This is a Milk Street recipe, but because I detest their instructional design, I redesigned it here. I like this dish because:

  • It can be made with ingredients from Trader Joe’s.
  • It has currants.
  • Crispy, buttery starch is great.
  • It’s resilient; the second time I made it with indirect heat on a propane bbq grill because my oven was on the fritz. Still great. Also I’ve tried brown basmati rice, tried doubling the eggs, tripled the garlic, I’m not measuring the butter and currents. Still great.


  • 1.5 cups basmati rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 12 ounces boneless skinless chicken thighs. I think this would also work with seitan or tempeh just mix a bit more oil in.
  • 1 lemon, for juice and zest
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 0.5 cups whole milk greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg (yolk only)
  • 3 tablespoons dried currants
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • Parsley, to garnish
  • Roasted Pistachios, to garnish
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

A pie plate. Milk Street spends a paragraph saying why glass is best (you can see the browning), but I’ve been doing ceramic and it’s fine.

30 minutes to 12 hours ahead

Soak the rice. Place the rice in a bowl with enough water to cover by 1 inch and let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours. Drain and rinse the rice again.

To begin

  • Place the oven rack at lowest position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Prepare a large pot of salted boiling water to cook the rice.
  • Thoroughly oil your pie plate.

Prep the ingredients

  • Melt the butter and set aside.
  • Crumble the saffron threads and soak the saffron in 2 tablespoons of boiling water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Zest the lemon resulting in about 3 teaspoons of lemon zest, to be divided between the chicken and the yogurt sauce. Put the rest of the lemon aside to be wedged later.
  • Grate the garlic.
  • Trim the chicken thighs into 1 to 1.5 inch pieces and in a medium bowl combine the chicken with 1 tbsp of oil, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and garlic Salt and pepper it.
  • Separate the egg yolk (discard the white) and mix the yogurt, egg yolk, remaining 2 teaspoons of lemon zest, and saffron water in a bowl large enough to eventually hold the rice too. Salt and pepper it. Whisk to combine well.


  • Add the rice to the pot of salted boiling water and cook for 5 minutes until par-boiled; the rice will still be slightly crunchy. Drain the rice.
  • Mix the par-boiled rice with the yogurt mixture and stir to combine.
  • Add about 1/3 of the rice mixture to the bottom of the pie plate, pressing it into an even layer on the bottom and halfway up the sides.
  • Mix the currants and the yogurt-chicken mixture into the remaining rice and yogurt mixture and then transfer the mixture to the pie dish. Do not compact or press the rice, but do distribute it evenly.
  • Drizzle the melted butter over the rice mixture.
  • Tightly cover the pie dish with foil and bake for 1 hour covered.

While it bakes, clean up and prepare

  • Chop the parsley and reserve for serving.
  • Chop the pistachios and reserve for serving.
  • Slice the lemon into wedges for personal squeezing.

After baking for 1 hour

  • Remove the foil and then uncovered, bake for an additional 10 minutes until the bottom is golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and rest for about 5 minutes.
  • Run a knife or spatula around the edge to loosen the rice from the pie plate, then invert onto a serving plate.
  • Sprinkle with the parsley and pistachios and serve with the lemon wedges on the side.