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Saffron Infused Chicken With Quince

I wrote earlier that I am addicted to cardamom, right? Well, I have another sinful confession to make – I am addicted to saffron too. My nose is quite adept at recognizing its aroma at such a distance you may think I have serious issues here:)

Saffron is quite an expensive treat, I should say. I used to buy it from a Persian grocery store about a 30 minute drive from where we live but I recently discovered Spanish saffron at a nearby Trader Joe’s and it made my life easier. Every time I go there I make sure I buy a small jar so that I have enough supply to satisfy my saffron cravings.

In Azerbaijan saffron is the king of spices. Saffron is used widely but at the same time sparingly in rice pilaffs, in soups and stews, desserts, sweets and syrups and many other dishes to add a nice touch of flavor and/or beautiful color.

My friend Maryam once made this chicken stew with quince infused with saffron. After having at least 3 servings (yes, I am a glutton) of it, I was ready to write the recipe down and whip up this glorious dish next time my addiction kicked in. This stew is pretty easy to make and it is delicious too. The flavors of quince, saffron and chicken go great together in the dish. Maryam and I share the same ethnic background but we grew up in different countries, she in Iran and I in Azerbaijan. I see this dish as a fusion of Persian and Azerbaijani cuisines that have a lot in common, and where both quince and saffron are widely used in cooking.

A word on quinces. If you ever travel to Azerbaijan, make sure you stop at a local farmer’s market to buy fresh quince. Don’t be tempted to rush to the first stand with quinces you see in the large market hall. Listen carefully and if you hear a seller proudly shouting “Ordubad Heyvasi!” or “Ordubad Heyvasi burda” meaning “Quince from Ordubad” and “Quince from Ordubad is here” don’t wait, head straight over in that direction and fill your bag with this exotic fruit. The city of Ordubad boasts the best quince in the country. It is so tender and sweet inside. Go ahead and eat them raw, just like you would eat an apple. In Azerbaijan we also make delicious quince preserve, we stuff the quince with meat and call if Quince Dolma. The exotic fruit can also turn into a nice refreshing syrup we call sherbet – perfect to finish a hearty meals with.

Ok, I’m being carried away here. I’ll stop. Without much ado, here’s the recipe. Thank you, Maryam!

SAFFRON INFUSED CHICKEN WITH QUINCE / Heyvali ve Zeferanli Toyuq

Serves 6

Ingredients

4 medium quinces (about 2 pounds / 1 kg)
6 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
1 teaspoon powdered saffron threads (using a mortar and pestle powder 2 teaspoons saffron threads) dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
3 pounds (about 1.5 kg) boneless chicken parts, cut into serving size pieces (I used thighs)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup water
about 10 dried sour plums, pitted and halved (if it is difficult to remove the pit, simply cut the flesh into strips to use and discard the stone) – substitute with 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste

1. Do not peel the quinces. Quarter them and remove core with a knife. Cut into wedges not too thin and not too thick.

2. In a large frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the quince and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add saffron powder and cook together, for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat the quince with the saffron. Remove from heat.

Saffron and Quince

3. In a large deep frying pan, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

4. Add the onion and cook together for another 6-7 minutes. When the chicken starts to release the juices, add tomato paste dissolved in water. Cook together for another 10-15 minutes, or until the juices have slightly thickened. The chicken will be almost but not completely cooked at this point.

5. Add the quince and dried sour plums to the chicken and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Reduce the heat to medium to low, and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken and quince are tender (quince should not be mushy). Note that cooking times may vary depending on the chicken and how hard the fresh quinces were.

Nush Olsun! Enjoy!

53 Comments
  1. WOW, Farida! Looks stunning! I’ve never had quince in a savory dish.

  2. Farida, what a beautiful dish! I see that there are many common elements between Greek cuisine and Azerbaijani food as Greeks cook with Quince too, as well as saffron. Very nicely done and thanks for the tip on Ordubad quince. Just lovely!

  3. Farida this look absolutely yummy and so NICE!! I love quinces! and how you made is diffrente to me but I like so, xxxGloria
    Cariños

  4. Farida I love so this dish You use any types of quinces??I make a chicken with oranges but with quices never but I find lovely!! xGloria

  5. Farida, how nice to see someone cooking with quinces. I absolutely adore quinces. I had to move south to find them. We have quince dishes and marmalades, jams, too yet my favorite is quince (ayva) dessert with clotted cream.

  6. Can you believe I’ve never had a quince? I don’t know how they’ve slipped by me all these years! I do love saffron and I must say that’s an expensive obsession! Glad to hear the TJ’s version is good. I’ll definitely be buying that once my pricey jar is done.

  7. How could one not be addicted to saffron? The only problem with that adiction is its prize :| This recipe sounds so delicious!

  8. What a gorgeous-looking chicken dish! This raises the humble chicken stew to such exotic heights. I wish I could find quinces to cook this dish with.

