Pouri havov pilaf – or roast chicken with pilaf is a traditional Armenian dish with many variations. Since my grandma passed away I’ve asked my grandpa a million times for her old recipes and kitchen secrets, but he swears she kept nothing written down – which I entirely believe. So although this recipe isn’t actually my yia yia’s, it’s my own interpretation which I’ve pieced together from distant memories of tastes and smells.

Typically pilaf is made with rice or bulghur with vermicelli, but I decided to use farro which made a welcome change. Not only is farro arguably the healthiest of grains, it soaks up the spices so beautifully as well as retaining just a little bit of bite!

This is the ultimate comfort food, and something to be shared with family and friends.

Pouri Havov Pilaf

Serves 4

For the pouri hav (roast chicken)

600g chicken thighs and drumsticks, with bone and skin
1 lemon
½ red onion, thinly sliced into rings
Bunch of fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon all spice
2 teaspoons cumin
Pinch of ground cloves
Ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sunflower oil

For the farro pilaf

300g farro, rinsed well with cold water
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into rings
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
50g pine nuts
50g dried cranberries
500ml hot chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon all spice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190°c.

Put the chicken pieces in a large bowl, add the zest of the lemon before thinly slicing it and adding it also. Throw in the mint, onion, spices, seasoning and sunflower oil and using your hands mix well so the chicken is well coated with everything.

Transfer to an oven-proof dish and roast on the middle shelf for around 1 hour – 1hour 15 minutes, basting the chicken from time to time.

Meanwhile to make the pilaf, heat the butter in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and gently sauté until soft but not brown. Next add the uncooked farro and pine nuts, and stir for a minute of two. Finally, season generously, add the spices, dried cranberries and stock then bring it up to the boil before reducing the heat, covering and leaving to simmer for around 15 minutes. The farro will absorb all of the stock and be perfectly cooked! If you feel like you need to add a bit more water, do so as you see fit.

Once the farro is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and cover first with a clean dish cloth, then with the lid. Leave to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve the chicken with the farro pilaf, sprinkle with chopped mint and a dollop of yoghurt. Yum.


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