Saffron and chilli chicken

A grilled and zesty chicken recipe, that can also be cooked on the barbeque.

Chargrilled saffron and chilli chicken Photograph: Eric Luke

Chargrilled saffron and chilli chicken Photograph: Eric Luke

Thu, Sep 5, 2013, 14:37

  • Serves: 4
  • Cooking Time: 45 mins
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Fusion


  • Pinch saffron
  • 1 large bunch mint
  • 2 chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Zest and juice of 2 limes
  • Good pinch dried mint
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • Tiny squeeze honey
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Few glugs olive oil


Soak the saffron threads in a scant tablespoon of boiling water in a cup and leave to sit while you get the marinade ready.

Remove the really stalky bits from the mint and then chuck it into your food processor along with the chillies, garlic, lime juice and zest, mint, cardamom, honey and seasoning.

Give it a blitz and add the saffron threads and water. If it won’t whizz easily, add a little olive oil and then blitz again until you have a loose salsa that is reasonably fine in texture.

Put the chicken thighs in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over them. Try to leave them for at least an hour to marinate, longer if you can. But it really doesn’t need to be done overnight.

To cook, heat up your chargrill pan until it is smoking and cook four thighs at a time (unless you have a very big and hot chargrill pan). They take a little while so don’t overload the pan.

If you have a very large batch to do (say if you are doubling the recipe) then I would sear them all really well on the chargrill until they are very well coloured on both sides and then put them in a large roasting tin and finish cooking them in the oven – say for 30 minutes at 180 degrees/gas 4.

They will also cook easily on a barbecue, but do remember that thighs are often a bit thicker than chicken breasts, so can take a little longer.

If you can baste them or pour over any excess marinade while they are cooking in the oven, do so.