The essence of comfort food, lovely spiced basmati rice with browned tender chicken thighs, served with a delicious smooth Greek yogurt sauce with garlic, just the thing when you want a one pot dinner without a lot of fuss. I discovered this pilaf-like dish in the cookbook Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottenlenghi and Sami Tamimi, full of gorgeous recipes. I’ve modified this recipe a bit but it is essentially theirs.

Start with 8 chicken thighs. Use a sharp knife to remove excess fat, leaving the skin but removing any flaps of fat. Place in a bowl and rub the chicken with whole spices, salt/pepper and olive oil. Allow to sit while you prep the rest of the dish.

Rinse the rice in a fine sieve until the water runs clear, drain well and put to the side.

Chop the herbs and set aside.


Peel the onions, cut in half and slice thinly.

Heat a large flat skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil and gently fry the onion slices until golden brown and completely soft, stirring often to prevent burning, about 20 minutes. Remove to a small bowl.

Turn up the heat until the pan is hot, and add chicken thighs skin down with the spices, and allow to fry 10 minutes or so undisturbed until the fat is fully rendered from the chicken skin and the skin is beautifully browned. Flip over and continue to fry another 5 minutes or so. Remove to a plate. Drain the chicken fat in the pan, leaving all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan and any spices not attached to the chicken.

Return the pan to the stove on medium heat. Heat a kettle with at least 2.5 cups of water to boil.

Return the onions to the pan, and then the drained rice. Stir to combine well. Add 1 tsp salt. Nestle the chicken in the rice.


When the water comes to a boil, add 2.5 cups, turn the heat up to get the whole pan bubbling and hot, gently stir the water into the rice around the chicken bits, add the currants, and cover with a tight fitting lid.

Turn the heat down to simmer (low) and set the timer for 35 minutes.

When 35 minutes is up lift the lid and check to see if the rice needs a sprinkling of boiling water. Rinsing the rice before you cook it helps prevent the rice from drying out, but if necessary, add a small amount of water.

Cover the open pot with a clean dishtowel, replace the lid, turn off the heat, and all to sit undisturbed for 10 additional minutes.

Whisk together the whole fat Greek yogurt, 3-5 cloves of garlic (pressed) to taste, 1 TBLS olive oil and some salt and pepper.

If desired, brown pine nuts in butter over medium heat until golden brown, remove to a small bowl and use as a garnish.

When the 10 minutes is up on the chicken, fluff the rice with a fork and then stir in the fresh herbs. Check for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper of needed. Serve the chicken with the yogurt sauce on the side, and topped with a good sprinkling of pine nuts.



Chicken with Carmelized Onion and Cardamom Rice


  • Chicken With Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice
  • Time: 1 hour, plus 30 minutes’ cooking and 10 minutes’ resting
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced (2 cups/250 grams)
  • 2 1/4 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (1 kilogram), or 1 whole chicken, quartered
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • Rounded 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 long cinnamon sticks, broken in two
  • 1 2/3 cups basmati rice (300 grams)
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water (550 milliliters)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dill leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 2/3 cup Greek yogurt (200 grams), mixed with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, 3-5 crushed cloves garlic (optional), and salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1/3 cup pinenuts, pan fried in 1 TBLS butter until golden brown.


  1. 1. Cut off any unnecessary flaps of fat on the chicken and place the chicken in a large mixing bowl and season with 1½ teaspoons each salt and black pepper. Add the remaining olive oil, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and use your hands to mix everything together well.
  2. 2. Rinse the rice well in a fine meshed strainer until the water runs clear. Drain well and set aside.
  3. 3. Heat half the olive oil in a large sauté pan for which you have a lid over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has turned a deep golden brown. Transfer the onion to a small bowl.
  4. 4. Heat the frying pan again with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place the chicken and spices in it, skin side down. Allow chicken to brown for 10 minutes on the skin side down, until crisp and brown and the fat is well rendered, and then flip over for another 5 minutes (this is important as it part-cooks the chicken). The spices can stay in the pan, but don’t worry if they stick to the chicken. Remove most of the remaining oil as well, leaving just a thin film at the bottom. Add the rice, caramelized onion, 1 teaspoon salt and plenty of black pepper. Add the currants as well. Stir well and return the seared chicken to the pan, pushing it into the rice.
  5. 4. Pour the boiling water over the rice and chicken, cover the pan, and cook over very low heat for 35 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, remove the lid, quickly place a clean tea towel over the pan, and seal again with the lid. Leave the dish undisturbed for another 10 minutes. Finally, add the herbs and use a fork to stir them in and fluff up the rice. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot or warm with yogurt mixture and pinenuts if you like.