Wash the rice with cold water and soak it for 25 minutes. Drain and keep it aside.
Heat ghee or oil in a large deep thick bottom pan on high heat, then temper the oil with cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves, peppercorns and bay leaves and sauté for few seconds until you get a nice aroma of the spices.
Then add the thinly sliced onions and fry until light gold brown in colour.
Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry till the raw smell disappears.
Toss in the chicken pieces and fry on medium-high heat tossing constantly till the chicken pieces loses its raw color and is light brown on all sides.
Add chopped tomato and chopped chillies. Sauté for few minutes.
Then add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and salt and mix everything well and cook on medium heat for 7-8 minutes. The tomatoes will become all soft and mushy and masala will slowly start to release oil.
Now add the yogurt, the pulao masala and the garam masala and mix well. stirring frequently.
Cook for further 6-7 mins on medium high heat until you see oil separating from the sides and the chicken is almost 80% cooked. Toss in the green peas (if using), the raisins and cashew nuts. Check the seasoning. Add half tsp sugar and salt as per taste. Mix it well.
Now add the basmati rice to the chicken masala and give a nice stir so that the rice grains are coated with the tasty chicken masala.
Pour 4 cups hot water to the rice chicken mixture and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and cover and cook for 20- 25 minutes.
Check if the rice is cooked. Remove from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.