  9. It looks very tasty! I’ve never had quince before, but I have seen them in the store. No doubt, they’re not as good as the ones in your country.

    Nice job!

    Thanks so much for the award… how thoughtful of you. It’s my first! :)

  10. The recipe sounds delicious, the pictures are stunning, but I especially like that every one of your posts opens the mind just a bit.

  11. Oh, wonderful! I love meat stews with quince! A great combination! Refined and delicious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  12. I love love love cardamom and saffron as well! I wish I could eat saffron flavored things more often without having to sell my house!
    What an interesting combo you have there, with the quinces! Very nice!

  13. Dear Farida

    A beautiful dish with saffron..I love saffron and the aroma it adds to the dish but am too stingy with it..Just stick to pulav and sweet dishes like kheer..
    Quince is new to me again..dont think we get it in India..

  14. The saffron’s made this dish so vibrant and the quinces pairing is wonderful.

  15. i love, love quinces. somehow tey are quite hard to come by in belgium – but i love them in savory dishes. quince jam? delicious too :)

  16. Hey pal, the colors of your dish look vibrant and delish. I can’t imagine how chicken and quince would taste together, but I’m very curious to find out.
    I also love Saffron. My mom goes to Orense, Spain every other year to visit friends and relatives, and she always brings back a nice supply of saffron. Although, I’ve also tried TJ’s cute little jars of saffron and it’s pretty wonderful stuff too.

    I was excited to’ve found quince at a local market yesterday. So I’d like to give your dish a try as soon as I get back from vacation.

  17. Farida,
    I have made quince jam but this looks wonderful. I am bookmarking it!

  18. saffron is so perfect for so many things I get this weak saffron from New Mexico, its ok and I can use a lot since it isnt very expensive but I would sure like to have some good stuff some day….

  19. Farida, that’s a beautiful dish! I also pick up saffron from Trader Joe’s–so I really have no excuse not to make this!

  20. this sounds and looks really lovely. is there any difference in taste from Spanish saffron? i’d imagine no since it’s from the same plant, but just curious.

  21. Maryann sound like a great friend to share such a wonderful recipe. Thank you for sharing it with us! I’m with you on the saffron – I love adding it to things. It makes me feel exotic. I MUST find these quinces! I’ve never had them. :(

    xoxox Amy

  22. What a fabulously original recipe, Farida. Saffron is one of the spices that can be overpowering, but when it’s right, it’s sublime.

  23. MARIJA: Thank you! This dish is really delicious, the taste and the looks is pretty exotic. I am so glad my friend shared it with me. She is a great cook!

    SAM: Yes, you are right. I find a lot of similarities between the two cuisines. Geographical proximity must have its share in this similarity too, I believe.

    GLORIA: Querida amiga, muchisimas gracias! I know of only one type of quince, the one you see on the picture above. You can use hard or slightly soft quinces, but not too soft as they
    soften while cooking.

    BURCU: Thank you! I love quinces too. Especially quince preserve. I am curious about your ayva with cream dessert. Please post

    SHARON: Yes, the TJ saffron is pretty good and the price is not bad either

    BEN: It is an expensive addiction but the taste of saffron is worth every penny spent on it Plus if you don’t cook with it every day the cost should not be a problem. Go for it, Ben

    EATINGCLUBVANCOUVER: Thank you! Maybe farmer’s markets have them in Vancouver?

    JACQUE: Enjoy the award, it is well deserved. Thanks for your nice words, too. Yes, I can’t find the same quinces here, sadly, but I am still happy with whatever I find as long as it reads quince on them

    DEE: Thank you for your sweet words!

    ROSA: Thank you so much!

    RITA: Welcome to my blog. Glad you like the recipe. Please be my guest again

    SWATI: Hmm, I didn’t know quinces are a rare found in India. Maybe in some regions they are more available?

    PETER: Glad you like the recipe! Thank you!

    ANDREA: Thank you! I love quinces too! I wish I could send you some from here.

    MARYSOL: Glad you like the recipe. Please do try it when you come back Have fun on your vacation!

    MAYA: Thank you, dear. So happy that you want to try it. Please let me know how it goes.

    DOGGYBLOGGY: Do they grow saffron in NM? Didn’t know that. Or, is it coming from Mexico Hm, interesting. Curious about the taste.

    ELLE: Thank you! Isn’t it great to have a TJ around?

    JONATHAN: Jonathan, the taste of Spanish saffron is the same as saffron I buy from a Persian store. In fact, I heard that Spain import this saffron from Iran and then exports it to the US Smart

    FAMILIABENCOMO: Try some ethnic food stores, such as Arabic or Persian in your area. They usually carry quinces.

    SUSAN: Thank you! Glad you like it.

