Venetian chicken

Venetian Almond Milk Chicken with Saffron and Dates

This recipe is based on one handwritten in a 14th century cookbook from Venice. At the time the city lay at the end of the fabled Silk Road, the European hub of spices and silks arriving from the East. Just as Venetian art and architecture drew on Islamic influence, so too can you see it in this sweetly spiced braise.

Serves 4

  • 8 skin on, bone in chicken thighs

  • 1 tablespoon plain flour

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 small onions, finely chopped

  • 60g ginger, peeled and finely chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander

  • pinch of ground cloves

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 400ml unsweetened almond milk

  • 2 tablespoons verjuice (optional)

  • pinch of saffron

  • 2 tablespoons date syrup

  • 4 dried dates, stoned and quartered

  • 2 tablespoon toasted almond flakes, to serve

  • handful coriander leaves, to serve



Season the chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper then dust with the flour.

 Set a large casserole pan over a medium-high heat and when hot, add the olive oil. Add the chicken thighs and brown to a deep golden on all sides. Remove to a plate, leaving the oil behind.

Add the onions to the pan and cook to soften but not colour. Stir in the ginger, garlic, spices and bay leaves and cook for a couple of minutes longer until fragrant. Return the chicken thighs to the pan in a layer.

Pour in the almond milk and verjuice, scrunch in the strands of saffron and add the date syrup and whole dates. Season with salt. Bring to a bubble then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour. The chicken should be tender and falling from the bone.

Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and turn up the heat. Bubble the sauce until it has reduced and thickened. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve the chicken in the sauce, scattered with toasted almond and fresh coriander.


Recipe: Eleanor Ford          Image: Joe Woodhouse and Olia Hercules         Taken from: A House with a Date Palm Will Never Starve by Michael Rakowitz and Friends