“Shab-e Yalda conjures up memories of growing up in Tehran, being with family, and having a deep sense of belonging as we stayed up late to celebrate this ancient and symbolic tradition. As I prepare this dish today for my family, I am spontaneously transported to a distant past and a place far away.” —Omid Roustaei
Omid Roustaei’s Morgh Shekam Por
Fruits, nuts, and saffron-glazed chicken for the longest, darkest night of the year.
1 whole chicken (about 5 lbs.)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. pepper, ground
1 tsp. turmeric, ground
4 tbsp. olive oil or butter
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup walnut, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper, ground
1/4 tsp. cumin, ground
1/4 tsp. coriander, ground
1/4 tsp. cinnamon, ground
1/4 tsp. cardamom, ground
1 Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
4 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. saffron threads, ground using a mortar and pestle
1/4 tsp. salt
- Rinse the chicken thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
- Rub the entire chicken with salt, pepper, and turmeric and place on a lightly greased tray or oven-proof dish.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and lower the oven rack toward the bottom 1/3 of the oven.
- In your Always Pan, saute the onions with oil over medium heat for 10 minutes. Once the onions have turned translucent, add the walnuts, salt and pepper, and all of the spices and saute for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients for the filling to the Always Pan and toss around. Turn the flame off and set it aside.
- Stuff the chicken with the filling, making sure all the filling is nicely tucked into the cavity. Close the cavity as best as you can.
- Place the chicken in the oven and roast for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thighs has reached 165°F. Baste periodically as described below.
- As soon as the chicken has started to roast, place all the ingredients for the baste in a clean Always Pan and mix well over low heat for a couple of minutes. Set aside.
- Brush the chicken periodically with the baste until all the basting liquid has been used.
- Once the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165°F, remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
- Place the chicken on a serving platter and serve with plain rice, bread, salad, or fresh herbs.