This unique chicken recipe combines fragrant spices, boneless chicken, dried apricots, pistachios and lemon to create a sweet and spicy dish that’s reminiscent of yellow curry, but much more mellow.

Middle Eastern Spiced Chicken with Apricots

It’s an adaptation of a recipe from The Silk Road Gourmet by Laura Kelley, a fascinating and detailed cookbook featuring recipes from Western and Southern Asia.

The Silk Road Gourmet explores the cuisines of the Republic of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka and flows from country to country along the famed ancient trade route.

Each country’s recipes are organized by course and the author has skillfully adapted them for easy preparation in Western kitchens. If you enjoy creative cooking, this book will provide you with a world of inspiration and be a great addition to your cookbook library.

Middle Eastern Spiced Chicken with Apricots

Middle Eastern Spiced Chicken with Apricots

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This unique chicken recipe uses a blend of fragrant spices, dried apricots, pistachios and lemon to make a sweet and spicy dish that’s delicious served over couscous or rice.


  • 1-1/4 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts, shelled (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the spice blend:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Make the spice blend by combining the salt, sugar, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne and a few grinds of black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sauté until no longer pink on the outside, 2 minutes. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan along with the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, sprinkle with the spice blend and continue cooking until the garlic softens and the spices are fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
  • Deglaze the pan with 2 or 3 tablespoons of the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits that may have accumulated on the bottom. Stir in the remaining broth, then add the apricots and pistachios.
  • Return the chicken to the pan and simmer until it’s cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and cayenne. Cook 1 minute more, taste and add more cayenne if desired.
  • Serve over couscous or steamed rice and spoon the sauce over the top. You can also add a dollop of plain yogurt if desired.

Tips for Making This Recipe

If you are using raw pistachios, you might want to toast them a bit for extra flavor before adding them to the recipe. (Thanks to Susan for this tip!)
Recipe adapted from “The Silk Road Gourmet” by Laura Kelley © iUniverse 2009
Calories: 307kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 34mg, Sodium: 645mg, Potassium: 531mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 801IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 51mg, Iron: 2mg
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