Hands Down, the best of Chicken Pilaf is the Arab-styled Chicken Pilaf!!! Layers of flavour, Carbs for days and just the right amount of sweetness thanks to the raisins. It’s truly a DELICIOUS experience.
Middle Eastern Chicken Pilaf
BEST CHICKEN AND RICE RECIPE!
Chicken pilaf is a staple for many, but when it was new to me years ago, it immediately became a weekly favourite that has me excitedly hauling out multiple pieces of cookware every weekend. If I’m washing multiple dishes just to cook a recipe, you know I am hooked.
Rich and savoury red pepper and tomato flavour, juicy chicken, roasty potatoes, fragrant yellow rice, lots of carrots and spices, plenty of raisins, and (at least in my kitchen) a handful of pickled pepper and green olives⏤it is a complete 180 from the basic chicken and rice that many of us grew up with, and it is wonderful in its ability to be both comforting and also savoury and sweet all in one complex bite.
I made it three times in three back-to-back weeks, so yes, it is for sure on the recipes-that-need-to-be-made-more-than-once list. And they why my friends, I write to you telling you this is THE BEST CHICKEN AND RICE RECIPE.
What You’ll Need to Make the Best Chicken Pilaf
- Chicken: Any part of the chicken will do! Legs, thighs, and whole chicken all will be great with this dish. However, if you choose a chicken breast, it best to use bone-in and skin-on cut, or you’ll have to tweak the recipe a bit for the boneless skinless chicken breast. But don’t worry, I’ll include the how-to in the FAQ.
- Potatoes: I know, potatoes and rice? If you’re not from an Arab country, you’ll probably find this a strange combo. But it’s prevalent in the Mediterranean. Turkish, Greeks, Levantine, and North Africans’ happily add potatoes to everything and eat it with bread, rice, couscous and pasta.
- Rice: I prefer using a parboiled basmati rice variety called Sella. It’s not a brand but more like a type of rice.
- Carrots & Raisins: Use regular orange carrots and sultan raisins. You can use golden raisin if that’s all you have. I wouldn’t use purple carrots because the colour doesn’t stay vibrant.
- Spices; cumin, turmeric, ginger, baharat, cardamon
- Marinade Ingredients: Turkish Pepper Paste (Also known as Biber Salçasi) Tomato paste, olive oil, garlic, lemon, and cumin
Quick & Easy Steps to Make this Recipe
- Make your Marinade. Divide the marinade coat the chicken and potatoes with the marinade. It’s best to marinate the two in different bowls.
- Bake your Chicken. Heat your oven to 425ºC. Bake your chicken for 20 minutes.
- Remove the chicken pan drippings. This step might seem strange, but it’s the best way to add a chicken stock flavour without using a bouillon cube.
- Add potatoes to the chicken. Once you’ve removed the pan dripping from the chicken, add the potatoes and continue cooking until the potatoes are soft and roasty.
- Prepare Rice. Lightly saute the onions until golden. Use a light hand when adding the oil & ghee mixture oil when sauteing onions. You’ll be adding the chicken pan drippings to the rice, and that has all the oil from the chicken. Adding too much additional oil to the rice can cause the recipe to be too oily. Once the onions are golden, add the spices and garlic. Stir and allow the spices to bloom⏤for 3 minutes. Add the rice, water, chicken pan drippings. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat⏤cook for 20 minutes, remove from heat and allow the rice to finish cooking with residual heat.
- Prepare Carrot mixture. Place the carrots in a frying pan, add the spices and sugar. Saute until the carrots are softened. Remove from heat, add the raisin and cover the pan until ready to use.
- Optional step. If you choose to use nuts such as almonds, cashews, or pinenuts, add them to the frying pan you’re going to use for the carrot mixture before cooking the carrots. Once the nuts are golden, remove them from the pan and add the carrots.
