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Delicious Pomegranate Chicken

Pomegranate chicken is one of those classic recipes you can find in pretty much every Mediterranean cookbook. It’s comfort food, with a sauce similar to bar-b-que, packing a lot of flavorful punch even with its humble preparation method. 

While the dish is common, cooks from different regions apply their own personalities to this tasty dish, keeping the critical ingredients, pomegranates, and chicken, intact. 

Pomegranate Chicken
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

When you dive into bite after bite of this delicious chicken dish, you will enjoy a perfect balance of sweet and sour, mostly derived from the sweet but biting pomegranate molasses. I suggest you buy this ingredient, so you can make this dish with ease on regular occasions.

Ingredients 

  • 3 Chicken Thighs 
  • 1 15-ish oz. Can of Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans (drained and rinsed) 
  • 2 TBSP Pomegranate Molasses 
  • 1 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil (Plus more for oiling the pan/cooking the chicken) 
  • 1 TBSP Tomato Paste 
  • 1 tsp. Ginger Paste
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Paprika 
  • 1 tsp. Sumac
  • 1/2 tsp. Cardamom 
  • 1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
  • Salt (To Taste) 
  • Pepper (To Taste) 
Ingredients for Pomegranate Chicken.

Serve With (Optional)

  • Saffron Rice 
  • Fresh Cilantro for topping 
  • Pomegranate Morels 
  • Toasted Almonds
Closeup of small pieces of chicken on blue cutting board.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Why Chicken Thighs? 

While chicken breasts commonly find their way into recipes, I prefer chicken thighs any day. 

Commonly referred to as dark meat, the thighs pack a lot of juicy, delicious flavor in every morsel. The fat in chicken thighs makes them a more forgiving piece of meat. The fat renders into flavor and juices that protect the chicken from drying out. Take that, chicken breasts. 

Hands spooning dark paste onto pieces of chicken.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Substitutions 

If you must use other parts of the chicken, chicken breasts or wings may be used for a delicious new version of this recipe.

You can skip the chicken and add more chickpeas if you want a vegetarian version of this dish. 

Chicken and spices cooking in pot.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

The Method

I wanted to make more of a stir-fried version of this Mediterranean delicacy, so I cut my chicken into small pieces, adding my sauce and chickpeas, and pouring them over rice once cooked. This was the perfect lunch. You can also roast the chickens whole in the oven or toss them on the grill for that true BBQ feel. 

Hand using meat thermometer to test the internal temperature of chicken pieces.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Very Important Note: Always make sure your chicken is cooked by checking the temperature or by cutting into the chicken. If the inside of your chicken is fully cooked, the color will no longer be pink.

Close up of onion half and hands slicing onion on blue cutting board.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
Hands slicing garlic cloves next to pile of sliced onions.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Onions and Garlic

For savory saute sessions these two ingredients add depth of flavor to other ingredients. Be sure to get your oil hot to bring out the sweet undertones in onions and garlic.

Sliced onions, salt, and ground black pepper in pan.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
Chopped garlic added to the cooking onions in the pan.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
Chickpeas added to the spiced chicken pieces in pot.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans

Chickpeas provide a little extra protein to this meal and a nice nuttiness. 

Chickpeas taste like a less intense version of peanuts in a softer shell. They are often used in vegetarian meals to replace meat. 

Chicken and chickpeas cooking in sauce.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Substitutions

White beans or Navy beans may be used in place of chickpeas for similar results. 

Hands pouring pomegranate molasses into red measuring spoon over small bowl of spices.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Pomegranate Molasses

Sticky, sweet, and a little bit sour, pomegranate molasses makes the perfect coating for chicken. I love the subtle, pungency it adds to our sauce. 

Pomegranate molasses can be hard to find in grocery stores, but you can order it here. Believe me, you will want to make this pomegranate chicken again and again once you have tasted it. Your taste buds will be thanking you for this great investment in their happiness. 

Bowl of spices and pomegranate molasses with measuring spoon resting in the bowl.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Balsamic Vinegar 

For an extra kick of acid, I added balsamic vinegar. This added sourness and brightness to the chicken. 

Substitutions 

Red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or other vinegar may be used in place of balsamic. 

Hands pouring olive oil into measuring spoon over bowl of spices.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Olive Oil

Fats like oils and butter are so important in cooking, because they add a layer of protection to your foods, allowing them to brown quicker without sticking to the pan and tearing into unattractive bits. Fats also idle on your tongue, keeping the flavors present longer and adding a delightful mouthfeel to every ingredient they touch. 

Hands measuring olive oil into measuring spoon over pot.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Substitutions

Butter, grapeseed oil, canola oil, or peanut oil may be used in place of olive oil.

Tomato Paste

Tomato paste grounds the sauce with a bit of savory, zesty flavor. In most Bar-b-que sauces, tomatoes, in some capacity, are implemented. This Pomegranate chicken sauce similarly uses tomatoes as a flavor booster. 

Hand writing note on paper using Sharpie pen.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Ginger Paste 

A brightening element that pairs beautifully with pomegranate, ginger paste, mixes in with the deep flavors of tomato and the sweet and sour ingredients, providing extra balance to this dish. 

