Persian chicken with saffron rice pilaf

Persian chicken with saffron rice pilaf

Eat Right For Your Body Type
Lisa Linder

This is a great dish, inspired by the simple, clean flavours of Persia. It is really good for pitta imbalances as saffron reduces pitta in the body and dates are great for cleansing the blood (a prolonged imbalanced pitta can lead to blood disorders). This dish is also good for vata as the saffron is nourishing and the rice easy to digest (you can add a little more ghee or butter). It contains a little too much of the ‘sweet’ taste (chicken and rice are both ‘sweet’) for kapha, but you can serve small portions with lots of vegetables on the side and use chicken breast instead of thighs.


Quantity Ingredient
350g poussin, skinned and jointed
or 2 large chicken thighs, skinned and 3 slashes cut on the surface


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chicken stock
1/4 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves

Saffron rice

Quantity Ingredient
100g basmati rice
good pinch saffron
1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
1 large cinnamon stick
4 green cardamom pods
1/2 medium onion, peeled and sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
240ml water or chicken stock
2 dates, seeds removed and sliced or chopped into large pieces


  1. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the chicken, stir well to coat and leave to marinate for as long as possible (it is really important for the chicken to have time to absorb flavours, so overnight in the fridge is best). Bring back to room temperature before roasting.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Scrape the marinade off the chicken and strain all the solids so that just the flavoured oil remains. Place this in a baking dish, top with the chicken and bake until done, around 20 minutes for poussin, 30 minutes for thighs. Baste regularly with the oil.
  3. Meanwhile, wash the basmati rice and leave to soak. Infuse the saffron in 2 tablespoons of hot water for 15 minutes.
  4. To make the rice, heat the ghee or oil in a medium saucepan. Add the spices and cook for 20 seconds and follow with the onion, cook until golden brown and slightly caramelized. Add the garlic and cook for 40 seconds, follow with the drained rice, water or stock and saffron water. Season to taste (taste the water, it should be only slightly salty).
  5. Bring to a boil, stir in the dates, reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover tightly and cook, undisturbed, for 9 minutes. Check one grain; if it’s not done, cook for another minute or two. Turn off the heat and leave to steam for 5 minutes. Fluff up with a fork and serve topped with the chicken and drizzled with pan juices.
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