This is an easy, economical and delicious all time favourite. My grand children love it. You can use any of the chicken, legs, thighs, wings and breast or a combination.
- Portions of chicken in which ever combination you prefer.
- 1 large onion
- 1 cap of Lime juice
- 1/3 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 desert spoon of tomatoe purée
- I cup of za’faran infused water
- salt and pepper to taste
- Infuse za’faran as described in ‘ saffron and what to do with it ‘ http://javanehskitchen.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/saffron-and-what-to-do-with it/
- If you prefer to bake this in the oven, put your oven on at 200c or 392f or gas mark 6. Alternatively you can continue to cook this in a pan.
- Dice the onion
- Gently fry the onion in a large pan until it becomes transparent
- Add the chicken pieces, salt and pepper and cook off until sealed
- Add the turmeric and stir
- Add the za’faran infusion, tomatoe puree and lime juice
- Allow to simmer for a few minutes before transferring to the oven in a covered oven proof dish. You can use foil to cover the dish and remove in th last 15 minutes of cooking to allow chicken to brown off. Bake for 30 -40 minutes.
Serve for lunch or dinner with any rice dish, salad Shirazi, mixed green herbs and natural yoghurt. Za’faran chicken goes well with ‘ Sabzi Polou‘ or ‘ Zereshk Polou‘ .
Before you begin to think about cooking any Persian rice dish, there are a few essential things you need to know about rice.
Polou or Chello?
- In it’s uncooked form rice is called berenge.
- Chello is rice that has been soaked in salted water and par boiled. Polou is rice that has been through the previous stage of boiling and is then steamed. Polou ( if you get it right) is fluffy separate grains of rice and is not sticky.
- Kateh is rice that has been cooked in boiling water until the water has disappeared. This is a little wetter and can be a little sticky.
- Dami is like kateh but has other ingredients added like Estamboli Polou or Addas polou.
- Taadig is the crust which forms at the bottom of the pan if you cook the rice long enough over a low heat.
- There are many different grades of rice and you need a medium to good quality. You can buy many cheaper grades of rice but you will need to experiment with the amount of time you soak it and boil it for.
- Always, always wash the rice in water under a running tap until you see the water run clear. It carries a lot of dust and sometimes other things! Although with good quality rice the ‘other’ things shouldn’t be an issue.
- With most recipes you will need to pre soak the rice. There are a few exceptions. The soak time will depend on the quality of the rice you use. You can experiment with other brands.
- I recommend ‘Mahan’ or ‘Safar’ which is available in most Iranian grocery stores but there are some good alternatives such as ‘Tilda’.
Dont worry if the uncooked rice isn’t brilliant white. Larger commercial companies sometimes bleach the rice to make it look more attractive. Usually though it’s a little yellowish in colour but it will turn white when cooked.
Rice cooker V traditional method?
A rice cooker is a free-standing electrical appliance for cooking rice. The traditional method of cooking rice is time-consuming and requires your focused attention throughout the whole process. A rice cooker simplifies the process by automatically adjusting the temperature and timing and leaves you free to do other things. Once you have added the correct amount of water, it will need no further attention.
It’s not an essential to have a rice cooker but it sure is handy. If you practice, the rice you produce from your rice cooker can be every bit as delicious as the results you get from the traditional long method. It’s even possible to make polou with additional ingredients in it.
I can’t personally recommend any particular brand and I’ve owned many rice cookers. They come in a range of sizes and that is probably the most important consideration to think about. In the UK rice cookers cost roughly from £25 upwards. They are easily found in electrical stores, some supermarkets and any good Iranian Grocery store will stock them.
My personal preference is the traditional method when possible. I use my rice cooker when I’m tired or feeling lazy, need space on my cooker or when I havent got enough time.
~~SAFFRON AND IT’S MANY USES~~
Saffron or za’ferân is a delicate spice derived from the crocus flower. Widely used in the east it is a much under used spice in the west. It has many medicinal qualities and is said to help ward off depression and make you laugh… that can’t be bad! The ancient Persians were feared by their enemies as they developed a reputation for using it as a drug to sedate and as an aphrodisiac . Alexandra the Great is reputed to have stolen the idea from the Persians and used Persian za’feran in his baths, for his food and as a cure for battle injuries. No doubt he tried it with the ladies too. Other uses include help with child-birth, as a dye and as a cure for headaches.
Saffron is widely available and can be found in most supermarkets. There is a large amount of Spanish saffron on the market but I recommend you buy a high grade saffron such as Iranian za’faran as its colour and scent is much stronger and you will therefore use less of it. Most Iranian grocery stores stock it but I have to warn you, its expensive. If you don’t live within access to an Iranian grocery store, try an indian one.
~STORAGE OF SAFFRON~ What ever you do, you must store it in a cool, dark airtight container otherwise the colour and scent of the za’faran will diminish.Never leave it on the shelf or it will be almost useless and taste less.
~PREPARATION OF SAFFRON~ I usually grind mine in a pestle and mortar as I need it. However many cooks grind it in advance. I don’t think there is any advantage either way. If the meal you are cooking is sweet, such as Khoreshte Fesenjun, use a tiny pinch of sugar to help grind it down but otherwise use a tiny pinch of salt. Once your za’faran is ground to a powdery like substance it is ready for use.
~TO MAKE LIQUID SAFFRON~Take a pinch of za’faran and place it in a small cup. Add a little boiling water and stir and then cover and allow to infuse for at least 30 minutes. The longer you leave it, the richer the color. Once you’ve made liquid zafaran you can keep it in the fridge for about 2-3 days, but cover it with cling film first!
Za’faran is used every day in Iranian cooking not only to enhance the flavour of the food but also for decoration. Its used in a variety of dishes across every meal. I even place a tiny pinch of it when I make chai ( black and flavoured tea) …. a cup of za’faran infused chai everyday can help ward off depressive thinking. It certainly cheers me up as it soooo delicious. You can also use za’faran flavoured ‘nabat’, a sugar candy used to sweeten chai. Nabat can be bought at most Iranian grocery stores. Unfortunately this isn’t widely available and I have not yet seen it in a supermarket in the west.
DECORATIVE USES ~ Most Iranians use za’faran to decorate and flavour rice dishes. I often use it in throughout the cooking process and as for a decorative finish. This is a picture of Zereshk Polou, steamed Iranian rice with zereshk ( barberries and slithers of almonds) and I will feature the recipe soon.
Za’faran has a huge number of uses in an Iranian kitchen. It’s an essential and fundamental feature of Iranian cooking.