"This is my take on the chicken pilaf we’d buy from street vendors on our way home after nights out. It was the best part of going for a drink." – Ella Mittas.

Serves 6

To poach the chicken:
3 chicken marylands
6 cups water
table salt

For the pilaf:
1⁄4 cup slivered almonds
4 tbsp butter
3 cups aged basmati rice
1 brown onion, diced
2 tsp cinnamon
5 cups chicken stock, from the poaching
2 tbsp lemon juice
1⁄4 cup parsley, chopped
flake salt to taste

  1. Start by placing the chicken marylands in a pot and cover them with water. You want to use around 6 cups, so choose a pot that will allow them to be submerged with that volume of liquid.
  2. Salt the water with 2 tablespoons of table salt, bring up to a boil, then turn down to a soft simmer.
  3. Cook until just past pink, around 25–30 minutes, then take off the heat, leaving the chicken to continue cooking in the hot liquid.
  4. Once the stock is cooled, put to one side and shred the chicken.
  5. Fry off the almonds in 1 tablespoon of the butter over low heat until golden. Then drain on a paper towel to get rid of excess butter. Leave to one side.
  6. Soak rice in cold water for 20 minutes, then drain well.
  7. Put a large frying pan on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon butter. Once it’s melted, add the onion, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions are caramelised: 15–20 minutes.
  8. Add the drained rice and fry off until well coated in butter. While you’re doing this, bring the stock up to the boil in another pot.
  9. Slowly add 3 cups of stock to the rice, bringing the liquid up to a soft simmer. Cover with a lid and cook until the stock is absorbed, checking every couple of minutes.
  10. Add remaining stock in increments, checking rice as you go.
  11. Once the rice is cooked through (this will take 15–20 minutes), take off the heat and leave to steam for 5 minutes, with the lid on.
  12. Stir through shredded chicken, the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, lemon juice and chopped parsley, and check for seasoning.
  13. Serve immediately, garnished with almonds.

Ela! Ela! (RRP $39.95) is out now through Murdoch Books and available to purchase at great Victorian bookstores like Readings and Paperback Bookshop.