Straight to the Plate: Persian Turmeric Chicken

Persion chicken with basmati and cucumbers. Courtesy of Tessa Busby

Straight to the Plate: Persian Turmeric Chicken

Tessa Busby '24, Staff Writer

To start, this is one of my personal favorites. In my day to day, I opt to be pescatarian but if I’m going to divulge and eat meat then I’d eat this. The combination of the spices is incredible, and it will always have a special place in my heart. Each piece of this meal has such diverse flavor and can be eaten on its own on any given night however, for this instance, I substituted the pistachios for some almonds and opted for some larger cut cucumber. For the cucumber toss, a bit of salt is key and I also add a tablespoon of yogurt along with a bit of pepper, dried oregano and thyme. 


  • 1 ½ Ib boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (cut into bite-size pieces)
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped, plus 1 smashed for rice
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 ¼ tsp ground cumin (divided)
  • 1 ¾ tsp kosher salt (divided)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon 
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (optional)
  • 1 English cucumber diced
  • 1/3 cup pistachios chopped



Step 1: Mix the chicken, onion, turmeric, garlic, lime juice, 1 Tbsp of oil, 2 Tsp of cumin, 1 Tsp salt, and ¾ Tsp pepper in a medium bowl. Then, heat 1 Tbsp of oil over medium in a heavy, medium saucepan. Add rice and smashed garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Step 2: Stir in cardamom, cinnamon, ¼ Tsp salt and remaining ¼ Tsp cumin and ¼ Tsp pepper. Add 1 ¾ cup water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and gently simmer, until rice is cooked, 18-20 minutes

Step 3: Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large skillet until very hot but not smoking. Add chicken mixture and cook through, 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat. If using yogurt, stir it in now.

Step 4: Gently toss the cucumber with herbs and salt in a small bowl.

Step 5: Serve hot and garnish with pistachios. 

Recipe courtesy of