The idea for this dish actually came from two of Nigella Lawson’s recipes, ‘Saffron Scented Chicken Pilaf‘ and ‘Chicken with Spring Onions, Chili and Greek Yogurt‘. I’ve drawn from both these recipes but made quite a few changes to suit my personal taste. This was the first time I’ve ever cooked rice and because I was trying to prep all 3 components of this dish at once, I forgot to take photos of the process!
This meal is perfect for Summer, when it’s so hot you literally don’t even feel like eating anything. It’s delicate flavours and the cool Yogurt are just right to beat the heat!
Here we go:
2 whole Skinless Chicken Breasts (sliced into 4 fillets)
1 cup Yogurt
2 Limes (juice only)
2-3 cloves Garlic (minced)
1 tsp Cinnamon (powdered)
1 tsp Olive Oil
Salt (to taste)
Add the minced Garlic, Olive Oil and Lime Juice to a glass bowl. Pour in the Yogurt, stir gently while adding in the Cinnamon. Mildly season with salt and add the Chicken fillets. Make sure each one is coated on both side with the marinade. Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge for a few hours (1 hour minimum) or leave outside at room temp for 1 hour.
To cook the Chicken (make sure it’s at room temp when you decide to cook it), add one fillet at a time to a hot pan with just a dash of Olive Oil, on a low-medium flame. The marinade will splutter about a bit so be careful and wear an apron! Keep turning it over so that it browns evenly on both sides. If you feel the Chicken is drying out, top with a dollop of the marinade.
Make sure you don’t under-cook the Chicken! Poke it with a spatula to make sure (if it feels rubbery or bouncy, then it’s under-cooked) or just make a few shallow cuts in the fillet and check to see that the flesh has turned white. When it’s ready, it should be tender and juicy. Serve on a bed of Coriander leaves OR you could even lay it over the rice.
1/2 tsp Saffron strands
4 Cubes Chicken Stock (I used the Maggi cubes)
2 cups Water (for the Stock)
1 Cup Basmati Rice
2 Cardamom Pods (bruised)
2 Lemons (or 1 big one) for Zest and Juice
4 tbsp Almonds (peeled and chopped)
2 tbsp Raisins
1 tbsp Butter
1 1/2 tbsp Canola Oil
4 tbsp Parsley (freshly chopped leaves or dried will do)
Dissolve the Chicken Stock Cubes in water (it helps to use boiling hot water from a kettle). Add the Saffron strands and stir gently. Melt the Butter + Canola Oil in a pan on a low flame and add the Basmati Rice to it. Make sure the Basmati Rice is evenly coated and glossy with the Butter + Canola Oil.
Add it to the pot of Chicken Stock along with the Cardamom, Cloves, Lime Juice and Lime Zest. Put the pot to boil on a medium-high flame. Bring it to a boil once, then lower the flame, cover the pot with a lid and leave it to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Taste and check to see if the Rice has cooked (try not to overcook it). Drain any excess water from the Rice and lightly fork it onto your serving dish.
Top it with the chopped Almonds*, Raisins and Parsley.
(*For the Almonds: Soak them overnight, peel the skins and chop them into slivers. Add to a pan with the Raisins and about 1-2 tbsp Butter and sauté til a golden hue is attained.)
2 Cucumbers (peeled and grated)
1 Green Chili (fresh, finely chopped)
4-5 Cloves Garlic (grated)
2 cups Plain Yogurt
3 tbsp Coriander (fresh, chopped)
Salt (to taste)
Whisk the Yogurt with a fork until smooth, add all the ingredients together in a bowl and voila! You now have Greek Yogurt**. Garnish with Coriander leaves for that extra-fancy touch.
(**On a side note, this isn’t actually ‘Greek’ Yogurt but I’ve borrowed from their traditional tzatziki recipe instead. You could also use hung curd to get a slightly thicker, creamier consistency, or add a bit of Feta to the regular yogurt.)