  24. That chicken looks really good! I have not used saffron all that much, though I have some and should use it.

  25. when it comes to safron, i’ve always got one peculiar question in my head — can u use safron to dye fabrics??

    this looks awesome. i love saffron in plain white rice..but woa, add this chicken to this and my plate becomes heaven. love it.

  26. This sounds great. I have to save this for when this fall. My father in law has a quince tree and he always lets me have all I want.

  27. I too am addicted to cardamom but when it comes to saffron I’m rather in the R&D phase :)
    This dish looks incredibly tasty and I do love to pair quince with meat. Yum!

  28. How lovely does this dish look? It sounds amazing although I have not tried quince before it looks wonderful. :-)

  29. I love quince but the ones i buy here dont have the same flavour and juice as the ones back home!! My gran used to make chicken and quince dish and its delish:-).
    Thanks Farida for sharing:-)
    X Matin

  30. this looks so delicious. I too am an absolute cardamom addict. I love it in everything. And, as an indian, I love it with meat. This is now one of many of your recipes I have bookmarked. (I made one and will post next week.)

  31. How nice looking!! I can smell it from here!

  32. hi, I have never had quince and your info is really nice. I liked the recipe, and your pics!:-)

  33. Sounds gorgeous Farida, I just wish I could get hold of quinces ;)

  34. Farida, I share your love for saffron…and yes, I add it to chicken most of the time, yours looks lovely…I too buy the spanish saffron :-)

  35. That looks great Farida! I have recently begun to really love saffron. When we go up north and get a chance to go to TJs I always pick up one of those jars of Spanish saffron too! The little jar is so cute!

  36. Apart from the flavour of saffron, I love the colour it gives!

  37. Farida I was just about to tell you that Azerbaijani cuisine and Greek cuisine have a lot of common as we also cook with quince and saffron and saw that Sam was ahead of me. We also make the fruit preserve which we call spoon sweets and like you I am also addictive to cardamom. Your recipe has been bookmarked and I would like to try it during quince season.

  38. This recipe intrigues me as I’ve never had quince before! I love to work with ingredients that are new to me.

    Thanks for the tip on the TJ’s saffron!

  39. Farida,

    I have to tell you that I have never had a Quince in my life. I guess living here in Canada it gets to cold to grow them. They almost look like a pear in many ways. Your photos look wonderful too Farida and the dish sounds delicious!

  40. Farida what an absolutely gorgeous dish! I also share your love of saffron and quince. I have a little quince shrub growing in my front garden they smell so fragrant – wonderful post :D

    Rosie x

  41. FRIENDS, Thank you so much for all your comments! I am sorry for not replying to you individually, as I am on a very tight deadline to finish something:)

    THANK YOU!!!

  42. hmm…saffron may be one of the most expensive addictions out there, but at least it’s not bad for you. :) in fact, in this dish, it’s downright good for you, and gorgeous to boot. bravo! :)

  43. I have never tried quince or saffron before – looks like this is a dish I need to try!

  44. I must admit I am also a big fan of Saffron! The smell is just out of this world, but never thought of mixing with a quince. As you said Live & Learn! That is one dish I would have love to taste! I must make it to find out! Im glad I found your blog – hersey cok guzel! COK!

    Sevgilerle,
    Aysegul
    nysdelight.com

  45. You know,

    Whenever I visit your blog, I just keep coming back to see this post. I think it’s a bout time a make this dish!

    :)

  46. Hi Farida

    this is my first time here, and I have been going thru your blog… its soo beautiful. ur recipes pictures everything. I will keep coming back, and I am adding you to my Links.

    Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful dishes:-)
    Soma

  47. zsz6fl08vljm25qs

  48. Hi Farida. Thank you for posting this one. I tried this and added bit mint powder (nane tozu) and the result was just amazing. Thanks once again.

  49. Was given some quince and spotted your recipe. I did a version of it today and it was a great success so thankyou. No Azerbaijani quince, Im in the UK.
    I used chicken pieces on the bone and added preserved lemons instead of the sour cherries. Having fried off the chicken I finished the cooking process in some home made chicken stock. I left out the tomatoes as the flavour was so good already. and cooked some baby carriots in the pot too. I also finished the dish with a little cream and fresh flat leaf parsley.
    Some pureed potatoe with a little nutmeg rounded the whole thing off.
    I was very pleased with the result. Thanks again.

  50. Feride han?m, sunumda kulland???n?z ?u tabaklar beni mest ediyor.
    Yüre?inize sa?l?k.
    En iyi dileklerimle,

  51. In Germany, quince has long be forgotten. Not many know even
    about this fruit. Quince is only used in jam and jelly, unfortunately.
    Since I do not have a sweet tooth like most Europeans, I have
    spotted several recipes cooking quinces wtih meat and poultry.
    Since guince does not thrive in this country, you do not find
    fragrant ones. Just be happy with what you have. I shall
    try this recipe tomorrow and will share with you the outcome of it.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe with us,
    Engelda

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