Roasted Persian Chicken and Cauliflower

PrimalIn this Persian-inspired recipe, chicken and cauliflower are perfumed with saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, black pepper and other spices, then roasted until crisp. The cauliflower is dotted with goji berries, pistachios and slivered almonds, and the chicken is finished with a dusting of parsley and mint. Combined, this is a fragrant, deeply flavorful meal.

This richly spiced dish isn’t just flavorful though. The spices also contribute antioxidants and protection against microbes. This recipe gives measurements for both whole and ground spices?you can choose which to use. Buying whole spices and grinding them (a coffee grinder works well) often means more potent flavor and health benefits. Pre-ground spices are more convenient. Just make sure they’re organic and less than a year old.

Time in the Kitchen: 1 hour 15 minutes

Servings: 4




  • 6 to 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, or 1 tablespoon ground (15 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, or 1 tablespoon ground (15 ml)
  • 4 whole cardamom pods, or ¼ teaspoon ground (1.2 ml)
  • 1-inch/2.5 cm piece cinnamon stick, or 1 teaspoon ground (5 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (2.5 ml)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (1.2 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (5 ml)


  • 1 head cauliflower, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (60 ml)
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled pepper (1.2 ml)
  • 1/2-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, or 1 teaspoon ground (5 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (2.5 ml)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (1.2 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (2.5 ml)
  • 1/4 cup goji berries, soaked in warm water for 5 minutes and drained (30 g)
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds, raw or lightly toasted (50 g)
  • 1/4 cup raw pistachios (40 g)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (60 ml)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mint (60 ml)


Cooking chix

Preheat oven to 425º F/218 C.

In a small bowl, mix together the ground spice blend for the chicken: cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, salt. *

*If using whole spices, first grind the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick in a coffee grinder until finely ground

Rub the spice blend into the chicken pieces.

In a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet, heat about a tablespoon of avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil over medium-high. When the oil is hot, brown the chicken in batches so the skillet isn’t too crowded. Cook 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until skin is starting to get crispy and golden brown.

Place all the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

To make the cauliflower, first warm the olive oil in a small pot. Pour the warm olive oil in a bowl and add the saffron. Let sit 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, pour the saffron oil over the cauliflower. Toss well.

In a small bowl, combine the spice blend for the cauliflower: cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, black pepper and salt. *

*If using whole spices, first grind the cinnamon stick and cumin seeds in a coffee grinder until finely ground.

Sprinkle the spice mixture over the cauliflower, tossing to evenly coat.

Spread the cauliflower out evenly in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet. If one baking sheet is crowding the cauliflower, then use two baking sheets so it can be spread out more.

Put the baking sheets of chicken and cauliflower in the oven. Bake 25 to 35 minutes, until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches at least 165º F /74 C and the cauliflower is darkly browned around the edges.

Toss the cauliflower with the goji berries, almonds and pistachios. Spread out on a platter, and lay the chicken on top. Sprinkle parsley and mint over everything.


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8 thoughts on “Roasted Persian Chicken and Cauliflower”

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    1. This would be way too much spice for me. I prefer to taste the natural flavors of the chicken and vegetables.

  1. I am going to try. May cut back a bit on some of the spices.

  2. I’m eating cauliflower as I’m reading this, but mine is not nearly as exciting! Love that the same spices that make our food taste amazing have such incredible health benefits. This sounds awesome.

  3. Hi all and WorkerBees:
    Happy Groking to Everone and
    Happy New Year
    May you be strong, fast, lean and happy

  4. I absolutely love your recipes. I’ve prepared dozens of them with excellent results. I’ve served your Swedish meatballs at more than one dinner party with great success. And they’ve opened my mind to so many foods I had overlooked, like chicken thighs for example.
    Just one request, can you please add an index page with the small thumbnails so it is easier to scan them all at a glance? Not trying to be ungrateful! But I found it was much easier to peruse the recipes and choose in the earlier MDA website layout.
    Thank you much!!

  5. This looks delicious! I have a question, though.

    In the cauliflower section, there are 3 mentions of pepper:
    – 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled pepper (1.2 ml)
    – 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper (1.2 ml)
    – 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (1.2 ml)

    I’m guessing it’s just a typo in the saffron threads section. Is the “ground pepper” a specific type of pepper other than “ground black pepper?”