Spiced crusted rice with Moroccan rice-coated chicken and preserved lemon salad


For the crusted rice
  • 300g/11oz basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp sumac (available in Middle Eastern supermarkets)
  • 50g/2oz unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 20g/¾oz currants
  • 4 tbsp flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • large pinch saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp water
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 50g/2oz butter, melted
For the chicken
  • 75g/3oz basmati rice, soaked in water
  • 3 tsp baharat spice blend (available in Middle Eastern stores)
  • 4 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, cut into strips
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
For the salad
  • 3 preserved lemons, rinsed, seeds and pulp removed, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp mint, roughly chopped
  • ½ cucumber, seeded and roughly chopped
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preparation method

  1. For the crusted rice, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the rice and cook for four minutes. Drain the rice and refresh in cold water.

  2. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan until hot, add the oil, onion and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes.

  3. Add the cinnamon, sumac, pistachios, currants and parsley and mix well.

  4. Place the melted butter into a pan with a lid and sprinkle over enough semi-cooked rice to cover the bottom. Add the onion mixture to the remaining rice and stir to combine.

  5. Add the saffron and its soaking water, the lemon juice, and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well.

  6. Add the rice mixture to the pan with the butter and rice, piling it up slightly towards the centre. Cover with a damp tea towel, and seal with the pan lid.

  7. Place the pan over a very low heat and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the rice is tender and a golden-brown crust has formed on the bottom of the rice. Take care to keep the heat very low as the rice will burn very easily.

  8. For the chicken, place the rice into a frying pan and place over a medium heat. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until just beginning to turn golden-brown.

  9. Transfer the rice to a pestle and mortar and add the baharat spices. Crush to a powder.

  10. Season the chicken thighs with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then dip into the beaten egg to coat completely. Dip the egg-coated chicken into the spice and rice mixture to coat completely.

  11. Heat a frying pan until hot, then add the olive oil and chicken. Cook on both sides for 4-5 minutes, until golden-brown all over and cooked through. The juices will run clear when the chicken is pierced in the thickest part with a skewer.

  12. For the salad, place all the salad ingredients into a bowl and mix together well.

  13. To serve, place a plate over the top of the crusted rice pan and invert to tip the rice out. The crusted base should come with the rice.

  14. Spoon equal portions of the crusted rice onto each plate, making sure there are a few crisp crusty pieces over the top of each. Top each with equal portions of the chicken and serve with a spoonful of salad alongside.

James Martin recipes from Saturday Kitchen

Less than 30 mins preparation time

30 mins to 1 hour cooking time

Serves 4

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