Arabian roast chicken, pomegranate sauce and pilav

I LOVE this Arabian roast chicken recipe! It’s so tasty with such incredible Middle Eastern flavours. It’s perfect for entertaining when you want to do something special (that isn’t too tricky!).
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main
Servings 4
Dairy Free, Gluten Free



  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 knobs butter use oil for dairy-free
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 3 star anise optional
  • 3 cardamom pods bruised (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds crushed
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • cup dried currants
  • 1 orange zest
  • cups long-grain rice
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • cups chicken stock check label if eating gluten free
  • ½ cup parsley and coriander chopped

Roast chicken and pomegranate sauce

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground sumac
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 size 16-18 chicken rinsed and patted dry
  • olive oil for cooking
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 orange juice


  • Preheat oven to 170°C.
  • To make the pilav, heat oil and 1 knob of butter in a medium-large pot and cook onion, garlic and spices until onion is soft (4-5 minutes). Add currants, orange zest, rice, pine nuts, stock and a good pinch of salt, cover and bring to the boil. As soon as it starts to boil, reduce to low heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and leave to steam (still covered) for 10 minutes. Fluff up rice with a fork and toss through remaining knob of butter and herbs.
  • To cook the chicken, mix cumin, cinnamon, sumac and salt together. Place chicken in a roasting dish, breast side up. If you like, you can stuff the chicken with about one-third of the pilav (reserve the rest for serving) or just leave chicken as is. Drizzle with olive oil and rub spice mix all over. Tie legs together. Roast for 1 hour 10 minutes or until chicken is just cooked through (the juices will run clear). Cover with foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Place pomegranate juice, balsamic vinegar and orange juice in a pan and bring to a boil. Add any cooking juices from the roasting pan and simmer rapidly for about 10 minutes until reduced to a sauce.
  • Transfer chicken to a platter and spoon remaining pilav around chicken. Serve with pomegranate sauce on the side.

Top tips:

  • If the sauce isn’t thickening up, mix 1 tsp cornflour with 2 tsp cold water and stir into the sauce while it is simmering. Keep stirring and it will eventually thicken up.


This roast chicken is a great comfort dish, especially with the spiced pilav that goes with it. Serve it with my beetroot, spiced almond, date, and feta salad – yum!
Sumac is a reddish purple powder made by grinding up dried berries from the shrub of the same name. It has a tart flavour (much like lemon) and adds a lemony taste to many Middle Eastern dishes. I recommend you try to seek some out, but if you can’t find it you can substitute it with a little lemon zest or leave it out altogether.