Crispy, fall apart chicken on a bed of flavorful rice with cashews and raisins. This Middle eastern dinner is a definite favorite for my husband and I (who met in the middle east as Christian Aide workers). This meal is perfectly completed with fresh, homemade Na-an!
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Middle Eastern Chicken and Rice Dinner
- Large non-stick skillet (linked below)
- 3 quart sauce pan (linked below)
- tongs (linked below)
- 5 large chicken thighs (bone in)
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
Chicken seasoning blend:
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dried dill (optional)
- 1/3 teaspoon yellow curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon paprika
Cashew raisin rice:
- 1 cup long grain jasmine rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 3/4 cup yellow raisins (golden raisins)
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- Bring water and salt to a boil. Add chicken thighs and lower heat to medium-low. Partially cover the chicken and allow to simmer for 50-60 minutes. Once chicken is cooked through, remove from heat, then strain and reserve 2 1/2 cups of the broth for later.
- Fry rice in one tablespoon of olive oil, until it is opaque and starting to brown. Stir in seasonings and raisins, then add reserved chicken broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and allow the rice to simmer for 15 minutes uncovered. After 15 minutes, stir in the cashews and cover the rice, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to cook for another 15 minutes until rice is soft and has soaked up all the water.
- While the rice is cooking, heat another tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet or wok, then add the chicken and season with 1/2 of the seasoning mixture. Fry for a few minutes until nicely browned, then flip with tongs and season with the rest of the seasoning mixture. Fry for a minute or two more, then remove from heat.
- Fluff cooked rice with a fork, then transfer to a plate or serving platter. Spread the rice out to create a flat surface and then top with cooked chicken. Optional: Serve with na-an, fresh veggies, and plain yogurt!
Equipment for the chicken and rice dinner:
- Large non-stick skillet I definitely prefer a large non-stick skillet for frying the chicken, the chicken turns out so nice and golden and cleanup is also so much easier!
- 5 Quart Sauce pan A large sauce pan is needed for cooking the chicken. Give the chicken lots of extra space in the saucepan because it can boil over quickly if left unattended or too hot.
- Tongs I find using a tongs to flip the frying chicken to be so much easier than using a spatula or large spoon.
Be sure to keep an eye on the chicken while cooking as it can boil over if it gets too hot.
I prefer to use long grain rice in this recipe, but short grain or brown rice can also be used.
While teaching English to refugees in Northern Iraq, my students would beg us to come visit their families. When we got the chance to visit their homes, they ushered us into their unfinished concrete homes (or tents in some cases) and seated us on foam mats on the floor. They would then proceed to bring us steaming cups of their “chai”, a sugary black tea they served in tiny, delicate glass cups. If it was around lunch or dinner time they would practically refuse to allow us to leave unless we ate a meal with them. The meals were always simple and delicious and most often resembled the above recipe or sometimes we would be served lamb or a goats head (with the teeth still attached). We crossed our legs (to do otherwise was very rude), and ate whatever they served us, whether it was sour yoghurt milk or chocolate treats, because we appreciated the effort they spent to accommodate us and make us feel welcome even after losing everything in the war.