Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Armenian Chicken

I suppose Armenian chicken should really be called chickenanian. This is simple, relatively fast, delicious and characteristically Armenian, a hot, red rich stew from that country of chilli lovers from the northernmost Mediterranean. Serve it with basmati rice or perhaps just with some crusty bread and a salad as the weather gets warmer.

You might raise an eyebrow at the quantity of garlic. But when you’ve finished, just get on with it, do as you’re told and roughly chop up ten largeish cloves to pop into the pan. I’m not going to try and tell you that you’ll smell of peaches when you’ve eaten this, because you won’t. If you’re sensible, you’ll quaff great draughts of massively ballsy red with it and end up smelling like an Anatolian farmer after a market-day celebration.

If you’ve never smelled an Anatolian farmer after a market-day celebration, you’re in for a real treat…

It’s odd that it had never struck me until I typed this recipe up for this post, but this recipe is actually remarkably similar to the Jordanian Tagine recipe I picked up from a chef in a small (and now sadly defunct) restaurant around the back of Amman’s First Circle. As usual with Middle Eastern food, what goes around comes around and my chef, presumably of Armenian or Circassian origin, had obviously modified this Armenian recipe with the addition of some North African spice and labelled it ‘tagine’. This recipe, of course, is nearer to a ‘real’ tagine. And the recipe below, of course, is now Armenian Chicken. And now that everything’s put back in its proper place, we shall proceed…


  • 1 kg chicken breast
  • 2 red chilis, deseeded & chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 50 ml hot water
  • A good pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried chilli
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Plenty black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

1 kg should be around four largeish chicken breasts. Put these in a bowl along with the salt and a load of pepper. Soak the saffron in the hot water for a few minutes and then put this along with the garlic and chilli in a small blender and whiz it. Add this mixture to the chicken, stir it all in well and leave to marinate for as long as you like: at least half an hour.

Drain the chicken of excess marinade and then, in a large covered frying pan, fry up the chicken, turning it until it colours and starts to brown all over. Add the rest of the marinade mixture and the ground coriander, oregano and chilli. Fry for two minutes, stirring to combine it all and then add the tomatoes. Cook for a further two minutes to heat the mixture and then turn the heat to low, cover and leave to cook away for another ten minutes or so. Add the chickpeas and the lemon juice, stir in and cook for a further five minutes and then cook, uncovered, on a higher heat for five minutes to bubble and reduce a little.

1 comment:

DXBluey said...

Ok - followed the receipe exactly... except forgot the saffron.

Also - no indication of the type of chilli to use, or indeed the dried chilli. So used 4 (yeah was in a spicy mood) "scuds" or Birds Eye type red chillis - Just chopped up with seeds intact and blended them with the 10 (TEN!) cloves of garlic and 50ml water. Had to add some more water to make a reasonable marinade...

Also - used Kashmiri chilli powder at the second stage - primarily as I was in a spicy mood, but also to add to the over all flavour / red aspect of the dish... though chilli flakes wouldn't have the same rounded effect...

Did I like it? YES - Love it and yes it was similar to the Jordanian "Tagine" - but perhaps better I thought... really liked it and will be playing more with it soon...