Project Description

Chicken with Walnut and Pomegranate Stuffing and Jewel Rice

While a classic roast chicken is a wonderful dish to master, this golden Chicken with Walnut and Pomegranate Stuffing and Jewel Rice is an Arabic version.  I have always loved the different cuisines of the world and take great delight in eating them when I am overseas and re-creating the flavours when I get home. Originally Arab food was that of desert nomads and so was simple and portable with ingredients like rice and dates or ambulatory animals like sheep and camels. As the caravans travelled throughout the Middle East new ingredients were discovered and added to the repertoire. The nomadic Bedouin influence has thus been broadened by other cuisines from the Arab world resulting in a diverse food culture.

Serves 8 as part of menu
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour 20minutes


1.9kg free-range chicken, at room temperature
1 tablespoon (20ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
¾ cup (120g) raisins
½ cup (50g) walnuts
1/3 cup (50g) Besan (chickpea flour)
2 tablespoons (40ml) pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 pomegranate or pomegranate seeds


  1. Remove excess fat from inside of chicken, wash and pat dry.
  2. Heat oil in a medium frying pan over medium high heat and cook onions for 5 minutes, until golden. Spoon half onions in a small bowl and put aside until ready to use.
  3. Add raisins, walnuts and Besan to remaining onions in pan. Stir well then add pomegranate molasses and ¼ cup water. Mix well. Remove from heat and cool.
  4. Fill chicken cavity with stuffing and enclose with a skewer.
  5. Place remaining onions, 2 cups water, turmeric, salt and pepper to taste in a deep pan. Put chicken in breast-side down. If the liquid does not come half way up the chicken, add more water. Cover the pan, bring to a simmer and cook on medium for about 25-30 minutes. Gently turn chicken over so as not to break skin (this ensures whole chicken is golden) and cook for another 25 mins or until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken from pot, test with a skewer through thickest part of leg to ensure it is cooked. If juices do not run clear, return chicken to pan and cook a little longer.
  6. Leave chicken to rest, covered with foil, then a tea towel, while making sauce. Return pan to high heat and simmer for 10-20 mins (depending on amount of liquid), to reduce liquid to a sauce consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.
  7. To serve, carve chicken or serve whole, place on a serving platter and spoon over sauce. Cut pomegranate in half, bash gently with a rolling pin, to remove seeds, and scatter them over chicken.

Lyndey’s Note:  Besan flour is available in health food stores. Alternatively you could use fresh breadcrumbs in the stuffing but then the dish would not be gluten-free.

Jewel rice

Jewel rice is named for the look of the rice, studded with dried fruit and nuts, this is a really simple recipe. I just adapted my mother’s favourite “fried rice” recipe, itself a pilaf method.

Serves 8
Preparation 5 mins
Cooking 27 – 30 mins

1 tablespoon (20ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups long grain rice
3 cups (750ml) chicken stock
200g pack dried fruit medley
100g blanched almonds, toasted
40g pistachio kernels, chopped roughly

Place very large frying pan over medium high heat. Add oil and then onion and cook until softened. Add the rice and stir well to toast. Add chicken stock, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 mins. Stir through the fruit and if it seems a bit dry, add more stock or water. Cook another 5 mins or until rice is soft. Stir through the nuts and serve immediately.

Lyndey’s Note:  The dried fruit medley comes already chopped up in small pieces

Serve with Broad Beans with Coriander and Cumin

To complete a menu, also precede with Yoghurt and Beetroot Salad and Mashed Carrot Salad.