The smell of saffron has a very special place in my heart. The memories evoked not only from the original source of my childhood, but the consequential moments along the way working in kitchens, baking in my own kitchen and tasting foods whilst travelling have only served to increase the significance of this exclusive and distinct spice.
When I saw this recipe in Karen Martini’s Cooking At Home there was no way I wasn’t giving it a try. I’ll be honest and say the ingredient list looked a little overwhelming in its length but having spent time recently making curries where the first 15 ingredients are only the spices I know that it’s not always a bad thing to have this many ingredients, often it just adds to the deliciousness.
Crazy as it sounds this is actually a very quick dish to create and is well suited to the premise of Martini’s book being quick easy meals to create at home with a family when time and energy is short, but you don’t want to sacrifice on flavour.
I particularly liked the sweetness that the sultana’s/ currents impart and the nice marriage of flavours that didn’t leave one spice dominating over another. I may have cooked my chicken a little longer than was recommended so that it fell apart upon eating, but I don’t think it detracted from the overall dish. In fact I’d be tempted to do the same again, but next time I’ll cook with meat on the bone for a sweeter and more meaty result.
I made a few adaptions to the recipe based on personal taste and availability of ingredients in my kitchen. What I loved about this recipe is that it is not bound by needed to be a particular way and does lend itself to you following your intuition and preference without it making a massive difference to the eventual outcome. For example I used fresh chicken stock and ditched the vegetable stock powder and water because I had some in the kitchen and wanted to use it. I also substituted the currents with sultanas and whilst they were more plump they still did their job of giving that sweet edge to the dish which it needed. Over all this creation for this month’s Cookbook Guru was another delicious discovery and one that I’ll be repeating in the coming cooler months of the year.
If you want to check out what we are doing over on The Cookbook Guru and join in amazing adventures that we are having exploring new cook books together make sure that you have a peak. Follow us to see what we create and please join in if you are up for trying new recipes and sharing them with your fellow Cookbook Guru’s.
Syrian Chicken with Saffron, Ginger & Lemon
from Cooking At Home by Karen Martini
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1.4-1.6kg of chicken cut into 8 pieces
- 100ml olive oil
- 2 brown onions thickly sliced
- 100g fresh ginger cut into match sticks
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 small red chillis split
- 2 tomatoes coarsely chopped
- 2 pinches saffron threads
- ½ cumin seeds
- 5 springs thyme, leaves only
- Coarsely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbl honey
- 100g currents
- 2 tbl sp vegetable stock powder
- ½ bunch coriander, leaves only
Combine salt, cumin, cinnamon, pepper and turmeric into a large plastic bag and add chicken. Massage until chicken is well coated.
Heat olive oil in a heavy based pan. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove from the heat and set aside. Add onions, ginger, garlic, and chilli and cook for 3 minutes. Add tomato, saffron, cumin seeds and thyme and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Return chicken to the pan and add lemon juice, zest, honey, currents, stock powder and just enough water to cover the chicken. Cover with a lid and cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook for a further 15 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through and the sauce is slightly reduced. Stir in coriander and serve with couscous or rice.
Happy Cooking & Happy Eating,