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Everyday Turmeric Chicken (Morgh ba Zardchoobeh)


If turmeric is the workhorse of our spice cabinet, this dead simple and flavorful turmeric chicken dish is the workhorse of our weeknights. It’s the dish Drew consistently makes for the girls whenever I travel, and it’s the dish my mother would prepare when she didn’t want to think about what to cook. Everyday Turmeric Chicken is as perfect for a weeknight meal as it is for an impromptu dinner party. You can take the meat off the drumsticks when serving or serve on the bone, as we do, so the kids (and the adults) can gnaw on and suck out all the lovely mustardy yellow and lemony juices. You can ask your butcher to remove the chicken skin or do it yourself easily: hold the bottom of the drumstick with a paper towel with one hand as you slip the skin off with a paper towel with the other hand.   Use this recipe as your canvas and add to it as you like. A few sprigs of rosemary can add a fresh, earthy note, or stir in a little tomato paste (maybe with a little more water) for a richer red sauce. Put on a simple kateh-style steamed rice or Sheveed Polo—Dill Rice, or toss together a quick ends-and-bits salad, and call it a night.


Prepare the Chicken

1. Make a couple of slits in the flesh of each drumstick. This allows the drumsticks to cook faster and for all the flavors to seep in. In a bowl, season the drumsticks with the turmeric, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
2. In a large pan with a lid (12-inch works well), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with a little salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about eight minutes. Add the garlic and cook for two minutes. Splash with the wine (if using).
3. Add the drumsticks to the pan. It’s okay if they overlap a little, just scoot them around once in a while. Cook until the chicken takes on a little color, about three minutes on each side. Add the lemon juice and a scant 1/4 cup hot water. Turn the chicken pieces in the sauce to coat all sides, and scrape up all the crispy bits.
4. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer, turning once in a while, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 35 minutes. Taste as it cooks and make delicious. More salt, pepper, lemon juice? Garnish with parsley, if using, and serve.


This recipe can be made a few hours in advance, but leave the chicken in its juice in the pot. You might need to drizzle in a little more water when reheating. Can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to three months.


Excerpted from BOTTOM OF THE POT: Persian Recipes and Stories by Naz Deravian. Copyright © 2018 by Naz Deravian. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved. Photography by Eric Wolfinger.