delicious and soooo flavorful.
A few changes I made to accommodate the kiddos: half a tsp of red chili powder instead of one whole. Was perfect with a kick. I didn't have tomatoes so I used 2 heaping tablespoons of diced tomatoes from a can.
Thank you for sharing this easy recipe!!
You are most welcome!