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Persian Chicken

publication date: Mar 27, 2008
author/source: Fiona Beckett
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This terrific one-pot dish was inspired by one of my favourite cookery books last year, Persia in Peckham by Sally Butcher. The original contained lamb and beans but when I realised I was cooking almost nothing but lamb for my new book I decided to adapt it to chicken.

What you can’t do without are the dried limes which you can find in middle-eastern grocers and ridiculously large amounts of herbs (so no use buying them in a supermarket)

It makes a great meal for adventurous eaters who have been everywhere and eaten everything. The tangy lemon and herbal flavours are really quite unique. And incredibly addictive

Serves 6
Time: 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours
Cost: £1.50-£1.75 a head

8-10 free-range chicken thighs, ideally still on the bone
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
4 dried limes*, washed and pierced in several places with a skewer or sharp knife
About 1 litre cold chicken stock*, either home-made or made with an organic stock cube
1 - 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
8 waxy small to medium-sized potatoes (about 500-600g in total) quartered or cut into eight
2 tbsp oil
A large bunch of chives or spring onion tops (the green bits), finely sliced
A bunch of spinach
A good-sized bunch each of parsley and coriander
Yoghurt, finely sliced onion and hot pepper sauce to serve

Cut and pull away the skin from the chicken thighs and put them in a large casserole or sauté pan. Add the onion, garlic and dried limes, cover with stock and sprinkle over a good teaspoon of turmeric. Bring slowly to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes. Push down the limes into the liquid from time to time so they don't just bob on the top of the stew. Add the potatoes and continue to cook until tender (about another 20-25 minutes) Meanwhile wash the herbs and spinach thoroughly, removing the tougher stalks and chop finely. Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok, add the onion and herbs and fry them for a couple of minutes until they wilt. Tip them into the stew , stir, put the lid back on and cook for another 10-15 minutes for the flavours to infuse. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Traditionally this type of dish would be served with boiled basmatti rice but you could serve it with couscous. (In bowls as there's quite a lot of liquid) Good sides are plain yoghurt, very finely sliced onion and hot pepper sauce.


* to make cold chicken stock from a cube simply dissolve the cube (or bouillon powder) in boiling water then top up with cold water

* If you wanted to stretch the dish you could add a can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed when you add the herbs

For more about dried limes see my blog


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