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!
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!
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F
- Cut the chicken into small chunks and place in a large bowl.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stir in the marinated chicken to the vegetables mixture and combine well.
- Pour in the1.2 liters/2 pints/5 cups water and mix well.
- Cover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
- 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.
- Serve hot with crusty bread aside.