I’ve fallen in love with Saffron. Its delicate almost floral flavour can turn even the most simple of dishes into something special – both in flavour and colour. It’s not a cheap ingredient and although you don’t seem to get a lot for your money it’s very much a case that little goes a long way. Half a dozen strands in a bowl of rice is more than enough – indeed I think you can easily overdo it if you’re not careful, so restraint is key here.
In this recipe I’ve paired a bowl of beautifully golden saffron rice with sharp and juicy Pomegranate Chicken – a combination of flavours and textures that work so well together. The pomegranate theme extends beyond the sweet and sour marinade for the chicken too, with pomegranate seeds added to both the rice and sauce to add a little bit of sparkle and crunch.
It’s a simple dish but it looks beautiful and tastes even better. What more could ask for than that?
Pomegranate Chicken with Saffron Rice
The combination of sharp pomegranate and the subtle elegance of saffron makes this relatively simple dish feel really special.
for the Marinated Chicken
- 2 cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
- 6 tbsp Pomegranate Molasses
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Cumin
- ½ tsp Saffron
- 800 g Skinless and Boneless Chicken Thigh Fillets
for the Rice
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Red Onion peeled and chopped
- 1 Red Pepper chopped
- 1 Green Pepper chopped
- 1 small Carrot finely chopped
- 300 g Basmati Rice washed and drained
- 750 ml Good Quality Chicken Stock
- ½ tsp Saffron
- 4 tbsp Pomegranate Seeds
- 1 small Handful Fresh Coriander chopped
Marinate the Chicken
Mix together the marinade ingredients in a large bowl or zip-lock bag. Add in the chicken and agitate until the meat is well coated with the marinade. Put into the fridge and allow the flavours to develop for a couple of hours.
When ready to cook the dish, remove the chicken from the fridge around 15 minutes ahead of time to allow it to come back to room temperature.
Cook the Dish
Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan or sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, pepper and carrot and fry for 5 minutes until starting to soften, but still retaining some crunch.
Meanwhile heat a second heavy frying pan, with a small amount of oil. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade, saving the excess marinade, and place gently in the pan. Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, until golden and the chicken is cooked through.
Add the basmati rice to the pan and str fry for 2-3 minutes until the rice has heated through and turned slightly transparent on the tips. Pour in the chicken stock and sprinkle over the saffron fronds, stir well then cover the pan. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the rice is tender and fluffy. Check from around 8 minutes to avoid over cooking the rice.
Remove the cooked chicken from the second pan and put to one side on a covered, warmed plate. Pour the excess marinade into the pan and reduce it over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat, then return the cooked chicken to the pan along with 2 tbsp of pomegranate seeds. Mix and keep warm before serving.
Remove the rice from the heat and stir through the other 2 tbsp of pomegranate seeds and half of the coriander.
Divide the rice mixture between four bowls, then top with the cooked chicken and spoon over some of the reduced sauce. Garnish with a little more fresh coriander and serve.