Syrian chicken (with ginger, lemon, and star anise)

Fragrant, packed with flavour and so delicious you will want to cook it again and again — for yourself, your family and your friends. The profusion of spices doesn’t overwhelm but lends a delicate personality to the dish because of the way in which the spices combine and stir poetry in the pot. A clear winner, this.



I followed this recipe with a few alterations as noted below.


2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
A medium to large chicken, cut into pieces
Olive oil
2 onions, thickly sliced
100 grams ginger, cut into matchsticks (I subsituted with ginger poweder)
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 small red chillies, split
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 pinches saffron threads (I omitted this, didn’t have saffron at hand)
1 star anise
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
1 lemon, juiced and zested (the zest adds an extra aromatic layer)
1 tablespoon honey (add more if you like it sweeter)
100 grams currants


Combine the salt, cinnamon, pepper and turmeric in a large plastic bag. Add the chicken pieces and shake to coat.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the star anise, onion, ginger, garlic and chilli to the pan and cook for 3 minutes, adding a little more oil, if necessary. Add the tomatoes, saffron, cumin seeds and thyme and cook for 2 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan and add the lemon juice and zest, honey, currants, and enough water to just cover the chicken.

Cover with a lid and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through, and the sauce is slightly reduced.

Stir in the coriander and serve with rice or roti.


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