Persian Turmeric Chicken with Eggplant and Rice

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On a cold Fall evening, nothing tastes better than a piping hot bowl of this fantastic combo:  turmeric chicken, savory broth, eggplant, rice with dill and black-eyed peas.  The aroma of this dish wafting through the house cannot be beat!

First, a disclaimer:  I am not Persian!   After watching a Persian friend make this dish many years ago,  I set out to make it myself, based on my (not so photographic) memory.

I have been making this recipe for over 20 years, but it has taken on a lot of my preferences and shortcuts.  If you’re looking for authentic Persian cuisine take a look at my persian kitchen.  There are so many different Persian recipes for rice and chicken, all of them delicious.

In the meantime, give this healthy recipe a try.  The chicken dish is easy to make ( in a nutshell, you season and brown a chicken, cover it with water, and leave it cook a while) and tastes AMAZING.  The “green” rice (so named because of the dill – my picture above didn’t capture the green for some reason) is a little trickier, but so YUMMY it is worth the effort.

I don’t have nutrition info for one serving of this dish (gave up trying to calculate it), but generally speaking chicken, eggplant and rice are all good choices for those on a low potassium diet (skip the legumes).  If you are watching your carbs take just a spoonful of the rice.  (See if you can restrain yourself from taking more, I cannot.  In fact, I ate this so fast I forgot to take a picture of the single serving! 🙂 )

CHICKEN AND EGGPLANT – INGREDIENTS

1-2 tblsp olive or other healthy oil
1 whole 5 lb. chicken, cut up into equal-sized pieces (including back)
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
8 cups water
1 lemon, juiced and zested
salt and pepper
1 large eggplant, diced into 1/2″ pieces

GREEN RICE – INGREDIENTS

2 cups basmati or other long grain rice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
spray oil
1 -2 (15 oz) cans black eyed peas or lima beans, drained
1 cup fresh dill

DIRECTIONS

Heat 1 tblsp oil in a large, deep pot over medium high heat. Sprinkle skin side of chicken pieces with turmeric powder, salt and pepper.

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Brown onion and garlic in oil and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 min; remove from pot and set aside in a bowl.

Lay as many chicken pieces as will fit, skin-side down, into hot pan. Salt and pepper the exposed side of the chicken. Cook until brown, 4-5 minutes. Flip and brown other side. Remove chicken pieces to a bowl and continue until all pieces have been browned (add more oil to the pot if needed).

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Return chicken, onion and garlic to pot and reduce heat to medium. Fill pot with 8 cups of water, or enough until chicken is covered by about a half inch of water. Heat pot over medium-high heat until water comes to a boil. Add lemon juice and zest and reduce heat to medium low; simmer for 30 minutes.

While chicken simmers, pour rice into a medium saucepan and fill with water until water is about 1/2″ above rice. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and stir until turmeric is completely dissolved into water. Bring to boil over medium high heat.  Give it a stir and cook until rice is “al dente,” about 8 minutes (check by tasting; rice should have a firm center). Remove from heat; dump rice into a calendar and rinse to stop cooking process.
Return rice to saucepan (or a bowl) and mix in dill and 1 or 2 cans of black eyed peas or lima beans, according to your preference ( I like a lot of black eyed peas!). Heavily coat a large saucepan with spray oil and heat over medium heat until hot. Spoon the rice mixture into the hot, oiled saucepan. Cover saucepan, reduce heat to medium low (more low than medium), and cook until rice is completely steamed through and bottom is browned, about 20 minutes. (Periodically check the rice by lifting the lid and smelling/looking … if it smells like it’s burning or looks like it’s drying out, reduce the heat.)  Again, the best way to check if it’s done is to taste it.

While rice steams, cut eggplant into bite-sized pieces and add to simmering chicken. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until eggplant is soft. Once eggplant is soft and chicken has been simmering a total of at least 40 minutes, turn off heat and put the lid on, allowing chicken and eggplant to rest and flavors to deepen. (This dish is better the second day!)

To serve, spoon the rice into large, flat pasta bowls (make sure to dip your spoon all the way to the bottom of the saucepan to get to the crunchy, browned rice at the bottom). Top rice with chicken, eggplant and broth. (Discard chicken backs.)

Serve with slices of warm pita bread for extra yumminess!

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