Lemon – Ginger Rice Pilaf With Green Chicken Balls – Served With Tempered Raita (Yogurt)




This is a very easy but flavorful basmati rice pilaf that I created last week. Or lemma brag that it is my own recipe. no reference or cookbooks. Long grain, aromatic basmati rice is cooked in a lemon & ginger flavored broth with hints of aromatic indian spices. I wanted the pilaf to look “summery”, so I chose to avoid reddish look from red chilies powder or yellowish look from haldi (turmeric). The chicken balls are green & succulent with lots of cilantro, mint, and garlic and loaded with the magical garam masala. The flavors are subtle but classic – citrusy, soul warming & comforting. All in all best served as a side along with tempered raita (yogurt) or any curry /dalor eat on its own as a light summer meal.





Ingredients: – Serves 4

For the Chicken balls: [Makes 20-25 balls of the size shown]

  • 1lb ground chicken (donâ€t use ground chicken breast, use a mince which has good ratio of dark meat & fat, also take care that the mince is not too fine if you are getting it from the butcher]
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1.5 cups finely chopped, fresh cilantro, stems & leaves (substitute with parsley)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint, leaves only
  • 4-5 Thai green chilies, finely chopped (Adjust to taste, with this quantity, balls will be on the spicy side)
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala 
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Oil for rubbing on palms

Notes: –

  1. You can use the same recipe to make curry with the chicken balls. Just mix in some minced ginger with the chicken in that case.
  2. For a vegetarian version, you can add dal wadi (lentil drops), soya chunks, paneer cubes, any kind of beans or an assorted vegetables (slightly steamed) of choice. Drop the step where we cook the chicken balls in the method below and proceed.

For the Pilaf: –

  • 1.5 cups Basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup mustard/canola/olive/vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sliced onions (use any variety you like, donâ€t use sweet onions)
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated (can be avoided)
  • 4 Thai green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • One 2″ cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 7-8 cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods (hari elaichi)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 6 tbsp fresh lemon juice (adjust to taste)
  • 2.5 cups water /stock (Depends on rice variety, adjust as per package instructions)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • Cilantro, Lemon wedges etc for garnish

Method: –

Pick the rice and wash under 2-3 streams of water.Let soak for 30 minutes. In a cheesecloth/muslin, wrap tightly the black peppercorns, cloves, coriander seeds, and cardamom pods. In a bowl, add all the ingredients under the heading “For the Chicken Balls”. Mix gently with hands to combine well. Do not apply too much pressure while mixing else the mix will become sticky. Once mixed, apply some oil on your hands and make balls of the size you wish. Dont make too big balls, coz after cooking, these swell up. Line the balls on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

While the chicken balls are refrigerating, to a heavy bottomed pot with lid, add the oil and heat on high high. If using mustard oil, heat the oil to smoking point to do away the raw smell. Reduce heat to medium and add the sliced onions to the pot and sauté them till they turn light brown. At this point add the slit green chilies, grated garlic (if using) & ginger, bay leaf, cumin and cinnamon stick to the pot and sauté for 30 secs. Next add 2.5 cups of water/stock to the pot. Tip in the cheesecloth wrapped spices into the water, add 1 tsp salt and let the water come to a boil.About 8 minutes.

Once boiling, add the refrigerated chicken balls to the pot. Start by adding a single ball, if it does not spread, add all of them one by one in a single layer. If balls are spreading, mash them down & add a binding agent like cornstarch or egg. Let the balls cook for 5-8 minutes in boiling water till they are 95%  (almost) cooked. Do not overcook else they will become rock hard. Strain the balls out of the pot in a plate and set aside.(This cooking time will depend on size of your balls)

Measure out the stock in the pot to whatever quantity is required to cook your variety of rice.The basmati variety I use takes 2 cups stock to 1 cup of rice to cook. Return the measured stock to the pot. Add the soaked, drained rice to the pot along with ground nutmeg & lemon juice. Check the seasoning again and adjust if required.

Cover the pot & bring the stock to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, and let cook for 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat, open the lid, and add the chicken balls & melted butter gently mix with a wooden spoon & leave to steam on the stove for another 5-8 minutes.Pick out the spices wrapped in cheesecloth & discard. Garnish the rice with chopped cilantro & lime wedges. Serve with tempered raita.

