My kids have spoken, and they’ve declared by unanimous vote that this week’s featured recipe should be Turmeric Chicken with Sumac and Lime from The New Persian Kitchen. (Credit for the above photo goes to photographer Sara Remington, author Louisa Shafia, and Ten Speed Press, not me.) This is the same author who brought us those amazing beet burgers back in April, so if you haven’t had a chance to pick up this cookbook, I suggest you do so.
For this recipe, chicken pieces are flavored with turmeric and braised in a garlic-scented broth, finished with lime juice and a sprinkling of sumac, and served over rice. The dish sounds fairly exotic, which is why the intensity of my kids’ enthusiasm surprised me. But when you really think about it, the flavors are actually pretty familiar. Turmeric is found in yellow mustard and gives that condiment its bright golden color while contributing to its overall mustardy flavor. My kids like mustard. My kids like garlic. My kids like chicken. Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice with a tart, acidic flavor packed into pretty red flakes. It can be used in place of, or in concert with, citrus. Since my kids love limes, this wasn’t much of a stretch.
I’ve written out the recipe for a whole chicken since that’s what I had, but you could use all thighs as called for in the original recipe. If you don’t have sumac, you can leave it out and use a heavy hand with the lime instead. Or you can give the recipe more of an Indian flavor by subbing in a dusting of garam masala.
1 3-4-lb. chicken, cut into pieces, breasts cut in half
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground turmeric
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil)
3/4 cup water
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 juicy limes, halved
Sumac, for garnish
Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer on a large plate. Mix together the salt, pepper, and turmeric in a small bowl. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken, flipping to coat both sides.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. In two batches, brown the chicken well on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Add all the chicken back to the pan. Add the water and stir in the garlic. Bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat to low and cover the pan. Braise the chicken for 25 minutes, until the inside is opaque. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, turn up the heat to high, and reduce the cooking liquid for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce over the chicken, squeeze one lime half over the top, and dust with sumac and black pepper. Serve with rice and remaining lime wedges.
Source: Adapted from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia