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Tadjik Chicken and Candied Orange-Nuts Pilaf Recipe

Ryan Thomas is a university student who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.


There have been few recipes I have made that are greater in beauty than this one. A magnificent compilation of rice, nuts, raisins, and chicken crowned with rings of oranges and cilantro, providing little emeralds against the golden background... It makes for the magnificent centerpiece to a dinner. In my case, perhaps the absurdly large cat sitting on the table provided something of a distraction, but the beauty of the pilaf still shines through nevertheless. All in all, it makes for—in my opinion—a splendid meal, especially visually, although it takes quite some time to prepare.

For those who are not enamored with sweet food, reducing the quantity of sugar that the recipe calls for might yield the less-sweet result that you desire.

This recipe is adapted from Please to the Table, The Russian Cookbook by Anya von Bremzen.


  • Zest of 3 oranges
  • Orange wedges Of 1 orange
  • 3 large onions, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 cups Rice
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 2/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 lb chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • small amount of cilantro, as a garnish


  1. Blanch the orange zest. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan, then add in the orange zest. Leave for 1 minute, then remove, and drain. Bring same quantity of water back to a boil, add the orange zest, cook for 1 minute additional, then remove and drain again.
  2. Add the 1/4 cup of olive oil into the bottom of a large casserole dish/dutch oven. Heat until hot, then add the chicken pieces, in portions at a time. Brown the chicken, then remove it to a plate.
  3. Add the onions, and sauté for 10 minutes, until they are golden brown. Then add the turmeric, cinnamon, and salt and black pepper to taste. Add back in the chicken. Add 4 cups of water, bring to boil, and then reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is tender, around 20 minutes.
  4. Turn the heat to high and boil for 1 minute. Then add in 3 tablespoons of butter, 1/3 cup of raisins, and the 2 cups of rice, reduce to heat and simmer for 20 minutes more, while covered. When all the liquid is absorbed this step is done.
  5. Make the syrup in the same period of time. Combine together 3/4 cup of water and 3/4 cups of sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a boil to completely dissolve the sugar, and then simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, then add in the various nuts and the orange zest : stir for 4-5 minutes. Then add the syrup, and cook until it is thickened and reduced after 10 minutes.
  7. Spoon the rice-chicken mixture onto a decorative serving platter. Mix in 2/3 of the nut mixture, then scatter the rest over the top of the pilaf. Place the cilantro over the top, and add in the orange wedges.

© 2017 Ryan Thomas