Morgh Zaferani

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 5 min
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
Persian saffron chicken is a classic dish often enjoyed with white rice, herbed rice or reshteh polo (Persian rice and noodles). The chicken is cooked on the stovetop with a mixture of saffron and onions until tender and fragrant. I love using whole chicken legs for this recipe because they are very flavorful and juicy, but you can always sub in chicken breasts if you prefer.



  1. Sprinkle the saffron over the ice cubes and let it melt. This will be your bloomed saffron.
  2. Mix the turmeric with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Pat the chicken dry completely and sprinkle the spice mix on both sides.
  3. Place a large skillet over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and heat until hot. Add half of the chicken legs and sear until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken legs.
  4. Add the onions to the same skillet in an even layer and top with the chicken legs, nestling them together so they fit snuggly. Add 1/2 cup hot water and drizzle half of the bloomed saffron over the chicken. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Flip the chicken pieces and drizzle with some of the pan sauce to moisten. Cover again and cook, flipping halfway through, until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Add the butter and remaining bloomed saffron. Cook, flipping the chicken once or twice, until well coated in the saffron sauce, another 5 to 10 minutes.

Cook’s Note

This recipe calls for ground saffron, which is different from saffron strands (threads). If using saffron strands, make sure to grind them first with a mortar and pestle before measuring.