Healthy Persian Chicken Pilaf Recipe

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This easy-to-cook, healthy Persian chicken rice recipe is not just for taste alone, it packs a punch of health benefits with addition of varied health foods encapsulating cumin, pomegranate juice and dried fruits such as dried apricot, prunes and raisins.

Being a very good source of iron and manganese, cumin is recognized of its culinary herbs and therapeutic properties. Cumin add a nutty and penetrating peppery flavor with slight citrus overtones to this Persian chicken rice dish. Its unique flavor has made it an integral spice in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Pomegranate juice contains high levels of antioxidants that reduce blood pressure (particularly systolic pressure) and slowed down LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) oxidation.

This healthy diet also includes dried apricots as a good source of fiber intake. Besides being heart health foods, apricots also protect against cancer and promote good vision. The high beta-carotene content of apricots help to protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, which may help prevent heart disease.


2-3 tablespoon vegetable oil

700g / 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken pieces (breast and thighs), cut into 2.5cm / 1 inch pieces

2 medium onions, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

200g / 7 oz long-grain white rice

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 teaspoon saffron strands

salt and freshly ground black pepper

100ml / 3 1/2 fl oz pomegranate juice

900ml / 1 1/2 pints chicken stock

125g / 4 oz ready-to-eat dried apricots or prunes, halved

2 tablespoon raisins

2 tablespoon freshly chopped mint or parsley

pomegranate seeds, to garnish (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat. Cook the chicken pieces, in batches, until lightly browned. Return all the browned chicken to the saucepan.
  2. Add the onions to the saucepan, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to soften. Add the cumin and rice and stir to coat the rice. Cook for about 2 minutes until the rice is golden and translucent. Stir in the tomato puree and the saffron strands, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the pomegranate juice and stock and bring to the boil, stirring once or twice. Add the apricots or prunes and raisins and stir gently. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes until the chicken and rice are tender and the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Turn into a shallow serving dish and sprinkle with the chopped mint or parsley. Serve immediately, garnished with pomegranate seeds, if using.