Iranian Cuisine, or Persian, is one of these things you have to try. Actually, it has inspired many other cuisines. It is said to be the first cuisine to have used nuts in cooked dishes and sweets. It is said that it has initiated Baklava that the Turkish have “perfected”..
They have amazing ways to handle rice, nuts, herbs, berries., not to forget kebabs.
Like any authentic cuisine, it’s best eaten home-cooked.
Today, I’m not making a 100% Iranian dish, but closer: because of the quantity of saffron used, because of the barberries which you can replace with cranberries and because of way how rice was cooked.
Baby chicken with Iranian-inspired rice
Prep: 10 min – Cooking: 70 min
1 cup basmati rice
1 small chicken (better flavour)or chicken in pieces
1 medium chopped onion
¼ cup of frozen green peas
1 small carrot, chopped (optional)
Chicken bouillon or stock
4 tbsps of olive oil
¼ of dried barberries (Zereshk in Iranian), or cranberries
2 good pinches of saffron threads
1 tsp of turmeric powder + 1 tsp for marinade
Salt and pepper to taste
Coriander, chopped (optional)
Barberries, you can find them in Middle-eastern/ Iranian shops
Remove the skin from chicken pieces or keep it if you plan to roast it. Marinate with 2 tbsp of olive oil, salt, turmeric, garlic, and pepper for 2 hours or overnight.
In a saucepan, heat the oil. Sear the chicken from all sides. Add the chopped onions, turmeric and cook through. Add water (or stock), chopped carrots if you are using. Lower the heat, cover and let simmer until chicken is cooked (about 45 min). You may add a tablespoon of chopped coriander to the recipe at this stage.
I did add the green peas while the chicken was cooking because because mines were raw/fresh. If you are using frozen vegetables, add them at a later stage.
Wash barberries with cold water and drain the water.
Pour saffron in a small bowl. Add 2-3 tablespoons of hot water let sit for about 10 min. Add to the simmering sauce.
Fish the chicken then add the barberries, the peas (if frozen), the rice (no pre-soaking or washing needed, but you need to make sure there is enough liquid to cook the rice, use 2 ratios of liquid to 1 ratio of rice as usual) and mix well. Adjust the seasoning.
Rice cooked in the same sauce we cooked the chicken and vegetables in.
Cover the rice with a cloth and then with a plate or something similar. Let cook until it absorbs all juice. The Iranians have a genius way of presenting this, they serve the rice as a pie with a golden crust at the bottom, which will become the top the moment you reverse it. This is not going to be the idea for today plus this needs expertise.
I’m not there yet. So I fluff up the rice with a fork and serve it.
I roasted the chicken then stuffed it wirh veggies. You may stuff it before (or skip the stuffing part)
Cook chicken under grill of a preheated oven at 240 C for 20 minutes, turning from each side. You could brush it with the sauce or some olive oil to avoid drying it. Serve with rice. You may squeeze some lemon juice on the top. I think it gives a fresh bite besides some fresh coriander and the barberries.
Note: while fishing the chicken from the sauce, I have also fished most of the vegetables which I ‘ve stuffed the birds with.
While serving, this came out as a surprising vegetable lava, It made the whole dish look more colouful.