When people think of cooking with almonds they often turn automatically to cakes and sweet treats.
But almonds are also great in all kinds of savoury dishes, including pilafs, salads and stews.
This Chicken, Cranberry & Almond Pilaf has a Middle Eastern flavour about it. In this recipe, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and ginger are combined with whole almonds, cranberries, sultanas, lemon-garlic chicken and chicken-flavoured rice. It’s a dish that’s filling, healthy and nourishing all at once.
This dish can also be served at room temperature, making it a great choice for buffet entertaining or picnics. It’s even better the next day, when the flavours have mingled and deepened.
The whole almonds are fully cooked in the chicken stock so that they soft and easy to chew, while the flaked almonds provide a welcome textural contrast.
Enjoy it with a green salad for an easy but delicious meal.
- 500 grams chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic
- 4 Cardamom pods, crushed
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon dried ginger
- 4 cloves
- 2.5 cups long grain rice
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 50 grams dried cranberries
- 50 grams dried sultanas
- 100 grams whole almonds
- ½ teaspoon salt (depending on how salty the stock is)
- 20 grams flaked almonds
- Fresh coriander to garnish
- First, prepare the chicken. Leave the thighs whole but trim of fat and sinew.
- Place in a bowl and add the olive oil, garlic and lemon juice before seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Cover and leave to marinate.
- Next, preheat a large frypan (or wok) and then add olive oil.
- Add onions and garlic and cook, over medium heat, for a minute or two, stirring constantly.
- Add cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves and mix to combine.
- Add rice and stir so that the grains are coated evenly with the oily onion/garlic mixture. Continue cooking and stirring for two-three minutes.
- Add stock to your pan. If you are using hot stock the cooking time will be around 20 minutes. If you use cold stock the cooking time will be around 30 minutes. So use hot stock.
- Add cranberries, sultanas and almonds. Taste, and then add salt if necessary.
- Turn the heat down and cover with a lid. Cook for 20-30 minutes (depending on whether you used hot or cold stock).
- While the rice is cooking, cook the chicken.
- Heat up a griddle pan until smoking and then pour chicken and marinade mixture directly into the pan (you don’t need to use extra oil because the oil in the marinade will suffice).
- Cook over a medium-high heat until meat is starting to char nicely (probably four to five minutes) and the turn over.
- Cook for a further three to four minutes. Cooking times do vary according to your stove temperature so do make sure you cut open the thickest part of one thigh to make sure it is cooked all the way through.
- Turn off the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm until the rice is ready.
- To serve, use a large spoon to transfer the rice to a serving plate.
- Arrange the chicken attractively on top and then garnish with the flaked almonds and fresh coriander.