Sylheti Akhni Polao

What is chicken Polao and how is it different from chicken Biriyani? What is Akhni or Yakhni?

Biryani is made using the draining method of cooking, which actually means the rice is first semi-cooked in water, drained, and then used to layer up. The remaining rice is cooked in a sealed pot where the water released from the meat cooks the rice. On the other hand, Pulao is made by the absorption method, in which calculated amount of water or broth is added to the rice and the rice absorbs all the water at the end and the rice also doesnot stick to each other. Yakhni or Akhni as popularly called in Bangladesh, refers to the broth of the meat in which the rice is cooked.

How is Sylheti Akhni different from any other yakhni Polao?

Use of methi (fenugreek) seeds and mouri (fennel) seeds is unique in Sylheti style. Addition of these two seeds brings an eccentric flavor to this akhni polao.

Sylheti Akhni Polao

A Sylheti chicken Polao which often becomes a part of festive meals of Bangladesh
Course Main Course
Cuisine Bangladeshi, Bengali
Keyword polao
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 3


  • 600g of Chicken
  • 3 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • tablespoon of ginger garlic paste
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 5 cloves
  • 6 black pepper
  • ½ inch of cinnamon stick broken into pieces
  • 1 small mace
  • teaspoon of Methi (Fenugreek) seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • ¼ teaspoon of mouri (Fennel) seed powder
  • ½ teaspoon of cumin powder
  • teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of yogurt/curd
  • 4-5 green chilli

For the rice

  • 2 cups of Basmati rice
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • ¼ teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
  • ½ tablespoon of ginger garlic paste
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick broken into pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cloves
  • 6 black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 4-5 green Chilies
  • 1 teaspoon of Kewra Water
  • 1 teaspoon of rose water


Cooking the meat

  • Dry roast the cardamom pods, cloves, bay leaves, fenugreek seeds, black pepper and grind them to a fine powder. Strain the masla powder to remove the bigger chunks and keep them aside.
  • In a kadai, take the oil and ghee and heat it. Temper the hot oil with the bay leaves.
  • As the oil turns aromatic, add the ginger and garlic paste to the kadai and lightly saute them for 15 seconds.
  • Add the sliced onions to the kadai. saute the onions till they turn soft and are lightly brownish in color.
  • Add the chicken pieces to the kadai and saute them along with the onion.
  • Add ¾ tablespoon of the ground spices, nutmeg powder and fennel seed powder followed by the yogurt and green chilies to the kadai.
  • Continue cooking the chicken on medium flame till the chicken is almost done and you see oil leaving the sides of the pan.
  • The chicken is ready. We will keep it aside and move towards preparing the rice.

Preparing the rice

  • Wash the rice at least thrice. Let the rice soak in water for 30 minutes. Strain the water and let the rice air dry for 30 minutes
  • In a pot, add 1 tablespoon of ghee and heat it. Temper the ghee with cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cardamom pods, cloves and black pepper.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste to the kadai and saute them for 15 seconds.
  • Add the sliced onions to the pot and fry them till they tutn golden brown in colour.
  • Add the rice to the pot and saute them on medium flame till the rice changes its colour.
  • Lower the flame and add the prepared chicken to the pot along with the spices.
  • Add 4 cups of water to the pot. Stir all the ingredients in the kadai and cook the polao covered on medium flame.
  • As all the water is evaporated and the rice is cooked completely, turn off the flame. Add the rose water and kewra water to the polao. Gently fold all the ingredients of the pot. Keep the pot covered till ready to serve.

Thank you for stopping by. If you like the recipe do not forget to hit like. If you prepare this dish and publish your photos on Facebook and Instagram do tag #theepicureanfeast. Also for queries, you can mail me

1 thought on “Sylheti Akhni Polao”

Leave a Reply