Guest chef

Sarah Randell

Our former Food Director, and previously food editor to Delia Smith, Sarah has written more than 1000 recipes for the magazine. She is also author of Family Baking and Marmalade; A Bittersweet Cookbook.

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Persian chicken

  • Serves 6
  • Prep 20 mins
  • Total time 1 hr 40 mins
3.2/5 rating (66 votes)
Persian chicken
Persian chicken

step by step

  • 1Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6. Cut any excess fat and skin off the chicken thighs – using scissors is the easiest way to do this. Arrange the thighs in a large roasting tin, about 25 x 35 x 7cm deep. Season them with crushed sea salt and pepper. Scatter the onion among the chicken; roast for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the cardamom from the pods and crush in a pestle and mortar, add the other spices and the oil and mix together. If you don't have a pestle and mortar, crush the cardamom with the back of a spoon and mix with the spices and oil in a bowl.
  • 2After the 30 minutes, baste the chicken and onion with the juices in the tin and brush the chicken with the spiced oil. Return to the oven for 20 minutes. In a bowl, mix the cooked rice, chickpeas, almonds, apricots and preserved lemon, breaking up larger clumps of rice.
  • An all-in-one chicken recipe that means minimal washing up and stress-free entertaining. Serve with a leafy green salad with a lemony dressing – mix 4 tbsp olive oil with 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp sugar and some seasoning; shake in a jar to mix.
  • 3For the harissa yogurt, mix the yogurt in a bowl with the herbs and a pinch of salt, add the harissa and gently stir to marble it through.
  • 4After the 20 minutes' cooking time, remove the tin from the oven and, using tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate. Tip the rice mix into the tin, season with salt and mix it well with the roasting juices. Return the chicken to sit on top of the rice and tuck the strips of orange peel and the cinnamon sticks into the rice. Roast for a further 30 minutes. Serve with the harissa yogurt, sprinkled with the coriander leaves and pomegranate seeds.
  • Recipe photograph by Maja Smend

Get ahead

Make the spiced oil, the rice mix and the harissa yogurt several hours ahead. Chill the rice mix.

You will need

  • 12 chicken thighs (skin on, bone in)
  • sea salt
  • 2 red onions, peeled and each cut into 8 through the root
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground sumac
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250g ready-cooked pure basmati rice (we used Tilda)
  • 250g ready-cooked brown basmati rice (we used Tilda)
  • 400g chickpeas, drained
  • 75g skin-on almonds, roughly chopped
  • 150g dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 2 preserved lemons, pips removed, chopped
  • pared peel of a small orange, in strips
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves
  • 100g pomegranate seeds

For the harissa yogurt

  • 6 tbsp Greek-style natural yogurt
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 2 tsp harissa, we like Belazu rose harissa

+ Nutritional Information