I picked this recipe up somewhere many moons ago and I cook it from time to time from memory. I don’t know how authentic it is so if there are any Iranians reading this then feel free to comment.

I do have an Iranian friend, Mehran who lives with his family in Bandar Abbas but we have lost contact in recent years and he doesn’t use social media although I think it has been censored in recent years. We first met at the NEC in Birmingham. He handed me a box and said it was for my wife and I accepted it even though I wasn’t married at the time. When I got home and unwrapped it was the large box of Grade 1 Iranian Saffron, it must have cost a small fortune.

I’ve always harboured the thought of visiting Iran; my mind conjures up some splendid scenery, beautiful villages, street markets and food platters. And I’d like to find Mehran.

In my previous life I was a couple of months away from relocating to Iran to manage the Isfahan office (400km north of Tehran) of my employer at the time. Unfortunately there was an Iranian revolution and the Shah was overthrown and hopes of my new adventure were dashed. I ended up in Denmark instead, it could have been worse I suppose.

2 chicken thighs, skinless, bone-in (or pieces of your choice, leg or wings but not breast)
2 Onions, one chopped the other grated
Garlic, one clove grated
Lemon juice, squeeze
Tomato purée, one tablespoon
Fresh tomato, grated
Passata or Tomate Frito, several tablespoons
Carrot, diced
Turmeric, one teaspoon
Bay leaf
Salt, pinch
Black pepper, whole and ground
Ripe fig, peeled, messy I know (alternatively, use dried apricot or raisins)
Saffron, several strands (soaked in a little warm water)
Water

In a pan add the chicken, chopped onion, carrot, and ½ teaspoon turmeric, pinch of salt, a few black peppers corns and water to cover. Cook over medium heat for about 25 minutes or so. Remove the chicken but keep the cooking liquor.

Meanwhile, grate ½ onion then fry in a pan with remaining turmeric, grated garlic and a grind or two of black pepper. Stir occasionally until golden then add the tomato purée, mix well then set aside.

I previously fried off the discarded chicken skin as a treat for my dogs so I used that pan with the generated fat and gently coloured the chicken thighs.

Add the chicken to the pan of tomato sauce together with fig, lemon juice, saffron and cooking liquor, then on a low heat cook until the sauce is thick.

Season with salt.

Remember, it is all about the sauce.