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Chicken and Vegetable Bake in Pomegranate Molasses; Eksili Tavuk

Chicken and vegetables bake in pomegranate molasses and lemon sauce; Eksili Tavuk

Chicken and vegetables bake in pomegranate molasses and lemon sauce; Eksili Tavuk

Inspiration for this delicious, gluten-free recipe, Eksili Tavuk; Chicken in lemon and pomegranate molasses sauce with vegetables, came from dear Janet, who is part of the wonderful blog, Archers of Okcular. Janet and Alan have been enjoying Eksili Tavuk, traditionally made with the delicious whole chicken from the villages nearby; I can just imagine how tasty that chicken must be. She asked me the recipe and so glad she did. After some research, I came up with my version of Eksili Tavuk, using some seasonal vegetables like celeriac and chard in it. We greatly enjoyed this dish and I owe a big thanks to Janet!

Marinating the chicken in pomegranate molasses, red pepper paste, garlic and spices add a lot of flavor.

Marinating the chicken in pomegranate molasses, red pepper paste, garlic and spices add a lot of flavor.

Traditional Eksili Tavuk in the Aegean Region is made with cooking a whole chicken in plenty of water and adding vegetables like potato, carrots and onions to it, as well as the lemon sauce. I have seen flour being used in the broth to thicken the sauce; it is a delicious dish. I have used chicken breast in my version and added celeriac and chard to the vegetable mix. I have also added pomegranate molasses in the sauce; celeriac especially has been a perfect pair to the chicken in the tangy lemon and pomegranate sauce; the sweet and savory flavors really complemented one another very well (Pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi is widely used especially in southern Turkish cooking and add great flavor to salads, mezzes, stews. You can make your own pomegranate molasses with my recipe here, if you’d like). Marinating the chicken in cumin, red pepper flakes, garlic, tomato paste, red pepper paste, biber salcasi (if used), lemon juice and pomegranate molasses really worth the effort, add a delicious flavor to the chicken.

I baked my eksili tavuk; chicken with vegetables in pomegranate and lemon juice sauce, in the oven. It turned out to be an easy, wholesome and delicious all in one pot dish that we loved and will be revisiting often. Many thanks for the inspiration, Janet, hope you all enjoy it!

Eksili Tavuk; baked chicken and vegetables in lemon and pomegranate sauce

Eksili Tavuk; baked chicken and vegetables in lemon and pomegranate sauce

Afiyet Olsun,


4.0 from 1 reviews
Chicken and Vegetable Bake in Pomegranate Molasses; Eksili Tavuk
An easy, wholesome and delicious all in one pot chicken and vegetables bake with pomegranate molasses and lemon sauce, inspired by the Agean region's Eksili Tavuk. Celeriac especially here really worked well with the sweet & savory pomegranate molasses; a wonderful dish we loved and will be revisiting often. Afiyet Olsun!
Recipe type: Healthy & gluten-free chicken and vegetable casserole
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
  • 500 gr / 1 ¼ lb. chicken breast or boneless thighs, skinned
  • 175 gr/ 6 oz. chard, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 small carrots, quartered and sliced in small chunks
  • 1 small celeriac root, cut in small, chunky strips (about 4 cm log, 1 cm wide)
  • 2 onions, quartered and sliced thinly
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. concentrated tomato paste
  • ½ tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi (optional)
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 30 ml/ 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1.2 liters/2 pints/5 cups water
  • 10 ml/ 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 10 ml / 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F
  2. Cut the chicken into small chunks and place in a large bowl.
  3. Marinate the chicken in cumin, red pepper flakes, garlic, tomato paste, red pepper paste (if used), lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well so that all the ingredients coat the chicken pieces. Cover and keep in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.
  4. While the chicken is marinating, prepare the vegetables. Cut the outer skin of celeriac root and slice in chunky strips. Rub the celeriac with 1 tbsp. lemon juice to avoid discoloring.
  5. Combine the celeriac with the other vegetables chopped, except chard, in a baking dish. Add the 2 tbsp. olive oil, season with salt and ground black pepper and mix well.
  6. Stir in the marinated chicken to the vegetables mixture and combine well.
  7. Pour in the1.2 liters/2 pints/5 cups water and mix well.
  8. Cover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  9. After 30 minutes, stir in the chopped chard to the mixture and give a good stir. Cover and bake 10 -15 minutes more, until the chard is tender and chicken is cooked.
  10. Serve hot with crusty bread aside.

