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Claudia Roden’s Roast Chicken with Bulgur, Raisins, Chestnuts and Pine Nuts

Claudia Roden

by Claudia Roden from Med: A Cookbook

Add a new roast to your repertoire with Claudia Roden's comforting chicken, served on a bed of spiced bulgar pilaf and drizzled with zesty yoghurt sauce.

From the book

Claudia Roden


When my grandchildren were small, I made regular weekly meals for all the family and it was always roast chicken. It was what the grandchildren wanted and it was easy to put three chickens in the oven together. Bulgur – whole wheat kernels that have been boiled, then dried and ground – is a rural staple in Turkey and the Arab world. You often see it drying on rooftops in the countryside there. With chestnuts, raisins, pine nuts and delicate spices, it makes a sophisticated accompaniment to the chicken.

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1 large chicken
2 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
juice of ½ lemon
salt and black pepper
For the bulgur pilaf:
1 large onion, halved and sliced
2 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
500ml chicken stock (use 1 stockpot or stock cube)
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground coriander
50g raisins, soaked in water for 15 minutes
250g bulgur
50g butter, cut into pieces
50g pine nuts
100g cooked whole chestnuts, halved
For the yoghurt sauce:
200g Greek-style yoghurt
grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
grated zest of ½ orange
1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)


Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.

Rub the chicken with the oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper and push the squeezed half lemon inside the cavity. Lay the chicken, breast-side down, in a baking dish and pour in about 5 tablespoons water. Roast for 1 hour then turn the chicken breast-side up and roast for another 15–20 minutes, until the skin is crisp and brown and the juices run clear when you cut into the bird between the leg and the body with a pointed knife.

While the chicken is in the oven, make the bulgur pilaf: in a large frying pan, fry the onion in the oil over medium heat, with the lid on, for about 20 minutes until brown and caramelised. Stir often and remove the lid towards the end.

At the same time, bring the chicken stock to the boil in a large pan. Stir in the cinnamon, allspice, coriander and some salt (taking into consideration the saltiness of the stock). Stir in the raisins and bulgur and cook over low heat, with the lid on, for about 10 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed and the grain is tender.  Fold in the butter, and add pepper, and more salt to taste.

Put the pine nuts and chestnuts in the frying pan with the fried onions and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes, then mix into the bulgur.

For the yoghurt sauce, beat the yoghurt with the rest of the ingredients with a fork.

To serve, cut the chicken into pieces and pour the lemony sauce that has formed at the bottom of the baking dish over the chicken and the bulgur. Serve with the yoghurt sauce.

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From the book: Med: A Cookbook

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