This dish is Thailand’s answer to biryani. The local name is khao mok gai,  meaning rice with chicken. It’s very popular among the Muslim–Thai population and has Indian and Persian influences. The rice is cooked along with the chicken and spices to produce a beautifully aromatic one-pot dish.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (33 votes)


  • chicken leg quarters
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Malaysian curry powder
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 125 g (4 oz/½ cup) Greek-style yoghurt
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, halved and very thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400 g (14 oz/2 cups) jasmine rice, rinsed
  • 375 ml (12½ fl oz/1½ cups) boiling water
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) coconut milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed


Fried shallots

  • 110 g (1 cup) thinly sliced red Asian shallots
  • 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable oil



  • 80 ml (2½ fl oz/⅓ cup) clear rice vinegar
  • 1½ tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 medium green chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), trimmed and very finely chopped
  • 1½ tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • large handful of coriander (cilantro), finely chopped


To serve

  • fried shallots (recipe above)
  • sliced cucumber and tomato (optional)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 4 hours or overnight

Using a large, sharp knife, cut through the middle joint of each chicken leg quarter to separate the thigh from the drumstick. Trim the excess backbone from the thighs and cut each thigh in half through the middle thigh bone.

Combine the pepper, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli powder in a bowl. Transfer half this mixture and the yoghurt to a large bowl, reserving the remaining spice mixture. Add the chicken to the bowl and, using your hands, rub the mixture all over the chicken. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Wipe any excess marinade off the chicken and discard the marinade. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Heat half the vegetable oil in a large ovenproof casserole over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning often, for 6 minutes or until deep golden.

Transfer to a plate. Add the remaining oil to the casserole, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes or until starting to soften. Add the reserved spice mixture and cook, stirring, for another minute or until fragrant. Add the rice and stir to coat well. Add the boiling water, coconut milk, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Put the chicken on top of the rice, cover the casserole with a tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender.

Meanwhile to make the fried shallots, put the shallot slices in a single layer on a clean tea towel and stand for 30 minutes to dry out a little. Heat the oil in a wok or heavy-based frying pan until the temperature reaches 170ºC or a cube of bread turns golden in 20 seconds. Cook the shallot slices in the oil, stirring often so they cook evenly, for about 12 minutes or until deep golden. Take care near the end of cooking as they can easily burn.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to a sieve to drain any excess oil. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb as much remaining oil as possible. Cool, then transfer to an airtight container until using. (See Note)

To make the sauce, combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt with 1½ tablespoons water and stir to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Serve the chicken and rice with the fried shallots and sliced cucumber and tomato, if using, and the sauce on the side.



• Fried shallots will keep, at room temperature in an airtight container, for 1 week.


Recipe and image from East: Culinary Adventures in Southeast Asia by Leanne Kitchen and Antony Suvalko (Hardie Grant, $39.95, hbk).  View our Readable Feasts review and more recipes from the book here.