Chicken with dates, saffron and freekeh

This is a wonderfully aromatic way to cook chicken–and in one pot to boot! Freekeh, which lends the dish a nice smokiness, can be a bit hard to find, but it’s important to the dish – you can order it on Amazon or find it in specialty grocery stores. Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi.


  • 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 t paprika
  • ¾ t ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into 1″ wedges
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • 3 wide strips orange peel
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 10 cardamom pods, lightly bruised
  • 250 g freekeh, rinsed
  • 6 medjool dates, quartered lengthways and pits removed
  • ¼ t saffron threads
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • Handful flaked almonds, toasted
  • Handful mint leaves, roughly shredded
  • 180 g Greek yoghurt, to serve


  1. Put the chicken in a large bowl, sprinkle over the paprika, ground cinnamon, 1 t salt and plenty of pepper. Rub the seasoning all over the chicken, then put in the fridge to marinate for 1.5 hours.
  2. Heat the oil in a large lidded saute pan on a medium-high flame, then fry the chicken for 10 minutes, turning them halfway through, until the skin is dark golden-brown.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a plate and discard all but two tablespoons of the oil in the pan.
  4. Turn up the heat to high, then fry the onions for six to seven minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly charred.
  5. Turn down the heat to medium, add the cinnamon, orange, bay and cardamom, and fry for three minutes, until the onions are soft and the spices are aromatic.
  6. Stir in the freekeh, dates, saffron, stock, 100 ml water and 1/2 t of salt.
  7. Then return the chicken to the pan so it sinks into the freekeh a little but is not entirely submerged.
  8. Once the pot comes to a boil, turn down the heat to medium-low, and cover.
  9. Simmer for 35 minutes, until the freekeh and chicken are cooked.
  10. Raise the heat, remove the lid and leave to bubble away for two to three minutes more, until the grain has absorbed most of the liquid.
  11. Take the pot off the heat, sprinkle with the almonds and mint, and serve at once with yogurt as a garnish.

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