Persian Saffron Chicken

Persian Saffron Chicken

Juicy chicken drumsticks simmered in an aromatic spiced saffron sauce and served piled on top of fragrant basmati rice. This dish can be an elevated weeknight dinner, or makes for a delicious weekend delicacy.

TIME: 1 hour


  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 8 Rangitikei Chicken Drumsticks
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • Pinch chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 ½ cups chicken stock

To serve:

  • 1/3 cup natural yoghurt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pistachio nuts
  • Small handful fresh mint leaves
  • 3 cups cooked basmati rice, or jeweled turmeric rice*


Place the saffron threads in a small bowl and use the back of a spoon to crush them slightly. Add a ¼ cup warm water and stir together. Let the saffron sit to “bloom” for about 10 minutes until the water has turned bright orange/yellow.

Add a splash of oil to a large frypan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken drumsticks well with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the flour. Sear in the pan until golden brown on all sides. Remove and set aside on a plate.

In the same pan, melt the butter then sauté the onion and garlic over a medium-low heat until soft and translucent. Add the spices and continue cooking for a few minutes until toasted & fragrant. Add the tomato paste to the pan and cook for a minute until it turns dark red. Pour in the chicken stock and mix to combine.

Carefully add the chicken drumsticks to the liquid mixture in the pan, and pour over the bloomed saffron water.  Let simmer for 30 – 40 minutes – until the chicken is tender and cooked through and the sauce has reduced & thickened.

Before serving, drizzle over the yoghurt and sprinkle over the chopped pistachios & fresh mint leaves. Serve with a side of basmati rice to soak up all the delicious sauce.

*For jeweled turmeric rice, try pouring some “bloomed” saffron water over half of your cooked rice. When you’re ready to serve, toss the rice together with chopped pistachios, fresh herbs and dried barberries or pomegranate seeds.

Free Range Chicken used in this Recipe

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