Saffron and basmati rice are natural partners, enhanced here with the orange flavor of cardamom. The aromas commingle in a uniquely exotic fragrance. The cardamom in the pilaf is left whole, so the pods need to be bruised or crushed slightly to allow the flavor of the seeds to escape. Serve this dish with yogurt and cilantro relish flavored with a little crushed garlic and ground, toasted cumin. If you don't have a nonstick skillet large enough to hold 10 cups, use a Dutch oven. Covering the mixture with a towel holds in steam and moisture to finish cooking the rice.
Cover rice with cold water. Let stand for 20 minutes. Drain and rinse the rice with cold water. Drain.
Sort and rinse lentils. Place lentils in a small saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes or until almost tender. Drain.
Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan. Add onion and ginger to pan; sauté 7 minutes or until tender. Add carrot and cardamom; sauté 2 minutes. Return chicken to pan. Add rice, lentils, rind, juice, salt, and pepper. Combine broth and saffron; stir until saffron is dissolved. Add saffron mixture to pan; bring to a simmer. Cover and cook 15 minutes or until rice is almost tender and liquid is absorbed. Stir in spinach. Remove from heat. Cover with a towel; place lid over towel. Let stand 10 minutes.
Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add almonds; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Sprinkle almonds over chicken mixture.
This is a great recipe! The dish is full of flavor. I used an organic Moroccan saffron I purchased from Amazon, which enhanced the flavor of the dish. If you are interested, you can check it out here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JX1QZRO.
Thanks! Keep these great recipes coming!
Unde-rspiced but a nice combination of textures. My husband and son liked it and can't wait for the leftovers. It was a nice change of pace. Some cumin seed sauted with the chicken would have given a little lift.
The husband and I really enjoyed this. He thought it was "restaurant quality." I would have liked a little spiciness, I think. Chicken thighs around here are 1/4 lb, so I used 6 and made it 6 servings to lower the overall calorie count a bit. Also, couldn't find blanced almonds in the store and didn't take the time to blanch them myself. The plain "natural" almonds were still quite tasty with the butter. I used a dutch oven because my extra large skillet doesn't have a lid. Will use a little oil next time, as it was quite tough to clean.
Good flavor. I did not have cardamom pods so used ground. I loved the lentils. The rice took longer to cook than the recipe indicates which resulted in the chicken drying out some. I will grill the chicken next time, and add it at the end.
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