This recipe is enough for 4 to 6 servings
6 pieces of chicken thigh (skin removed)
1 1/2 Tbls of tomatoe purée
1 medium to large onion
Oil (I’ve used vegetable oil)
1 tsp ground tumeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground saffron
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbls diluted saffron (dilute an additional pinch of ground saffron in half a small tea cup of boiling water)
1 whole Orange
1 tsp finely chopped pistasio or pistasio slivers
1 tsp white granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups of good quality white rice
1 Tsp of butter
For chicken stew
Place 4 Tbls of oil in a deep cooking pot on medium heat.
Dice the onion into small pieces and fry till golden brown
Add the tumeric and stir well to fry with the onion for 30 seconds.
Reduce the heat. If your onions have slightly over fried then remove pot from heat so they don’t burn.
Add the tomato puree, salt, pepper, cinnamon and saffron and stir vigorously over medium heat so that all the spices are mixed well with the puree and onions.
Add half a cup of boiling water to your purée paste.
Add the chicken pieces smooth side down towards the bottom of the pot, this technique will give the chicken a golden carimalised tinge to it.
Place the top of the pot and turn up the heat to high for 2 minutes.
Reduce the heat, remove the top and flip the chicken pieces to see if the skin has turned a golden brown colour. If not, flip them back and replace the lid, raise the heat and give it another minute or so.
Once the chicken has turned a nice golden brown reduce the heat and add 1/2 a pint of boiling water to the pot.
Peel the garlic and put 1 1/2 pieces of roughly chopped garlic into the pot. Crush the other half and add to the stew and gently stir the contents.
Add 1 Tbls lemon juice and 1 Tbls diluted saffron.(see diluted Saffron section below)
Place the top back on and increase the heat to high for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes reduce the heat to medium / low and let the stew simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Note: Ensure you keep checking the stew so that the sauce does not reduce too much. After 45 minutes check the taste of the stew to ensure you’ve put enough salt and pepper to taste.
The Orange & Pistachio garnish
Take the rind of one orange ensuring any big pieces are sliced thinly and no white pith has been peeled.
Place the orange rind in a small saucepan. Fill the pan with half a cup of cold water and place on a high heat. Bring the water to the boil and allow it to reduce at least to a quarter of what it was. Remove from the heat and drain the water separating it from the rind. This technique removes the bitterness from the rind and leaves the fragrance.
Take the juice of the orange and pour in the saucepan and put the rind back in.
Bring the juice to the boil and then reduce to medium heat. Mix 1 tsp of granulated sugar in the water and dissolve to make a syrup.
Add 1 Tbls of diluted Saffron to the syrup and boil until reduced to at least 3 Tbls. Remove from the heat. Finally add the chopped pistachio to the syrup and give it a quick stir.
Put a pinch of ground saffron in a small teacup and fill half with boiling water. Let the saffron rest for 5 to 10 mins. The longer the saffron rests the darker, richer and intenser will be the colour.
The Saffron Rice (drained and steamed)
Place 2 1/2 cups of rice in a medium to big sized non stick cooking pot.
Wash the rice about 2 to 3 times under cold water to clean, draining the water each time.
Fill the pot half way with cold water and mix 1/2 a Tbls of salt, 1 Tbls of lemon juice and 2 Tbls of oil.
Note: This technique of cooking your rice will allow the salt to bring out the flavour of the rice, the lemon to make it whiter and the oil to prevent it from sticking together.
Place the pot on a high heat for 10 to 15 minutes until the water starts to boil and the rice becomes par cooked.
Remove the pot from the heat and drain the water using a colendar.
Place 4 Tbls of oil in the pot and place back on the heat.
Peel and thinly slice a medium sized potato and spread neatly using a spiral pattern at the bottom of the pot. Raise the heat for 2 minutes until you hear the splattering of oil under the potatoes.
Take 2 Tbls of the diluted saffron and sprinkle ontop of the potatoes. Reduce the heat to low. This technique will give you the crispy base Iranians love, called Tahdig!
Take the par boiled rice and gently layer it in the pot over the potatoes.
Finally use the rest of the diluted saffron to pour over the top layer of your rice.
Take a tsp of butter and place on top of the rice in the centre. Cover the top of the pot and allow the rice to steam gradually for 20 to 30 minutes or until the rice is cooked and comes apart without sticking together.
Note: When removing the rice from the pot use a fork to gently pick at the rice, this will help release the rice and make it easier to place on a dish with a bigger utensil.
Once all your rice is in a separate serving dish use a wooden spatula to dislodge the tahdig. If you’re lucky and have used enough oil then the tahdig should come away easily and not break up too much.
You can either place it on a separate dish or by the side of the rice.
Take 5 Tbls of rice and gently mix in the saffron infused orange and pistasio syrup. Garnish this on top of the saffron rice.
Serve along side the Chicken Stew.