This recipe is based on a dish my grandmother used to cook, though her version was simpler and less intensely spiced. It's one of my go-to dishes for a family dinner; it's tasty, pretty quick and very kind to the person doing the dishes. It also reheats well: just fry the rice, slice or shred the chicken and add to the pan to warm through. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt and some more dill. Whole quail would also work nicely for this dish instead of chicken.
30g dried cranberries
extra virgin olive oil
3 brown onions, sliced finely in half moons
4 cloves garlic, sliced
freshly ground black pepper
6 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in (about 1.4kg total weight)
300g basmati rice
1 tsp ground allspice
10 green cardamom pods, husks removed, seeds ground
600ml quality chicken stock, hot
1 cinnamon stick
peel of half a lemon
1 large handful dill fronds, roughly chopped
1 large handful pepitas
plain yoghurt and lemon juice to serve
1. Preheat oven to 200C fan-forced or 220C conventional.
2. Cover the cranberries with boiling water and set aside to rehydrate.
3. Add a good splash of olive oil to a deep saute pan or ovenproof ceramic dish over a medium flame. Add the onions and garlic, season and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until caramelised. Tip into a bowl and set aside.
4. Wipe out the pan and return to the heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and cook on each side for about five minutes or until golden brown - enough fat should render out of the chicken, but add a splash of oil if the pan is too dry. Remove and set aside.
5. Tip most of the fat out of the pan and add the rice, allspice, cardamom and a couple of pinches of salt and fry until the spices are fragrant. Pour in the stock and spread half the caramelised onions over the bottom of the pan. Add back the chicken, skin side up, with the cinnamon stick and lemon peel and bring to a simmer. Distribute the remaining onions on top of the chicken pieces, pushing the thighs down so that they are mostly covered with liquid. Scatter over the cranberries and pepitas, cover the pan tightly with foil and place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and rest for five minutes, covered. Remove the foil and fluff the rice a little with a fork, sprinkle over the chopped dill, squeeze over some lemon juice and serve with yoghurt.
1. Instead of dried cranberries you could also use small dried figs or barberries.
2. You can cook and assemble all the elements of this dish, minus the stock, and simply add the hot stock once you're ready to cook - just don't do this so early that you need to refrigerate it, as it will throw the cooking time out.
3. A little salad of mint, coriander and parsley leaves would also be a nice touch as a side dish.