Apricot and Prune Chicken Stew (Aloo Mosamaa)
From The Saffron Tales, by Yasmin Khan
Reprinted with the author’s kind permission
3 medium onions, finely chopped
¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
¾ teaspoon cilantro (coriander) seeds
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds, I like to cut them into two pieces each)
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups good-quality chicken stock
16 dried apricots, cut in quarters
16 prunes, cut in half
½ teaspoon saffron threads
A pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons freshly boiled water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan with a lid and gently fry the onions over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and very soft (around 25 minutes).
Meanwhile, toast the cumin and cilantro seeds in a dry skillet for a minute or two and then grind them into a fine powder with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
Once the onions are ready, add the chicken thighs to the saucepan, along with the ground cumin and cilantro, the cinnamon, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Cook for a few minutes over high heat until the chicken is sealed (not raw-looking) on all sides and then add the stock. Cover and cook over a low to medium heat for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and lightly fry the apricots and prunes for 2-3 minutes until they start to plump up.
Grind the saffron with a pinch of sugar in the mortar and pestle and then transfer to a cup and leave to steep in the boiled water for 2 minutes.
When the chicken is cooked, add the fried fruit, along with the lemon juice and saffron liquid. Cook for a final 5-10 minutes until the sauce with the lid off, until the sauce has thickened a bit. Adjust the seasoning with a touch more salt, pepper, or lemon juice.