Chicken Orzo Pilaf

This image courtesy of Rinku Bhattacharya

This recipe is a very flavorful skillet dish made with orzo instead of rice. Adding in a finish of mint and pine nuts gives it a rather Middle Eastern touch. This dish can be very easily made with brown or white rice, depending on your preference of grain.


Preparation Time10 min

Preparation Time - Text10 minutes plus at least 2 hours marinating time

Cooking Time45 min

Cooking Time - Text45

Cooking MethodSauteeing


Total Timeunder 4 hours

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe CourseMain Course

Dietary ConsiderationSoy Free



Taste and TextureMeaty, Savory, Spiced


  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 2 tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 green chilies
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken (I use thighs)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 (2-inch) cinnamon sticks, broken into smaller pieces
  • 2 or 3 green cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 2½ cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 tablespoon oil or butter
  • 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint


  1. To marinate the chicken: Place the yogurt, tomatoes, cilantro, ginger, garlic, and green chilies in a blender and puree. Place the chicken in a bowl and toss with the marinade to coat. Set aside for at least 2 hours.

  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and turn a golden shade of brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and cloves.

  3. Add the chicken with marinade and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 7 minutes, until the mixture is somewhat dry.

  4. Stir in the orzo and broth and bring to a simmer and cook for about 6 minutes.

  5. Stir in the saffron and turn off the heat. Cover and let this rest for 20 minutes (by now the mixture should be soft and pale brown).

  6. For the finish: Heat the oil and stir in the almonds and pine nuts and cook until pale golden. Stir in the mint. Add to the pilaf and serve immediately.


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