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14 Responses to Chicken and Vegetable Bake in Pomegranate Molasses; Eksili Tavuk

  1. senior dogs abroad January 5, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

    Özlem’ciğim, Brilliant minds (yours and J’s) working together can’t help but produce a winning recipe! I love the seasonality of it and what with our winter weather having fully arrived, this dish seems perfect for a cozy evening at home. Thanks to you and J ve çok öpüyorum, sevgilerimizle xxx Jolee

    • Ozlem Warren January 5, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

      Many thanks sevgili Jolee, really grateful to Janet for this! Try celeriac here especially, work so well and we enjoyed the chard too, a comforting meal for this time of the year and easy to make, hope you enjoy it – afiyet olsun, cok sevgilerimle, Ozlem xx

  2. Phil in the Kitchen January 5, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    Lemon, pomegranate molasses and celeriac are three of my favourite flavours especially when I’m looking for something to cheer up a cold winter day. Being so easy to put together just makes it better still.

    • Ozlem Warren January 6, 2015 at 11:49 am #

      Many thanks Phil, you couldn’t sum it up better; flavors really cheer up any cold day – I do love celeriac in tangy lemony sauce with a bit of sweetness from pomegranate molasses, many thanks.

  3. Peri's Spice Ladle January 6, 2015 at 4:37 am #

    I’m always looking for interesting chicken recipes, Ozlem, and this is so beautifully filled with flavors and vegetables. XxPeri.

    • Ozlem Warren January 6, 2015 at 11:48 am #

      Thank you Peri, I think you may enjoy this one – flavors work so well and pomegranate molasses rule!:) Much love, Ozlem x

  4. janet January 6, 2015 at 6:57 am #

    Ozlem – what a lovely surprise! It’s so different from my efforts, I can’t wait to get my hands on another chicken (horoz, actually) and try it out. Thank you. Ellerine sağlık!

    • Ozlem Warren January 6, 2015 at 11:47 am #

      Merhaba Janet, lovely to find your note 🙂 My big thanks to you for the inspiration, I got another pack of chicken, celeriac and all to make it all over again! Do hope you enjoy it, cok tesekkur ederim ve selamlar, sevgiler, Ozlem x

  5. Rob January 7, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

    Hi Ozlem,

    We really liked this – the lemon and Pomegranate worked really well together, but it took close to 2 hours, not 30 minutes before the celeriac was cooked and the carrot was still a little bit al dente 🙂

    Did you use boiling water and how thick were your carrots and celeriac?


    • Ozlem Warren January 7, 2015 at 10:14 pm #

      Hi Rob, so glad you enjoyed the dish, and many thanks for your note. The carrots and celeriac cut in small chunks (I quartered the carrots and cut in small chunks and cut the celeriac in small strips; about 4 cm long and 1 cm wide, as in the photo). I also updated the recipe with these details, many thanks for that. Mine really took about 40 – 45 minutes (first 30 mins then plus another 15 mins max, once chard is added). I used regular water. I hope this helps, many thanks for giving it a go – pomegranate molasses and lemon really work well together : ) Afiyet olsun, Ozlem

  6. Penny February 17, 2018 at 11:52 pm #

    Is this supposed to be a soup? My sauce was very thin

    • Ozlem Warren February 18, 2018 at 5:01 pm #

      Merhaba Penny, it is a very saucy casserole, with a lot of juices, we liked this way but if you prefer, you can decrease the amount of water, hope you enjoy it, Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem

  7. craig rossetti August 17, 2020 at 8:43 am #

    I also got a very thin soup on half the water. I am putting it on the stove to dry it out.
    Smells great but…maybe i am missing something, again!

    • Ozlem Warren August 17, 2020 at 2:03 pm #

      Hi, this is quite a juicy bake – by all means add less water if you like it drier – glad it smells great, afiyet olsun! Ozlem

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