Perfumed jewelled rice with marinated roast chicken

Serves 4 Starters and mains

Saffron Persian rice 2147



  • 3⁄4tsp saffron threads
  • 4tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 skin-on chicken breast supremes
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1⁄2tsp caster sugar
  • finely grated zest 2 large oranges
  • juice 1 large orange
  • 350g basmati rice
  • juice 1⁄2 lemon
  • 35g barberries or goji berries
  • 75g golden sultanas
  • 1⁄2tsp cinnamon
  • 1⁄4tsp freshly ground cardamom seeds
  • 25g toasted flaked almonds
  • 40g pistachio nibs
  • 50g ghee


Crush 1⁄4tsp of the saffron lightly and put in a dish large enough to hold the chicken breasts. Add 1tbsp of the oil and put in the chicken. Rub the mixture all over and marinate, chilled, for a few hours or preferably overnight.

Retrieve the chicken breasts. Rub the flesh-side only with the garlic, then bring up to room temperature, which will take around 40 minutes.

Put the rest of the saffron in a small cup with the sugar. Add 1tbsp hot water and the juice from the orange. Leave to soak while the remaining ingredients are being prepared for cooking.

Rinse the rice. Soak in cold water and the lemon juice for 20 minutes. Put the barberries and raisins in a bowl with the spices, nuts and the orange zest and set aside.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, drain the rice, add to the pan and cook on a high heat for 5 minutes. Drain the rice through a sieve and rinse in warm water. Season with crushed sea salt flakes to taste.

Ten minutes before cooking, season the chicken supremes well with sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7.

Put the chicken skin-side up on a foil-lined tray with any of the marinade added. Roast for around 25 minutes, until the skin is golden and cooked through. Rest it in a warm place until the rice is cooked.

Put the rest of the extra virgin olive oil in a heavy-based pan over a low heat. Spoon roughly a third of the rice into the bottom and scatter with half the berry-and-nut mixture. Add another third of the rice and scatter over the rest of the mixture and cover with the rest of the rice. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, make around 8 holes in the rice all the way to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle over the saffron liquid. Cover the pan lid with a clean tea towel and wrap it and tie with a knot, so the cloth has no chance of catching fire.

Put the lid on the pan and cook for around 20-25 minutes, until the rice forms a crust on the bottom of the pan. Melt the ghee and pour over the rice, then return the lid.

To loosen the crust in the bottom of the pan, put the pan base into a bowl or sink shallowly filled with cold water for a few minutes and serve by scooping the rice out of the pan, leaving the crust behind. Spoon any chicken juices from the roasting tray over the rice. Using a wide wooden spatula, hack the crust from the bottom of the pan and lay it on top of the rice. Serve with the roast chicken supremes.

This recipe was taken from the May 2020 issue of Food and Travel.

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Photography and prop styling by Angela Dukes. Recipes and food styling by Linda Tubby.
Saffron Persian rice 2147
Photography and prop styling by Angela Dukes. Recipes and food styling by Linda Tubby.


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