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Persian Chicken with Chelow and Yogurt Sauce

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 60
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 4 -6
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Persian


Persian Chicken with Baharat Spice served with saffron yogurt crusted Chelow Rice and cucumber yogurt sauce.


Persian Chicken

  1. 46 Chicken thighs, bone in, skin on.
  2. 2 Tablespoons Baharat Spice Blend ( see below)
  3. Salt to taste ( 1 teaspoon per pound)
  4. 2 T olive oil

Baharat Spice Blend

  1. 1 T cumin seeds (or 1 T ground)
  2. 1 T coriander seeds ( or 1 T ground)
  3. 1 T whole peppercorns ( or 2 tsp)
  4. ½ of one whole nutmeg ( or 1 tsp ground)
  5. 10 whole unpeeled cardamon pod or (½ tsp ground)
  6. 2 inches piece cinnamon stick (or 2 tsp ground)
  7. ½ tsp ground allspice
  8. 8 whole cloves (or 1 tsp ground)
  9. ¼ of a black lemon (optional)
  10. 1 star anise ( optional)

Chelow with Saffron Yogurt Crust (serves 6-8)

  • 2 Cups long-grain white basmati rice
  • 10 Cup  Water and 1 tablespoon salt for par-boiling (you will drain this)
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 pinch saffron ( 1020 threads) or ½ tsp tumeric powder
  • ¼ cup  plain yogurt
  • 1 egg ( optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce ( or make this Tzatziki Sauce!) 

  • 1 Cup plain thick Greek yogurt
  • 2 small Persian cucumbers cut lengthwise, then thinly sliced ( or 1 C English cucumber) Skin ok.
  • 23 T chopped fresh mint, dill, Italian parsley or cilantro ( or a combination is nice)
  • 12 T lemon juice
  • 12 minced garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp kosher salt -or salt to taste.
  • pepper to taste, white pepper is a nice touch.
  • pinch of cayenne or squirt of sriracha sauce.


  1. Make Barahat Spice: Toast all whole seeds in a dry skillet, then pulse all in a spice grinder until ground. If using ground just stir toegher.
  2. Pre heat oven to 400F
  3. Sprinkle both sides of chicken generously with kosher salt. Rub in a generous amount (¾ teaspoon each) of Baharat Spice on both sides of each piece of chicken. If you have time to do this 30 minutes ahead, before cooking, even better!
  4. Heat oil in a large oven proof skillet over medium high heat. Sear chicken, in hot oil, skin side down for 3- 4 minutes, until golden and crispy. Turn over and sear other side, turning heat down to medium. Sear another 3-4 minutes. Place the skillet in the middle of the oven, uncovered, and baked until cooked through, about 15- 20 minutes or until internal temp reaches 170 F ( for thighs) and juices run clear. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

To make Chelow:

  1. Parboil rinsed rice in 10 cups of salted water, and cook uncovered, like pasta, until grains have opened up- are just tender, yet still al dente, about 7-8 minutes, or longer if using brown rice. Drain.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix saffron threads with 3 Tablespoons boiling water ( just borrow from the boiling rice ). Set aside 5 minutes. Add the yogurt, generous pinch salt and 1 egg (optional) and stir.
  3. Add about 1 Cup of the parboiled rice into the bowl with the Yogurt Saffron mixture.
  4. Line the bottom of 8-10 inch diameter deep sauté pan or pot (that has a tight-fitting lid) with a circle of parchment paper. Place on the stove over Med heat. Add butter, olive oil over the parchment. When the butter has melted, swirl it around to coat parchment, add the yogurt saffron rice mixture in an even layer over the parchment. Spoon in the rest of the rice, gently building a pyramid ( don’t just dump it in- or will lose its light quality).
  5. At this point- you could also layer in fresh dill, mint, or parsley, slivered almonds, pine nuts or even golden raisins, or dried apricots, cumin seed or coriander seed.)
  6. With the end of a wooden spoon poke 5-6 steam holes down through the rice.
  7. Cover pot with a thin kitchen towel then place the lid over the towel and fold the corners up and over the lid, so the edges don’t catch on fire. See photo.
  8. Turn heat to Med-high for 2-3 minutes then turn to low heat for 30 minutes. Don’t be tempted to uncover.
  9. After 30 minutes, either fill the sink or large bowl with cold water deep enough to submerge the pot 2-3 inches up the sides.  Place the rice pot in the cold water, to shock it, to help it release from the sides… for a few minutes. Remove lid and towel. You could also run a spatula around the edges.
  10. Place a large platter or plate over the top of the pot, and invert the whole thing, shaking a little and knocking the bottom of the pot so it releases. Hopefully, it comes out in one piece. If it sticks, using a sharp metal spatula, scrape and coax it out, piecing it together over the rice. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, like parsley or mint, or dill. Serve immediately!

To make Cucumber Yogurt Sauce, stir everything together in a medium bowl.


The baharat spice and yogurt sauce can be made ahead.


  • Calories: 495

Keywords: Persian chicken recipe, baharat chicken recipe, baharat spice recipe, chelow recipe, tahdig recipe, Iranian chicken, persian chicken thighs,

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