Summary: Chicken celery stew is a light and delicious food from Iranian cuisine
It is possible to cook the chicken celery stew all-year-long since you can find celery and chicken at any time in grocery stores. The food is a perfect pick for Ramadan since is it filling and nutritious. I like this food’s “feel and eat” concept. I never feel saggy and tired after eating chicken celery stew.
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Prep time: 15 min.
Cooking time: 1 hr
Ready in: 1 hrs 15 min.
Chicken Celery Stew
1 head of celery, stalks & leaves chopped, washed & rinsed
3 chicken breast halves
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 12 oz. can of tomato paste
2 medium potatoes, diced into cubes
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
¼ cup lemon juice (or juice of a whole lemon)
1 teaspoon Salt, 1 ½ teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
2 cups Basmati Rice
2 tablespoons salt
2-3 tablespoons canola oil
1- Put oil in a pot over high heat. Add chopped onions. Stir frequently until nearly translucent. Lower heat to medium and add turmeric powder. Stir until the onions turn golden brown.
2- Add chopped celery stalks and leaves to the pot. Before adding celeries, make sure the ends of celery stalks are thoroughly washed and clear of any dirt. Keep the heat on medium and stir occasionally for 3-4 minutes. The stalks contain a lot of water, therefore it takes a while for their tissue to break gradually and become soft on the outside.
3- Arrange the chickens over the celery mix. Since chicken breast in naturally very low in fat and tends to be dry, I cut each halves into three pieces and then sliced each piece. They will become quite juicy and flavorful after the sauce is added. Cover. Keep the heat on medium-low. Let them sit for 5 minutes, then stir, making sure all chicken pieces have changed color from pink to ivory-white. This way the chicken pieces will be steam-cooked.
4- Dissolve the tomato paste with 4 cups of hot water. Add to the pot. Stir. Put the lid back on. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook for another 30 minutes on medium heat. At this point the chicken must be completely tender to a knife poke and the liquid should have thickened considerably.
5- Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes to allow the taste to set in.
6- In the meantime, prepare the potato cubes for garnish. Add 2 TBS of canola oil to a skillet over high heat. After rinsing the potato cubes, dry the cubes in a paper towel then add to the skillet. Sprinkle some salt over the cubes to prevent them from sticking together. It would be best to soak the potatoes in water for a few minutes. It prevents cubed potatoes from oxidation and turning brown while waiting to be sautéed as well as helping to reduce their starchiness. Any kind of potato (except for sweet potato) can be used in this recipe. However, it is better to use a kind that maintains its texture after being sautéed and added to the stew. I had red-skinned potatoes at hand. Golden potatoes are a good choice as well. When they are done to your desired tenderness, remove from heat, spread them on a paper towel to remove excess oil.
7- Wash 2 cups of Basmati rice under lukewarm water. Drain. Repeat rinse and drain (4-5 times) until the water runs clear. This will help to wash away the excess starch and prevent the rice from becoming too mushy. Fill the pot with cold water 1 ½ times more than the amount of rice. Add about 2 TBS of salt to water. Bring to a boil. As soon as the rice appears floating on the surface, lower heat to avoid overflowing of the foam. Give it 3-4 minutes before removing it from heat to drain in a colander. Rinse the rice with cold water for 15 seconds to remove excess starch.
8- Drizzle the oil in a pot over medium high heat. Return the rice gradually to the pot, forming it into a dome as you add on. Pour ¼ cups of water over the rice, put the lid on and let it sweat. When steam appears to escape the pot, lower the heat, wrap the lid in a cloth or two sheets of paper towel and let the rice cook for another 15 minutes.