This Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice is a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, and probably the most requested meal in my house ~ it’s a must-make!
I will say right from the start that this meal is spectacular, very easy to make, and the rice itself is going to live on in my kitchen for many years to come. The aromas and flavors that emanate from this at every stage are intoxicating, and don’t diminish after a night in the fridge. The combination is surprisingly simple, but potent: cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, salt and pepper are the spices, and they mingle with fresh herbs and sweet currants to make a memorable meal. The crispy browned chicken doesn’t hurt, either.
I am slowly cooking my way through the many stunning pages of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s cookbook, Jerusalem. Every once in a while a cookbook comes along that not only breaks new ground with its recipes, but is approachable, and visually inspiring. This one does it all, and I have to say, every recipe I’ve tried so far has been equally as spectacular.
I’ve made this dish twice now, which I rarely do these days since there are so many thousands of recipes I’m waiting to try, so that should tell you how good it is. The aroma of the rice, even when you’re just reheating it in the microwave, is incredible. And I really like that it’s not a hugely complex mix of spices, just a few well chosen flavors combine to make this special.
I made enough chicken for 2, and then we ate the leftover rice the next night topped with poached eggs (which I highly recommend!) Add more chicken and this will serve 4.
Cook’s notes ~
- After braising in the covered pot, your chicken will most likely not be as golden brown as in the photo. I ran mine under the broiler for a minute or two to revive the color for the photo.
- If you can help it, don’t leave the currants out, they add so much to the dish. I found mine in the bulk bins at Whole Foods. You could substitute dried cranberries, or even, I guess, raisins, but I do recommend the currants!
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 whole chicken legs (drumstick and thigh attached)
- 10 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
- 1/4 tsp whole cloves (rounded)
- 1 long cinnamon stick, broken in 2 or 3 pieces
- 1 2/3 cups basmati rice
- 3 cups boiling water
- handful of parsley leaves, chopped
- handful of dill, chopped
- handful of cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup currants, plus more for garnish
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- a few currents and some of the fresh herbs for a final garnish
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan and saute the onions for at east 15 minutes, until they are soft and golden brown. Transfer the onions to a plate.
- Put the chicken legs in a bowl and cover with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, the cardamom pods, cloves, and cinnamon sticks, a little salt and fresh cracked pepper, and massage everything into the chicken.
- Heat the pan again and when it is good and hot, put the chicken and spices in, skin side down, to let it sear for 5 minutes on each side. Make sure you get all the oil and spices into the pan along with the chicken. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. (you don't have to remove all the spices)
- Add the rice and onions to the pan, along with the currants. Add a teaspoon of salt, lots of fresh cracked black pepper, and stir well.
- Put the chicken back in and squish it down into the rice. Pour the boiling water over everything, and cover the pan. Cook for about 30 minutes on low, until the rice has absorbed the water and is tender. Turn off the heat, raise the lid, cover the top of the pan with a clean dishtowel, put the top back on, and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Add the fresh herbs just before serving, and toss into the rice. Check the seasonings, garnish with a few more currants and herbs, and serve.
Recipe slightly adapted from Jerusalem