Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice


This is one of Andrew's favorite meals. It's basically chicken and rice on steroids, where the chicken is moist, flavorful bone-in chicken thighs and the rice is a cardamom-spiced, caramelized onion-laced revelation. It comes from Sami Tamimi and Yottam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook. I've adapted it slightly from trial and error over the years since the rice was undercooked when both Andrew and I have made it as written in the recipe. 

Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice

(Slightly adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook)

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/4 pounds skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • Rounded 1/4 tsp whole cloves
  • 2 long cinnamon sticks, broken in two
  • 1 2/3 cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • 4 tbsp dried currants
  • 2 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dill leaves, chopped (I never have dill and always leave this out)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped (I hate cilantro and always leave this out)

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the sliced onions and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is a deep golden brown. 
  2. While the onion cooks, place the chicken in a large mixing bowl and season with 1 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Add the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon, and use your hands to mix everything together. 
  3. When the onions are done, transfer to a bowl and wipe the saute pan clean. Heat saute pan again over medium heat and add the chicken and spices. Sear the chicken for 5 minutes on each side and remove from the pan. The spices can hang out in the pan, but it's okay if they stick to the chicken as well. 
  4. When all the chicken is done searing, remove all but a thin film of the oil and chicken fat from the pan. Add the basmati rice, caramelized onion, 1 tsp salt, plenty of black pepper, and the dried currants. Stir well to combine and add the chicken back to the pan, pushing it down and nestling it into the rice.
  5. Pour the boiling water over the rice and chicken, cover the pan, and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes. 
  6. Remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, quickly place a clean tea towel over the pan, and seal again with the lid. Let rest for 15-20 minutes. 
  7. Uncover the pan and check the rice for doneness (if not all the way cooked, cover again and continue to rest). When rice is done, scatter the chopped herbs on top, and use a fork to stir them in while fluffing the rice. Taste for seasoning. 

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