I first heard about this recipe from my mom who had been talking about this “great chicken recipe that uses black lemons.” I had never made Saudi Arabian food before so I was looking forward to trying out a new dish. The recipe uses black lemons which is different from preserved lemons which I make pretty often. The black lemons are actually limes that are dried and turned black. They taste sour and citrusy, but the fact they are dried gives them a slightly smoky, fermented taste. The black lemons are used to flavor the dish like a bay leaf but aren’t really eaten (though they do soften up after cooking so I suppose you could eat them). The recipe is simple and takes roughly about 30 minutes to prepare. I loved how the black lemons flavored the chicken, tomatoes and onions. The chicken is served with rice and garnished with sauteed slivered almonds, golden raisins, onions and seasoned with cinnamon. All of the ingredients worked so well together and I have a feeling I will be exploring other ways to use that tasty almond and raisin garnish.
Saudi Arabian Black Lemon Roasted Chicken
(makes 4 servings)
2 onions, finely diced
2 tbsp olive oil
6-7 black lemons, pierced or halved with a knife
4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup warm water
3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup golden raisins
3 tsp cinnamon, ground
salt and pepper to taste
1-1 1/2 cups white rice, cooked
In a large sauce pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and add half of the diced onion into the oil. Sweat the onion on medium heat until translucent, about 9-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pot. Add the tomatoes, pierced black lemons and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the ground cinnamon.
Cook covered until the tomatoes are softened, about 8 minutes.
Remove the chicken and black lemons from the pot and arrange in a glass baking dish. Pour the juice over the chicken and add 1/3 cup water to the dish.
Bake uncovered in a preheated 375F oven for about 25-30 minutes, or when an internal thermometer reads 165F.
Meanwhile In a saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add the slivered almonds. Cook until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes on medium high heat. Remove and set aside.
Add the golden raisins to the same saute pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Add the onions and 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the same saute pan and cook until soft, about 8 minutes, adding more oil to the pan if the onions start to stick.
During the last 10-15 minutes of baking, cook the rice as directed on the package.
In a bowl, toss the almonds, raisins and cooked onions together.
Serve the chicken on top of the rice along with the tomatoes from the sauce pot and garnish with the almond raisin mixture.