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  • Writer's pictureTina Brand

Hankering for Chicken Rice

Okay, Isabel- here it is. Reminding you that the recipe is coming from a family tradition of air drying a chook for hours with a bit of brown string on the back verandah.......... Fast forward to cooking with all short cuts available but not compromising on flavour and authenticity. Count yourself lucky to be getting this version and not Nanna's!

So here's the updated, no air-drying-a-chicken version. The flavours and aromas while the stock is simmering are heavenly, but when you start cooking the rice in the stock with the added pandan leaf/ kaffir lime leaf aromatics, watch out! It's mouth watering!

Chicken rice is a dish that takes patience because you've got to start with a fabulous, flavourful stock. If you want to eat chicken rice on the week-end, for instance, make your stock a day prior (you can make it way in advance and freeze it if you like). It is worth the care and attention as the stock is the absolute foundation of an excellent chicken rice! It's not hard at all, just a few more steps to what is a very simple dish.

Also, because of the hearty amount of garlic and ginger used, this is the go-to 'get well' dish.

This recipe will serve six.

To make the stock:

  • 4-5 chicken carcasses from the butcher.

  • 1-2 carrots

  • 1 whole onion, unpeeled

  • 1 whole pod garlic cloves, unpeeled

  • 2-3 celery stalks, leaves included, roughly chopped

  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

  • 1 whole fresh chilli, tip slightly slit

  • 1-2 whole star anise

  • 1-2 cinnamon quills

  • 1 lemon, halved

  • 4-6 pieces well washed coriander roots, bruised with a knife handle

  • 1-2 pieces fresh lemon grass stalks

  • 5-6 litres of tap water


  1. Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot ; the water should cover the chicken bones, depending on the height of your stock pot.

  2. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently and uncovered, for up to 4 hours if possible.

  3. Skim any discoloured froth from off the surface from time to time.

  4. Turn off the heat, cool, and then strain in a colander with small holes.

  5. When completely cooled to room temperature, store in a clean container in the fridge.

For the Chicken Rice:

  • 6 large pieces chicken breast on the bone

  • 4 cups jasmine rice

  • 50 g garlic, peeled and minced

  • 2-3 stalks pandan leaves or if not available

  • 4-6 kaffir lime leaves

  • chicken stock

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil


To cook the chicken

  1. Place the chicken pieces in a heavy based pan and pour over with some chicken stock until the liquid just covers the chicken.

  2. Bring to the boil, and as soon as it bubbles, turn to very low heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. After exactly twenty minutes, turn the heat off, leave the chicken to cool completely in the pan.

  4. When cold, hand shred the chicken into large pieces, toss in 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, cover tight in cling wrap and set aside.

  5. Return the rest of the liquid from the chicken pan to your container of master stock.

To cook the rice

  1. Wash the four cups of rice thoroughly, rinsing out at least three times or until the water runs clear.

  2. It is important to use jasmine rice rather than some other variety, like basmati.

  3. Place in a pot which has a well fitted lid.

  4. Add the minced garlic and stir through.

  5. Measure 51/2 cups of stock into the rice pot, and add 2 teaspoons of salt.

  6. Float in the pandan leaves which have been knotted.

  7. Bring the pan to the boil, and as soon as a good bubble appears, turn down to very low, cover with the lid and leave to simmer for twenty minutes.

  8. After twenty minutes, lift the lid, sprinkle with one tablespoon of sesame oil, and leave covered to stand for at least ten minutes before serving.

To make the sambal

150g peeled ginger, roughly chopped

100 peeled garlic

1 large fresh red chilli, roughly chopped

2 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon sesame oil

Place all of the above into a blender and whizz till a fine sauce is achieved.

To assemble

Take a small bowl and fill it to level with the warm rice. pat it in firmly, then turn out onto a warmed plate so you have a mound of chicken rice.

Arrange some slices of room temperature chicken pieces in one corner, and drizzle some sambal over the chicken.

Heat the remaining stock, season to taste with pepper, salt and/or lime juice. Pour into cups and serve alongside to sip in between mouthfuls or to slosh over your rice.

Garnish with fresh coriander.


Be sure to only use Jasmine rice, and wash thoroughly before cooking.

De-fat your refrigerated stock before use: with a spoon, scoop off the access fat from the top edges of the stock before warming for use.

I love serving chicken rice with thickly sliced lightly pickled cucumbers with black sesame seeds.

On the table:

Bottled chilli sauce like Sriracha, and more of the just made garlicky ginger sauce.

For accompanying veggies, any Chinese leafy green is great.

The accompanying soup is for sipping in-between bites of chicken rice, but also to slosh over your rice if you prefer.

The garlic-ginger sauce can be stored in a tightly sealed jar for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.


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