What we call Iran today used to be known as Persia and it's a country with a rich culinary heritage. Not surprising when you see where it sits on the map - a link between the Middle East and the Far East, Russia and Arabia. Persian food has absorbed influences and ingredients from all these places and, in turn, influenced them. Tonight's stew has echoes of Dhansak but something all of its own as well. We hope you enjoy!
Diced Chicken Thigh
Red Split Lentils
Water for Curry
Water for Rice
Pop your kettle on to boil. Heat a splash of oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken. Season with a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Cook, stirring often, until golden brown all over, 5-6 mins. While the chicken browns, halve, peel and thinly slice the shallot into half moons.
When the chicken has browned, add the shallot, ground turmeric, ground coriander and half the cumin seeds to the pan. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the red lentils and tomato purée. Cook for 1 minute more, then add the water (see ingredients for amount). Bring to the boil, stir in half the stock pot and reduce the heat so the stew is gently bubbling. Simmer for 10 mins, stirring occasionally.
Put the remaining cumin seeds in another large saucepan on medium heat (no oil). Toast for 1 min. Add the water (see ingredients for amount). Bring to the boil, add the remaining stock pot and stir to dissolve. Add the rice, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 10 mins, then remove from the heat and set aside (still covered) for another 10 mins. Tip: The rice will finish cooking in its own steam.
Meanwhile, remove the top and bottom from the courgette, quarter lengthways, then chop each strip into 1cm chunks. When the stew has been cooking for 10 mins, stir in the courgette and pop a lid on the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10-12 mins. TIP: If your stew is looking a bit dry, add a splash of water to loosen it up!
Halve the green chilli lengthways, deseed and thinly slice, then set aside. Pick the mint leaves from their stalks and finely chop (discard the stalks). In a small bowl, mix the Greek yoghurt with the mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep to one side.
Your stew is ready when the lentils are soft and the chicken is cooked. Important: The chicken is cooked when it is no longer pink in the middle. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then stir in as much green chilli as you fancy (add less if you're not a fan of heat!). Fluff up the rice with a fork and serve it in bowls topped with the stew. Add a dollop of minty yoghurt and a sprinkling of any remaining chilli. Enjoy!