To make Tempered Raita: – Beat 1 cup of cold, plain Greek yogurt in a bowl. To this add any thing you like from tomatoes, boiled potatoes, grated cucumbers chopped onion, boondi etc as long it pairs with yogurt.I am not giving any quantity here coz there are no measurements as such. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.To temper, just before serving to a small saucepan, add 1 tbsp of oil and let it heat on high. Once heated, add 1 tsp each of cumin seeds & black mustard and let crackle. You can add some chopped green chilies too. Once crackling, remove from heat and let cool off for 2-3 minutes. Add salt to yogurt along with tempering and mix well. Serve.

51 thoughts on “Lemon – Ginger Rice Pilaf With Green Chicken Balls – Served With Tempered Raita (Yogurt)

  1. I could relate so many things with you in this post.. that discussion with mom about why does women spend so many hours in kitchen, and how food is the THE topic all the time. Just like your husband , my husband too doesn’t like talking about food and again just like your husband, my dad needs nice every day. Tough for him to skip that 🙂
    This dish looks lovely and and the loving the combination of ginger with lemon.

  2. Tanvi,
    Loved loved loved how you’ve interwoven so many memories about food that I think most Indians can relate. I agree that thought about how much time women spends in the kitchen. That’s a discussion for another day 😀

  3. I love being a part of a family where love and food and family are all intertwined. It makes every moment special! GREAT recipes!

  4. My husband sulks when I ask him to accompany me for grocery shopping. I think it is the husband’s thing. Loved reading your post Tanvi and I do feel bad that women in India are forced to spend more time in kitchen.
    You should brag about this dish, it looks very inviting. Burp….

  5. O, that looks delicious. I like its got all of those Indian spices, but no haldi, so its not yellow…and that keeps it looking and feeling so light and nice for summer and hot weather.

  6. Okay I might have to credit M here for a change, he’s often okay with grocery shopping with me and he says – he thinks I’m happiest when I’m doing that.While, he’s right 😛 I made something on similar lines last week but used chicken tikka with green chutney marinate and mixed with some tomato rice. I know sounds weird but it was awesome! And so is this I’m sure. I love such meals!

  7. What a refreshing Indian dish- no hint of reds!! I LIKE! And I totally understand when someone asks what you want for your next meal when you have just finished the present meal- makes me sick!!!

  8. I love pilaf, and the chicken balls are so intriguing with all of my favorite spices. What a nice light dish for the warm weather!

  9. Looks really delicious and I’m sure its so flavoursome with all those Indian spices! Great pics as usual!

  10. Your pilaf looks delicious, such a great combination of spices!
    It interesting to discover similarities across countries, having Italian and French origins, very oriented to food (One of the favorite topic of discussion for lunch being what was going to be served for dinner, and at dinner what was going to be prepared to the following day’s lunch …, )it was easy for me to blend into my Bengali In-laws!

  11. Purabi Naha @ Cosmopolitan Currymania – Mumbai, India – Mumbai-based Food Blogger. Fusion cooking with Asian ingredients is something I am really passionate about. Blog: www.cosmopolitancurrymania.com
    purabinaha on said:

    My husband loves grocery shopping, but to a certain extent. Like your P, he also loves rice!!
    Hey, lovely clicks and great pilaf! Your chicken balls look perfect. Can I pick up a few and pop them in my mouth?

  12. My husband LOVES food! We are also always planning what we are going to be cooking for the next meal! lol… I have big meals while my daughter and my husband have small amounts of food many times a day. All put together we are cooking and eating all the time! While I enjoy cooking every single day, I like my recipes to be easy and quick.
    That is a very summery looking pilaf!

  13. I was already adoring the look of this recipe, then you said the magic words garam masala 🙂 i have a slight obsession with the stuff i think! This looks like a great and really unique recipe, i hope to give it a shot sometime 🙂

  14. My life pretty much revolves around food, so I would say my family is kind of like yours! It’s funny that the hubs isn’t as into food…but probably kind of nice so that you don’t have to continually try to impress him in the kitchen. This meal is QUITE impressive, though. Delicious!

  15. Excellent summer rice! Great job on your recipe:) Your husband is missing out a lot on the food discussion front, though! But at least he gets to eat your beautiful dishes!

  16. Oh, Tanvi… such a great recipe and beautiful photos. I love the story, too – I can relate on so many levels! My Arab family is so similar in our total intertwinement with eachother + food. It transcends crazy. We eat lots of basmati in this house. Fantastic idea to simmer it in ginger and lemon broth.

