Ottolenghi’s Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice

Ottolenghi's Chicken with caramelized Onions and Cardamom Rice

Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice is a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, and  probably the most requested meal in my house ~ it’s a comforting chicken dinner and a must-make!

Chicken with caramelized onions and cardamom rice on a wooden table

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.

a plate of chicken with cardamom rice

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.

Chicken with caramelized onions and cardamom rice on a platter with currants

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.

chicken with spices

making chicken with cardamom rice

Chicken with caramelized onions and cardamom rice on a silver platter

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!
Ottolenghi's Chicken with caramelized Onions and Cardamom Rice
3.42 from 48 votes

Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice

Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice is a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, and  probably the most requested meal in my house ~ it's a comforting chicken dinner and a must-make!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Yield 2 -4 servings
Author Sue Moran


  • 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.

Cook's notes

The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.



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  • Reply
    Donna Yerganian
    November 17, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    I’ve always wanted to try an Ottolenghi recipe. I’d like to try this one for a dinner party. The only ingredient that i feel can be overwhelming to some is the whole cloves. Thoughts?

    • Reply
      November 17, 2019 at 9:00 pm

      Absolutely feel free to use ground cloves, Donna, it wont make a difference. This recipe is lovely either way.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Hi – I’d really like to try this dish but want to substitute the white for brown basmati. How mush water do you think I should add?

    • Reply
      February 6, 2019 at 7:32 pm

      I think you’ll be safe with the same amount of water Tj.

  • Reply
    October 19, 2015 at 2:04 am

    I don’t see a measurement for the currants that cook with the rice, only the “few” for the garnish.

    • Reply
      February 6, 2019 at 7:55 pm

      It’s 1/4 cup in the recipe Bonnie, you can add a few more if you love that touch of sweetness.

  • Reply
    Susan Perry
    August 29, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Love your recipes, so flavorful and “possible”! (I think for this recipe we want currants not currents :-))

  • Reply
    August 27, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    How much boiling water? I’m confused on this part.

    • Reply
      August 27, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      3 cups Elizabeth.

  • Reply
    [email protected] is How I Cook
    June 13, 2013 at 3:14 am

    I love the Jerusalem cookbook, too and will definitely try this one. Slowly, but surely, I’ll try them all, too!

  • Reply
    Magnolia Verandah
    June 12, 2013 at 6:56 am

    Addicted to cardamon so this is a hit with me.

  • Reply
    shannon weber
    June 12, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    you need to come and make me dinner. i will make dessert. because i am SO BAD at making things like this, but i super want to. chicken and cardamom makes me want to sing. 🙂

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    June 11, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    I had a feeling, before I even read your post that this was going to be an Ottolenghi recipe! It looks amazing, pinned! (even though I have the book, I LOVE your photos!)

  • Reply
    Inside a British Mum's Kitchen
    June 11, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    Great post! I love his book too – your pictures are wonderful – I can almost smell it cooking!
    Mary x

  • Reply
    June 11, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    Plain rice doesn’t do much for me, but when you add a few flavorful ingredients, I can gobble it up. I see some serious gobbling in the near future.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Oh this looks delicious!

  • Reply
    June 11, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    This is such a flavourful dish Sue. Chicken and rice is the perfect combination for a cloudy day like today.

  • Reply
    Hungry Dog
    June 11, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I love this kind of dish–chicken and rice in its many forms is one of the most comforting things in the world! And of course I love that you incorporated cardamom…

  • Reply
    Bourbon & Pearls
    June 11, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    That looks amazing, if you promise it’s easy, I’ll give it a go.

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