Special Diet Information

Coumadin® (Warfarin)
This recipe is NOT safe for Coumadin (warfarin) users.

This recipe is safe for those who are lactose intolerant.

This is a low sodium recipe.

GERD / Acid Reflux
This recipe contains GERD triggers and those with GERD may wish to avoid it.

Gluten Sensitivity
This recipe is safe for those who are sensitive to gluten.


"Society is like a stew. If you don't stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top."
-Edward Abbey

The refrigerator light goes on...

This is a lovely, soft and seemingly unassuming stew. As with most Middle Eastern food the flavors are complex and rich. The combination of saffron, cinnamon, chicken and mint is sweet, savory and spicy. Perfect for a cold winter night.


Saffron filaments are the dried red stigmas and the white style of crocus flowers. For me this has always been a lovely twist of fate because crocus are my favorite flower. I remember that they were the first flower that I could call by name. Our front yard was covered with them. Little did I know their value.

Describing the flavor of saffron is difficult because the taste is so complex. It is at once aromatic, woody, and umami with just a touch of sweetness. To me saffron tastes yellow - like a warm summer day in the woods.

I suppose that you could go out in the yard and pick the flowers, pulling the stigma out for drying yourself, but I prefer to pick up a few grams at the store. Besides, a gram of saffron about 500 threads. As each flower only yields 3 threads, going to the market is quite a bit easier. 

Most of the available saffron is harvested in Spain, but countries in the Middle East, including Iran, are popular producers. The latter saffron is not as intense to my palate and I generally try to find the Spanish import.

How much saffron? I generally use about 10 threads per serving, counting them out carefully. For some recipes I will make a saffron infusion: essentially saffron tea. I place the saffron in the bottom of a Pyrex measuring cup and add about a quarter cup of boiling water. Letting the threads steep in this way results in a more powerful aromatic saffron flavor especially in quick saute recipes.

For you saffron junkies out there John Humphries has written a lovely book called The Saffron Companion. I must admit that I don't purchase many specialty cookbooks like this one, but his writing is so wonderful, and because most of the recipes are Mediterranean or Middle Eastern they are both delicious and healthy.


Lebanese Chicken Stew

Servings = 4 | Serving size =about 2 cups

Cooking Time = 90 Minutes

This recipe can be multiplied by 2, 3, 4.

This recipe makes great leftovers.

Serve with Brown Rice

2 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 Tbsp fresh ginger (minced)
1 large leek (thinly sliced; white and green parts separated)
4 Tbsp garbanzo flour
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
1/2 tsp saffron threads
2 cups no salt added vegetable stock
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried peppermint
1 15 ounce can no salt added diced tomatoes
4 dried apricots (diced)

Lebanese Chicken Stew
Preheat the oven to 325F.

Place two teaspoons of the olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat.

Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about two minutes. Stir frequently.

Add the green part of the leek and cook for about two minutes. Stir frequently.

Add the white part of the leek and cook for about five minutes. Stir frequently.

Remove the leeks to a bowl.

Place the garbanzo flour in a brown paper bag.

Add the chicken thighs to the bag and shake well until coated.

Place 4 teaspoons of the olive oil to the pan over medium high heat.

When the oil is hot add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides (about 5 10 minutes).

Add the leeks, saffron, vegetable stock, water, cinnamon, peppermint, tomatoes, and apricots.

Stir well and cover.

Place the pot in the oven and cook for 60 minutes. Stir about every 15 minutes.

Serve over brown rice.

Nutrition Facts

Serving size = about 2 cups

Servings = 4


Amount Per Serving

Calories 301 Calories from Fat 107
  % Daily Value
Total Fat 11g 20%
    Saturated Fat 2g 8%
    Monounsaturated Fat 6g
    Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 94mg 32%
Sodium 417mg 17%
Total Carbohydrates 23g 8%
    Dietary Fiber 4g 12%
    Sugars 9g
Protein 24g
Vitamin A 34% Vitamin C 26%
Calcium 8% Iron 24%
Vitamin K 51 mcg Potassium 659 mg
Magnesium 70 mg