Substitutions 

Fresh ginger or ginger powder may be used in place of ginger paste. 

Closeup of bottle of ground cumin.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Cumin 

Cumin has a slightly smokey, warming taste. I love the way it pairs with nutty and sweet ingredients, bringing in a toasty, earthy taste that makes dishes feel cozier and somehow more exotic at the same time. 

Hands using measuring spoon to scoop out paprika from small spice bottle.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Paprika

Paprika comes in many varieties. Sweet paprika, Hungarian paprika, Smoked paprika, etc… in this recipe I went with ordinary paprika which added a subtle bitter and fruity taste to the pomegranate sauce. 

Hands hold bottle of ground sumac spice and measuring spoon of ground sumac.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Sumac 

Sumac has a sour flavor, most easily compared to an earthy lemon.

Without extra sour notes, the sweet pomegranate can veer toward too sweet, but this spice gives it balance. 

Substitutions

A squeeze of lemon and a little thyme may be used in place of Sumac in this recipe. 

Hands pouring cardamom from small bottle into measuring spoon over small bowl.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Cardamom 

Cardamom, one of my favorite spices, tastes like a brighter, fruitier version of cinnamon. The flavor tastes great in Mediterranean and Asian savory foods as well as in baked goods. If you have never tried it, you are in for a treat. 

Hand pouring measuring spoon of chili powder into bowl of spices.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Chili Powder 

A light smokey, heat comes from the addition of chili powder in our pomegranate chicken. I cannot imagine a bar-b-que type sauce without this spice. It provides warmth and kick that will make your tongue celebrate its good flavor.

Substitutions

Cayenne or smoked paprika may be used in place of Chili Powder. 

Steaming pot of saffron rice on counter.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Saffron Rice

In Mediterranean culture, Saffron rice is as common as spaghetti is to Italian cuisine. I used a simple recipe of chicken stock, salt. white rice, a few small strands of saffron to get the most beautiful yellow, pillowy rice you could imagine. 

Overhead view of container of uncooked white rice.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
Glass measure of chicken broth.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
Hand pouring uncooked white rice into boiling chicken broth in pot.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
Hands removing strands of saffron from small container.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Saffron reminds me of butter or vanilla, but more savory and earthy. Its flavor might be the hardest of any ingredient to describe, but it’s worth trying and enjoying, believe me!

Closeup of cut pomegranate halves.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Pomegranate Morels

 The tiny, edible seeds inside of a pomegranate are called morels. They are filled with delicious juices and packed with flavor. Their texture adds crunchiness to this dish. 

Hands removing pomegranate arils into bowl.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Toasted Almonds

I love the warmth of toasted almonds on top of this chicken. They add warmth and compositional variety to this lovely meal. 

Almonds toasting in a small pan.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Storage 

This dish can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for about 1 week or frozen for up to one month. 

Overhead view of stovetop with chicken and chickpeas on stove burner next to covered pot of saffron rice.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Pairings 

Make yourself a Mediterranean feast by serving your chicken with Kadu (a delicious Mediterranean pumpkin stew), pumpkin hummus, and this beautiful fall salad

The pomegranate sauce reminds me very much of bar-b-que sauce, making it a perfect pairing with crisp beers, or red wines, like cabernet sauvignon that have enough bold flavor to stand up to the strength of the pomegranate flavors. 

Pomegranate Chicken

This dish is simple and homey, yet impressive. The simple process of making pomegranate chicken makes it a great meal for serving several friends with little hassle. Plan your next party, and be sure to delight your guests with this delicious recipe. 

Pinterest image of Pomegranate Chicken.
Pomegranate Chicken

Delicious Pomegranate Chicken

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes

When you dive into bite after bite of this delicious chicken dish, you will enjoy a perfect balance of sweet and sour, mostly derived from the sweet but biting pomegranate molasses. I suggest you buy this ingredient, so you can make this dish with ease on regular occasions.

Ingredients

  • 3 Chicken Thighs 
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 15-ish oz. Can of Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans (drained and rinsed) 
  • 2 TBSP Pomegranate Molasses 
  • 1 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil (Plus more for oiling the pan/cooking the chicken) 
  • 1 TBSP Tomato Paste 
  • 1 tsp. Ginger Paste
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Paprika 
  • 1 tsp. Sumac
  • 1/2 tsp. Cardamom 
  • 1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
  • Salt (To Taste) 
  • Pepper (To Taste)

Instructions

  1. Cut Chicken thighs into 1 inch pieces.
  2. Combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, tomato paste, ginger paste, cumin, paprika, sumac, cardamom, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Rub the sauce all over the chicken.
  3. Heat a large sautee pan over medium heat on the stove. Cover your sautee pan with olive oil. Once the oil is heated, add your onions and sautee for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic to your pan and sautee for one minute.
  5. Add your chicken to the pan. Cook for 10 minutes before adding the chickpeas.
  6. Continue cooking for 5-10 minutes checking the chicken's temperature regularly. When the temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, your delicious pomegranate chicken is ready to serve.
  7. Pour over rice and add any additional toppings.

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