This quick and delicious Middle Eastern chicken and rice recipe is loaded with flavors, from the juicy and tender chicken thighs to the well-seasoned basmati rice and vegetables. And your dinner will be ready in over 30 minutes!
What makes this dish truly special is its simplicity. Everything cooks in one pot, making it perfect for those busy days when I want a hearty meal but don’t want to spend hours by the stove. Plus, it’s an excellent way to minimize dishwashing!
This chicken and rice is my ultimate comfort food, making it the perfect main dish for dinner parties, with a side salad and yogurt sauce.
There are numerous reasons to love this dish:
- Flavorful: The combination of juicy, tender chicken thighs with well-seasoned rice and vegetables results in a taste sensation that’s hard to resist.
- Quick and Easy: This meal is prepared in a short amount of time, making it perfect for busy weeknight dinners.
- One-Pot Meal: Everything is cooked in one pot, which means less cleanup afterward.
- Nutritious and Healthy:It’s packed with protein from the chicken and various nutrients from the vegetables.
- Versatile: You can easily substitute different vegetables or spices based on what you have on hand or your personal preferences.
Middle Eastern Chicken and Rice Ingredients:
I will share some tips and recipe variations that will make your dish different, healthy, and taste delicious.
- Chicken: I used boneless skinless thighs because it remains juicy and tender. (you can use chicken breasts or whole chicken instead).
- Rice: I prefer using a premium quality Basmati rice. (Basmati Rice is long grain rice, available in white and brown rice). Also, Jasmine rice or short grain rice works too (But keep in mind that the liquid-to-rice ratio depends on the type of rice used, so make sure to read the instructions on the rice’s bag before using)
- Vegetables: It’s optional, but I like to add some vegetables to make the dish a nutritious meal, like onions, carrots, and peas.
- Garlic: Adds a pleasant fragrance.
- Extra virgin olive oil: to sear the chicken and vegetables.
- Spices: A blend of spices is required to get that Middle Eastern dish’s flavors, such as ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, seven spices, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Also, I added cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and cardamom pods.
- Broth: I used low-sodium chicken broth, but feel free to use vegetable broth or bouillon instead. The ratio of basmati rice to broth is 1:1.5.
- Lemon juice: Adds a tangy taste that matches the combination of the dish.
- Salt and black pepper to taste.
- Garnish: fresh chopped parsley and toasted pine nuts (optional).
Step by step on how to make Middle Eastern Chicken and Rice?
The best part about this recipe is that it is a one-pan dinner, guaranteed that the whole family will love it! Here are the steps on how to make this rice dinner:
Step 1. Soak and rinse the rice:
- Start with soaking the rice for 10-15 minutes, then rinse a couple of times until the water is clear; this helps to remove the excess starch and avoid sticky, gluey rice, and that allows an even cooking of the rice grains (on the inside & outside) resulting into fluffy rice. Then drain well.
Step 2. Sear the chicken:
- First, pat dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel and cut them into large chunks.
- In a small bowl, add the salt, black pepper, ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, seven spices, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Coat the chicken with the spice mix and rub with your hands.
- Heat the olive oil in a large deep pot over medium-high heat; sear the chicken thighs on both sides until golden brown, then transfer them to a large plate and set aside.
Step 3. Toss the Vegetables and Rice:
- Using the same pot, add the chopped onions, minced garlic, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cardamom pods and cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until fragrant.
- Add the frozen peas and carrots and stir for 2 more minutes.
- Toss the rinsed basmati rice and stir until well-coated and fragrant rice.
Step 4. Add the chicken, broth and Cook:
- Add back the chicken thighs on top of the rice.
- Pour the broth, lemon juice and adjust the salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes until the rice and chicken are cooked.
- Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and toasted pine nuts.
- Rinsing the rice before cooking is essential as it helps remove the extra starch, preventing the rice from becoming gluey.
- Different brands of basmati rice may require varying amounts of water or stock. It’s safer to start with less liquid to avoid overly soft or mushy rice. Remember that it’s easier to add more liquid if needed, but it’s difficult to remove excess. If the rice is too dry, add ¼ cup of liquid.
What to serve with Middle Eastern Chicken and Rice?
Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.