Chicken Zafrani
Chicken Zafrani
5 from 1 vote
Chicken zafrani is a rich and aromatic dish that pays homage to the culinary traditions of the Indian subcontinent. Infused with the luxurious touch of saffron, this recipe promises a delightful taste journey that both beginners and expert cooks will appreciate.
Chicken Zafrani

Chicken Zafrani is a dish that tantalizes the taste buds with its rich flavors and aromatic spices. Originating from the Mughlai cuisine of the Indian subcontinent, this dish has a history steeped in royalty and culinary excellence.

The name “Zafrani” itself comes from the Persian word “zafran,” which means saffron, a key ingredient in this recipe.

Despite its regal origins, Chicken Zafrani is surprisingly easy to prepare, making it an ideal choice for home cooks looking to elevate their culinary skills.

The combination of tender chicken pieces marinated in a yogurt-based sauce infused with saffron, along with a blend of fragrant spices, creates a dish that is both comforting and exotic.

While the recipe may seem intimidating at first glance, fear not! With simple step-by-step instructions and readily available ingredients, you can recreate the magic of Chicken Zafrani right in your own kitchen.

Expert Tip: Garnish the Chicken Zafrani with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice before serving to brighten the flavors and add a tangy twist.


Chicken: Chicken provides a protein-rich base for Chicken Zafrani. Its mild flavor allows it to absorb the rich marinade and spices, resulting in tender and flavorful bites.

Onion: Finely chopped onions add sweetness and depth to the dish, complementing the savory flavors of the chicken and spices.

Ginger Garlic Paste: A combination of ginger and garlic adds a fragrant and pungent kick to the marinade, enhancing the overall flavor profile of the dish.

Yogurt: Yogurt serves as the base for the marinade, imparting a creamy texture and tangy flavor to the chicken. It also helps to tenderize the meat and lock in moisture.

Oil: Used for cooking the onions and chicken, oil adds richness and helps to brown the ingredients evenly.

Saffron Strands: The highlight of the dish, saffron lends its distinctive golden hue and delicate aroma to Chicken Zafrani. It infuses the dish with a subtle floral flavor, elevating it to a gourmet level.

Spices (Cardamom Pods, Cinnamon Stick, Cloves, Cumin Powder, Coriander Powder, Turmeric, Chilli Powder): A blend of aromatic spices including cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder adds layers of flavor and warmth to the dish.

Salt: Essential for seasoning, salt balances the flavors of the marinade and spices, ensuring a harmonious taste.

Coriander: Freshly chopped coriander leaves are used as a garnish, adding a pop of color and freshness to the finished dish.

Expert Tip: For a creamier texture, you can substitute Greek yogurt for regular yogurt in the marinade.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve Chicken Zafrani hot, garnished with freshly chopped coriander leaves, alongside naan bread, rice, or your choice of bread.
  • Accompany the dish with traditional Indian side dishes such as cucumber raita, mint chutney, or pickled onions for a complete meal experience.

Expert Tip: For extra depth of flavor, toast the whole spices (cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves) in the pan before adding the onions. This releases their essential oils and enhances their fragrance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?

Yes, you can use chicken thighs for a juicier and more flavorful result. Adjust the cooking time accordingly as thighs may require slightly longer to cook through.

Is it necessary to marinate the chicken?

Marinating the chicken helps to tenderize the meat and allows the flavors to penetrate. However, if you’re short on time, you can marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes, although longer marination yields more flavorful results.

Can I substitute saffron with any other ingredient?

Saffron is a key ingredient that gives Chicken Zafrani its distinctive flavor and color. While there is no exact substitute for saffron, you can omit it if necessary, although the dish will lack its characteristic aroma and hue.

How do I know when the chicken is cooked through?

The chicken is cooked through when it is no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear. You can also use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 165°F (75°C).

Can I make Chicken Zafrani ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the dish in advance and reheat it before serving. Store the cooked chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through.

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Chicken Zafrani

Chicken Zafrani

by Nabeela Kauser
Chicken zafrani is a rich and aromatic dish that pays homage to the culinary traditions of the Indian subcontinent. Infused with the luxurious touch of saffron.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 374 kcal


  • 800 g Chicken
  • 1 Onion Finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 100 g Yoghurt
  • 50 ml Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Saffron Strands
  • 3-4 Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 4-5 Cloves
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • Salt Adjust to taste
  • Coriander Chopped (for garnish)


  • In a small bowl, soak the saffron strands in 2 tbsp of warm water. Set it aside to infuse.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, red chili powder, and salt. Mix well to form a marinade.
  • Add the chicken pieces to the marinade, ensuring they are well coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  • In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the cooking oil or ghee over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until it turns golden brown.
  • Add the green cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and cloves to the pan. Sauté for another minute to release their flavours.
  • Add the marinated chicken along with the marinade to the pan. Cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the chicken simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until it’s cooked through and tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • While the chicken is cooking, add the soaked saffron (along with the water it was soaked in) to the pan. Mix gently to distribute the saffron colour and flavour.
  • Once the chicken is cooked, check for seasoning and adjust salt and spice levels if needed.
  • Garnish the Chicken Zafrani with chopped cilantro leaves.
  • Serve the Chicken Zafrani hot with naan, rice, or your choice of bread.


This recipe uses bone-in chicken for added flavour, but you can use boneless chicken if preferred.
Make sure not to include any milk in the recipe as per the notes.
Adjust the spice levels according to your preference.
The saffron adds a wonderful aroma and colour to the dish; make sure to infuse it in warm water before adding.
The longer you marinate the chicken, the more flavourful it will be.
Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 374kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 21gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 90mgPotassium: 311mgFibre: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 293IUVitamin C: 4mgVitamin D: 0.2µgCalcium: 71mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Chicken, Curry, Food, Indian, Recipe
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!



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Cook with Nabeela

Hi, I'm Nabeela!

I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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