Persian chicken pilaf

Persian chicken pilaf
  • Serves icon Serves 4
  • Time icon Hands-on time 25 min, simmering time 50 min, plus soaking

The key to a perfect Persian pilaf is cooking the rice until it’s lightly spiced and fluffy then adding fresh herbs, pomegranate, raisins and chicken. Don’t forget to serve everyone some of the crust on the bottom – that’s the best bit!

Nutrition: per serving

Calories
618kcals
Fat
22g (6.8g saturated)
Protein
32.8g
Carbohydrates
71.2g (20.5g sugars)
Fibre
2g
Salt
0.4g
Calories
618kcals
Fat
22g (6.8g saturated)
Protein
32.8g
Carbohydrates
71.2g (20.5g sugars)
Fibre
2g
Salt
0.4g

Ingredients

  • 250g basmati rice (white or brown)
  • Glug olive oil
  • 6 free-range boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 pared strips lemon or orange zest
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 75g raisins
  • 500g cold water
  • Large pinch saffron strands soaked in 2 tbsp hot water

To serve

  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • Large handful chopped fresh herbs (we used dill and parsley)
  • 2 tbsp ready-fried onions (we used Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients)
  • 150g natural yogurt

You’ll also need… 

  • Shallow 2 litre casserole with a lid or lidded ovenproof saucepan

Method

  1. Soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes. Rinse and drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a glug of oil in a shallow casserole with a lid and, in batches, brown the chicken all over. Remove and set aside.
  3. In the same casserole, melt the butter, then add the cinnamon stick, zest, pomegranate molasses and raisins. Fry for 2 minutes, then remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Spoon a thin layer of washed rice over the bottom of the casserole. In a large bowl, toss the remaining rice with the set-aside fruit/zest/spices and season well. Spoon into the casserole, then top with the chicken, pushing the pieces into the rice. Pour over the water. Using a chopstick (or similar), make 4-5 holes in the rice and pour over the saffron and its cooking water. Wrap the casserole lid in a clean tea towel and cover the pan, tucking in the ends away from the flame. Cook gently for 30 minutes.
  5. Spoon onto a platter and top with pine nuts, herbs and fried onions, then serve with yogurt.

delicious. tips

  1. Cooking the rice slowly like this often creates a toasted crusty layer at the bottom of the pan – called ‘tahdig’ in Persian – which is the best bit.

  2. Rice is easy to overcook so careful measurement is needed to make sure you don’t end up with a mush caused by cooking in too much liquid. The double-up method works every time: to cook rice for 4 people, weigh 250g rice and cook in 500g water (use a digital scale). It also helps to soak the rice in cold water first, then rinse under several changes of cold water to remove excess starch, which can cause the rice to stick.

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Read what others say...

  1. When my sister and I were children, we would compete for the largest portion of the crust which formed on the bottom of the pan. Our mother’s family hailed from Gujarat and she called this crust kruchni. Happy memories of a beloved mum. Thank you for a lovely recipe :)

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