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Recipe: Kofta Pulao a-la-Instant Pot (Indian chicken meatballs + rice pilaf)

Photo credit: Rinku Bhattacharya

If you don't know, now you know: Indian cuisine slides in second after Mexican as my favorite.  And it wasn't until I purchased my Instant Pot AND came across the cookbook, Instant Indian, that I dipped my toe in to cooking Indian food at home.  While I've got Mexican recipes down pat, whipping together a homemade biryani or lamb curry has always just seemed...super intimidating.  

Upon skimming through the recipes in Instant Indian, the Kofta Pulao (which loosely translates to 'chicken meatballs and rice pilaf') really caught my attention: Its method read with ease - the ingredient list wasn't too long or overwhelming - and the dish just sounded incredibly flavorful, hearty and delicious.  An entree that I could plate alongside a colorful salad and enjoy with a crisp glass of white wine (or three).  

Since my initial attempt, I have made this recipe time and time again, though have amended the original/author's version my own twists (such as cutting down the amount of fat, and subbing water with chicken broth for more flavor).  It is a huge crowd pleaser and even receives high praise from my Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi cronies!




  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger (original recipe calls for freshly-ground, but I used the stuff in the jar)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (seeds and pith removed)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


  • 2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil (separated, 1 tablespoon each)
  • 1 sweet white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 1 cup basmati rice, washed (<--- soak dry rice in cold water for 30 minutes and drain)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken broth 


1 day prior to eating: Make the meatballs

  1. To make the meatballs: Place the ground chicken, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, jalapeno and salt  in a bowl and mix together.  Add in the lemon juice, beaten egg and cornstarch.  Blend together.  On a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, form mixture in to 1" meatballs (mixture makes about 18 meatballs).  Store in fridge until you are ready to make the entire recipe the next day.


  1. Turn the IP (Instant Pot) to the Sauté mode and add 1 tablespoon of the oil.  When the oil warms, add in the onion and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Sauté for approximately 8 minutes, until the onion softens, wilts and turns pale golden.  When done, remove from IP and set aside in a separate bowl.
  2. Add the other tablespoon of oil in to the IP.  Working in batches, gently add in the meatballs and let them cook for 2 minutes per side taking care not to stir them.  When all meatballs have been cooked, deglaze the IP with 2 tablespoons of chicken broth.
  3. Return the meatballs to the IP, lining the bottom of the pot.  
  4. Return the onions to the IP atop the meatballs.  Add in the rice, mint, cinnamon stick and bay leaves with 1 1/4 cups chicken broth.  
  5. Close the lid and turn on the Rice setting (it automatically will set for 14 minutes).  When cooking time is complete, allow natural pressure to release for 8 minutes, then use quick release for any residual pressure.  
  6. Open the lid and savor!

*This recipe freezes well, too!


Until we eat again

The Lunch Belle

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