Exotic Chicken and Rice Casserole

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For the Exotic Marinade:

  • ⅓ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 medium lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 (2 to 3 pound) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

For the Rice:

  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 2 ¼ cups chicken broth, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice
  • 1 drizzle olive oil
  • salt to taste

For the Garlic Yogurt Sauce (Optional):

  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon water, or as needed


  • Step 1: Add yogurt, lime zest and juice, salt, paprika, cumin, coriander, cayenne, white pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, and allspice for marinade to a large mixing bowl; whisk to combine.
  • Step 2: Make one or two slits into each piece of dark chicken meat, down to the bone. Add chicken parts to the yogurt marinade and toss very thoroughly. Wrap in plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours.
  • Step 3: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×13-inch casserole dish.
  • Step 4: Grind saffron in a mortar with a pestle. Pour in 1/4 cup chicken broth and stir to combine.
  • Step 5: Combine unsalted butter and salt in a saucepan; pour in remaining 2 cups chicken broth and chicken broth-saffron mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add basmati rice and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover tightly, and let simmer gently for exactly 15 minutes; do not disturb while cooking. Turn off the heat and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Step 6: While rice is still hot, transfer into the prepared casserole dish. Use a fork to fluff the rice while gently spreading into an even layer. Place the chicken pieces, skin-side up, on top of rice. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  • Step 7: Roast in the center of the preheated oven until chicken is no longer pink in the centers and juices run clear, about 45 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone, should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
  • Step 8: While chicken is in the oven, mix yogurt, garlic, green onions, mint, cilantro, salt, and water together for sauce. Reserve in the refrigerator until needed. Serve chicken and rice on a plate and top with sauce.

Chef’s Notes:

  • I used sheep’s milk yogurt, but any plain, full-fat yogurt will do. If you don’t have white pepper, you can use freshly ground black pepper. You can use any long-grain white rice.
  • I’ve seen versions of this recipe where the chicken is grilled after it’s marinated, pulled off the bone, and then added to the rice–which I’m sure is good, but seems like a lot of extra work.

Nutrition Facts:

Per Serving: 362 calories; Protein 23.8g; Carbohydrates 31.7g; Fat 15.4g; Cholesterol 71.5mg; Sodium 1125.5mg.