I will say straight away that I usually shy away, turn my nose up even, when it comes to rice with raisins in. And this dish has both of those ingredients. Together! But it was delicious, and it works, which shouldn’t really surprise me seeing as it’s an actual National dish of a country…
Pat said, and I quote; “This is my favourite way to have chicken.” I would say I agree as cooking chicken this way always leaves a really tender and tasty meat. The ‘broth’ is the star of the show here, making a delicious deep flavoured rice and the carrots, raisins and nuts added complexity without overpowering any other flavours.
Like most special occasion dinners it’s not just the ingredients (expensive meat and nuts, and of course that staple rice) that make it special, but primarily because it takes so long to make properly, at least that’s what I assume! But this is a reasonably quick version, taking about an hour and a bit to prepare altogether. I did it after work and didn’t get too stressed. :)
Serves 3 or 4 normal people, 2 fatties like me and Pat!
6 small skinless chicken thighs
2 medium white onions, peeled and halved
2 tsp. salt
1 dark beef stock (I used Knorr stock blobs.)
2 large carrots, peeled
1 handful black raisins
½ handful slivered almonds
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. Ground Cumin and a sprinkle of cumin seeds (don’t worry if you only have seeds or powder, season to taste)
5 Cardamom pods or 1 ½ tsp. ground cardamom
How I cooked it:
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius.
Make sure your rice is ready to cook, wash and drain if necessary, mine was ready to go.
Pat dry the chicken, and if you like trim off the big bts of fat you often get on thighs.
Chop the onions into fine strips, and the carrot into thick match sticks, about ½ cm across if possible, but don’t worry if they’re not all neat and even – just look at mine! (pic)
Choose a pan that is large enough to fit all the chicken. I have a large pot I can use straight from hob to oven which is handy. Cover the base with oil and sauté the onions over high heat with the lid on, stirring quickly every 30 seconds or so, until brown (5-10 minutes). Make sure they don’t burn, if they’re starting to stick or go black at the edges after the first 1 or 2 stirs turn the heat down slightly and/or stir more often!
My rice needed 25 mins to cook so I put it on now enough for the two of us, according to instructions with half a stock ‘blob’ in. Check the time on whatever brand you use, and adjust when you do this accordingly. However if you need to you can set it aside for around 10 mins before it starts to get too cold. I took mine off the heat around 6 minutes early and drained immediately. You need it to be a little al dente so it can soak up the yummy broth you’re making when it goes in the oven.
Add the chicken to the pan and sprinkle with the salt. Cook the chicken over medium-high heat for 6 minutes, until all sides turn golden brown. Hopefully now onion will start to caramelise and turn into a thick sauce, you can dig at it a bit to speed this process along!
Add the other half of the stock ‘blob’ and a little water (half a mug) and continue stirring for a few seconds to keep it from burning – cover with a lid or aluminium foil, and simmer for 10 minutes. The sauce is supposed to be a dark brown as the onions caramelise – the stock will help with this!
In a large frying pan add carrots to boiling water, and cook until tender, just a few minutes. Keep a close watch and test them every minute or two as they can easily overcook. Once the carrots are done, drain any leftover liquid out of the pan. Add a splash of oil, the raisins, nuts and sugar to the carrots. Stir quickly over medium heat for around 3/4 minutes. This really helps the deeper more complex flavours that make this dish taste good come through. Remove from heat and package the carrots into an aluminium foil package.
Remove the chicken pieces from the broth and set aside – into the pan you just took the carrots from (saves on washing up an extra plate). Stir the cumin, cardamom (I squeezed the seeds out of the pods) and black pepper (to taste, we like lots) into the broth. Continue to cook on low for 5 minutes.
Put the rice back into the broth. Mix well. Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the rice., and the aluminium package of carrots on top of that. This will keep the carrots hot and deepen the flavours.
Bake the rice for 15 minutes in 200 degrees celcius then drop the temperature down to 180 degrees. Cook for another 5-10 minutes uncovered. You will get nice baked bits around the edges as well, but if you’re not sure about your pot, make sure the rice isn’t burning and sticking too much on the sides after the first 15 mins.
Arrange the chicken pieces on a large platter, and hide under the rice. Sprinkle the carrot ‘mix’ on the rice, and enjoy!
If you try this recipe (with good or bad results!) please do let me know in the comments section below, mostly just because I’m very nosey..!