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PERSIAN CHICKEN WITH SAFFRON AND PISTACHIOS

PERSIAN CHICKEN WITH SAFFRON AND PISTACHIOS

I’m a massive fan of Purim, it’s a Jewish holiday like no other. It is about celebrations and giving, about feasting and fasting. As we open up the Book of Esther we find King Achashverosh at a lavish banquet, as a kid I would spend time designing this feast as one would design a movie set. In my mind, the aromas and tastes of Persia permeated the atmosphere. Barberries and Saffron, pistachios, and turmeric all battling it out for a prime spot at the king’s table. I imagine my chicken dish inspired by the flavors of Persia would be a welcome addition at Achashverosh’s feast. But just to test out the theory, I tend to serve this dish, pretty much every year at my own Purim Seudah (feast), and it goes down a treat! And if you feel like it, wear a crown while dishing this up!

Serves 6

  • 1 ½ kilos skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, peeled cut in half, and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • Salt
  • A very good pinch of saffron threads
  • 400 g fresh baby spinach, stems removed, torn if large
  • 20 g fresh mint leaves, torn
  • 20 g fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 75 g raw pistachios, roughly chopped

1. Cut the thighs in half. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and fry the chicken until golden but not cooked through, turning once. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan. When chicken is golden, remove to a dish and set aside.

2. Add the onions to the now-empty pan, and fry until they become soft and golden. Add the turmeric, mixing well so that all the onions are coated. Season with pepper, add the wine and stock and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat and return the chicken and any juices from the bottom of the dish to the pan. Simmer covered for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and add the saffron, stirring to dissolve the strands.

4. Gradually add the spinach, which will wilt quickly and allow you to add much more than you think will fit into the pan. Stir in mint and dill, and check additional salt and pepper. Just before serving, top with pistachios.