Frequently Asked Questions
Turkish red pepper paste is also known as Biber Salçasi. It’s a famous red pepper paste that’s very popular in Turkish cooking. It’s made with mildly spicy red peppers that have been deseeded, and then it’s grounded into a paste and mixed with salt. The pepper paste is sundried until it achieves a thick paste consistency⏤ don’t worry, it’s not too spicy! Just very mild heat and adds nice sweet notes to foods.
You can find Biber Salçasi online, in a well-stocked grocery store or a Middle Eastern food store.
Depending on where you live and how diverse the ethenic community is in your city will indicate whether or not you’ll be able to find this at your local stores. So, you may have to order this product online, but don’t worry, I’ve included a link to the recipe card.
Yes, just use a bouillon cube instead. However, this will change the ratio of the baked chicken and potatoes. You’ll a more saucy look, but don’t it will taste great on the rice.
Of course! The marinade can be made a week ahead of time and stored in the fridge. The chicken can be marinated the night before, and the potatoes too. You can also cut the carrots ahead of time and store them in water to keep them crisp.
Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. I recommend storing the rice and carrots separately from the chicken and potatoes.
More Middle Eastern Rice Dinner to Try
- 4 chicken thighs
- 3 medium potatoes, peeled,
Red Pepper marinade
- 1 tablespoon Biber salçası (Turkish red pepper paste)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
- 11/2 teaspoon cumin, ground
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 cup Sella Basmati Rice, washed
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ghee
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin, ground,
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamon, ground
- 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger, ground
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon baharat (*see notes)
- 1/4 fresh lemon slice
Carrot and raisin topping
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large carrots, julienne
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon baharat*
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt and fresh pepper
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/8 cup almond, slivered (optional)
- Make the marinade. In a small bowl, add all of the marinade ingredients. Mix. Reserve 2-3 tablespoons of marinade for the potatoes.
- Marinade the chicken. Place a few spoonfuls of the marinade onto the chicken. Rub the marinade all over the chicken, even under the skin. It's best to let the chicken rest in the marinade for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge. If you're short on time you can skip this step.
- Bake chicken. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Place the chicken into a baking dish. Cover with foil then place the chicken into the oven⏤set timer for 25 minutes.
- Prepare potatoes. Cut the potatoes into wedges or cubes. Each potato should give you 6 wedges or 8 cubes. Place the potatoes into a bowl then add the reserved marinade to the potatoes. mix and set aside.
- Remove chicken pan drippings. After 25 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven. Lift the corner of the foil and leave the rest of the foil in tack. Carefully pour out the stock from the pan into a large measure cup until you have about 1/2 cup of stock from the chicken juices.
- Bake the potatoes. Remove the foil from the chicken. Add the marinated potatoes to the pan with the chicken. Reseal the foil and continue cooking. Cover the chicken and potatoes with foil and continue baking for 30 minutes.
- Start the rice. Once you've placed the potatoes in the oven, then start the rice. Heat a 3 qt pot over medium-high heat add the olive oil, ghee and onions. Cook the onions until golden, then add the spices. Stir. Add the rice, then stir until the spices coat the rice. Pour 2½ cups of water over the rice and the chicken pan drippings and bring to a light simmer. Cover the rice and cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the rice from heat, add cloth over the pot, and rest for 10 minutes.
- Toast almonds if using. Heat a large non-stick frying pan on medium-high heat add oil and the almond slivers. Toast almonds until golden. Once the Almonds are toasted, remove them from the oil and set them aside.
- Prepare the carrot topping. Add the carrots and spices to the pan used for the almonds. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, then add the raisins and continue cooking for 3 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat, add the almond into the pan and set aside until ready to use.
- Assemble the pilaf and chicken. Empty the rice onto a large platter, then add chicken onto the middle of the rice. Place the potatoes in a circular pattern around the chicken. Scoop the carrot mixture and place it on top of the chicken and potatoes.
You can use my recipe for Baharat or mix 1/2 teaspoon of paprika and 1/4 teaspoon 7 spice instead.
Adapted from Yummy Touch
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 792Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 34gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 1088mgCarbohydrates: 64gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 34g