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Chicken pilaf with pistachios & lemon

 In Chicken, Dinner/Supper, Lunch

Chicken pilaf with pistachios & lemon

For the first time in my life, I find myself exhausted at the end of the year. I don’t know if it’s a sign of getting older (please say no!) or if it’s just because I’ve worked harder this year than I’ve ever worked before but I am physically tired and am struggling to get out of bed every morning. I used to be the type of person who jumped out of bed the moment my alarm went off. I didn’t even know how to ‘snooze’ the alarm. It is now a much-loved button I press every morning for another 15 minutes of shut-eye. Needless to say, I can’t wait for our almost-month-long holiday in December, the only problem is that I have to try to finish the mountain of work ahead of me in a few short weeks. But I shan’t complain, I am very fortunate to be working and I do really love my job.

Chicken pilaf with pistachios & lemon

When dinner time comes around, I really don’t have energy for long, tedious processes (nothing new here, really) and I’d like dinner to kind of take care of itself. Roast chicken is a great example of this as it takes me all of 5 minutes to prep the bird, add some onion, garlic & wine to the roasting tin and allow it to roast to perfection while I relax with a glass of wine bath the kids and check e-mails. I also love that roast chicken makes the best leftovers. If I’m feeding a crowd I always roast a few chickens just to make sure I get lovely shredded chicken for sandwiches the next day but if it’s just the 4 of us eating, I roast a large free-range chicken. There’s always left-overs and I love how quickly it’s transported into a delicious meal. 

Chicken pilaf with pistachios & lemon

This pilaf is fantastic when made with left-over roast chicken (or shop-bought rotisserie chicken) but you can of course also use chicken breasts cubed and fry them off with the onion before adding the rice. I use Basmati rice for my pilaf as it’s low GI, beautifully aromatic and makes for a great, fluffy pilaf. I added pistachios and lemon to the finished pilaf to add even more fragrance and texture and served it with lots of fresh parsley.

Chicken pilaf with pistachios & lemon
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dinner, Entree, Main, Chicken,
Serves: 4
  • 4 handfuls shredded chicken/4 chicken breasts cubed
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2cm fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 cups basmati/jasmine rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 handfuls pistachios, toasted
  • salt to taste
  1. In a large saucepan, fry the onions (and chicken if using raw chicken) until the onion starts to brown. Add the garlic & ginger and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the spices and stir to combine.
  3. Add the rice and stir to coat the rice in the spices.
  4. Add the chicken stock and turn down the heat. Allow to simmer gently for 10-15 minutes until there is only a little bit of stock left in the pot and the rice is almost cooked.
  5. Add the shredded chicken (if using cooked chicken) and turn the heat off and place a lid on the pot. Allow to steam for 15-20 minutes until the rice is cooked.
  6. When the rice is cooked, fluff it with a fork and stir in the lemon zest, juice and pistachios.
  7. Serve with fresh parsley.

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Alida Ryder
Being a general food freak has proven to be quite helpful in this career I've found myself in. Author of two cookbooks, photographer, food stylist. Mom to twins. Ex make-up and hair artist obsessed with beautiful clothes and spaces. I love a good G&T and I've been known to spend too much money on shoes.
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