Chicken with Barberries, Yogurt and Orange Peel

Known in Farsi as khoresht-e-mast, this beautifully balanced dish sounds and looks exotic, but uses ingredients that are readily available in much of the United States. The dried barberries pose the biggest challenge and can be found in most Middle Eastern grocers or online. Before you use them, they’ll need soaking in a bowl of warm water for ten minutes, then draining. They have a unique, authentically Persian tartness and are worth tracking down, but if you really struggle to find them, you could try using cranberries, currants or sour cherries. This is Pury Sharifi’s family recipe.
By | July 03, 2015


Serves 4
1. Strain the yogurt through a muslin bag for several hours, preferably overnight—you can do this by hanging it from the tap over your kitchen sink.

2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and fry the onions, sprinkled with a pinch of salt, over medium heat, until golden—10–15 minutes. Add the chicken to the onions
and fry for 2–3 minutes, in a single layer or in batches, to seal the meat. Half cover the meat with water and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan and simmer for 30–40 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, peel the oranges with a potato peeler, taking care not to include any pith with the peel. Cut the peel into matchstick-sized strips. In a small pan of boiling water, simmer the strips for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

4. Grind the saffron in a mortar and pestle and soak it in 4 tablespoons of warm water for 10 minutes. Add the saffron water, orange peel and barberries to the
chicken, turning the meat from time to time. Test for seasoning and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces and keep them warm. Keep the sauce on a
gentle simmer, add the strained yogurt and stir until it is dissolved. Then return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them over in the sauce for 2 minutes to heat
through. Place the chicken in a serving dish, pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with the sliced almonds. Serve with chelow rice or your rice of choice.


About this recipe

I learned this recipe from Pury Sharifi, a north-London based Persian home cook. We were introduced by Yotam Ottolenghi. I’d never tasted anything like it before. Personally, I’m a yogurt fiend and will find any excuse to use it, particularly in savory creations. Here, the ideal balance of creaminess and sourness in Greek Yogurt complements the round, sweet flavors of the chicken and orange to staggering effect. Don’t worry if it curdles a bit.




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  • 7 heaping tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely sliced
  • sea salt
  • 4 chicken legs (drum sticks and thighs separated and skin removed)
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 large oranges
  • big pinch saffron
  • 1½ tbsp dried barberries, rehydrated (see above)
  • 2 tbsp sliced almonds to garnish (optional), toasted
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