  17. I was reading this on my iPhone before mommy duties called. Your photos always make me hungry! I love how Indian cuisine has so many rice dishes and I like each and every one so far! 😉

    Now let’s share this dish to the world by way of Twitter!

  18. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles – San Francisco Bay Area – Kelly Mulcair is an evidence based holistic nutritionist living in Northern California
    Kelly on said:

    Tanvi, this is a gorgeous summer pilaf – I love how you chose to direct it towards the seasonal greens using a wonderful combination of herbs and spices. Thank you for your thoughtful post and musings about our love affair – or not – with food. You’re quite right, it’s so much bigger than simply the food we put in our mouths – an intricate web of social, cultural and emotional life. Thanks for this!

  19. Tanvi, thanks for sharing a part of your personal life. I did enjoy the stories – some similar some different…but my very good Indian friend always talk how much Indian talk about food and love cooking and food! It’s a great culture surrounded by food. All of my Indian food bloggers are great cook and it’s so much fun to learn from all these great cooks. We’re so blessed to have them on blogosphere. Your lemon and ginger basmati rice looks wonderful!

  20. Faith (An Edible Mosaic) – I’m Faith and I blog at www.AnEdibleMosaic.com where I share my recipe collection of international favorites and updated American classics, with an emphasis on seasonal dishes. I focus on real foods that sustain body and mind, bring people together, and make a house a home. Come check out my mosaic of recipes.
    Faith on said:

    Tanvi, this is a feasrt I’d be happy to attened. Everything looks yummy. I know my hubby wouldn’t mind coming to this one either. Great pictures as usual.

    I hope you have a wonderful week ahead.

  21. This rice pilaf looks delicious with all the spices in it and the chicken balls. Love rice dishes!
    Awesome pictures as well.
    Hope you have a great week ahead Tanvi 🙂

  22. Anna Johnston – Canberra – “I am a Fun Loving, Adventure Seeking, Enthusiastic, Super Positive Aussie Gal & creator of The Hospitality Guru! I’m a Chef, a Teacher, Trainer, Functions, Wedding & Event Architect; General Manager & all round Nice Girl who loves nothing more than great food paired with wonderful wines & beers.”
    Anna Johnston on said:

    Looks great, and I like the mentality around food, eating and serving others. I think I was born with gene, it’s just a way of life. Thanks for sharing your story with us, your remarkable. 🙂

  23. Angie@Angie's Recipes – Angie's Recipes is an interactive blog dedicated to sharing yummy & creative recipes, helpful cooking hints and tips. Enjoy your visit and spread the word!
    Angie@Angiesrecipes on said:

    What a gourmet looking rice! Having rice in the middle of the night? wow…that’s something.

  24. Anita Menon – Mimi's Mama | Business Consultant | Food Blogger | Movie Reviewer | Writer | Co-author of 'My Beautiful Bahrain' | Aspiring Fashionista
    Anita Menon on said:

    Beautiful Pilaf and fantastic flavours. Wonder I can tweak it to make it vegetarian somehow. Let me know if you have any ideas.

  25. Hey Anita, I have mentioned few of the vegetarian options I could think of in the recipe.Did you check them?

  26. Hi Tanvi – Iâ€m very glad to have found your beautiful space through your recipe on Season with Spice. The others have said everything I wanted to say, but I wanted to let you know how much Iâ€ve enjoyed your story and the inspiring recipe.
    Itâ€s funny to learn how similar our cultures are in many aspects. Malaysia is truly privilege to have an immense influence from Indian culture when comes to food.
    PS: Iâ€m married to an American who happens to fall in love with rice, especially rice with curry dishes:) So I’m really thankful that I don’t have to compromise my Asian spicy food diet.

    Keep your great posts coming!

  27. Hello Tanvi, I stumbled upon your blog while reading Trish’s posts. Glad that I found your blog. You have a such a lovely space and I am sure I will come back for more.

  28. hi, i as looking for rice recipes to include in my ezine. i came across this recipe. i hope you don’t mind – i’m including this, but traffic goes here though.

  29. I am so glad I found your blog through Simply Breakfast where there was a link to Sinfully Spicy.
    I am so taken with your beautiful pictures of Indian food and recipes to old forgotten favourites.
    I made triangle parathas and chole from here this afternoon. It was the best ever 🙂

  30. Its so true that food holds such an important place in everyone life, whether we see it or not. But at the end of the day food is about family, celebration and bringing hearts together. I can relate to almost every word so said in this post.
    Wonderful recipe and beautiful pics, Great job Tanvi.

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