Tahchin-Morgh with Quinoa

Samira Ardalan - Saturday, December 10, 2016



Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat and contains almost twice the amount of fiber as most grains, which is great for our digestive system! This gluten-free, natural ingredient is a beneficial substitute for rice in this traditional delicacy known to Iranians as "Tahchin," or rice cake. This recipe is nutty, savory, moist and full of exotic flavors. Nourishing Persian barberries make this dish colorful and medicinal. Its sharp taste is neutralized in this recipe and most Persian cooking, by sauteing in butter, sugar and saffron water until it's sweet and tart. 


Chicken Thighs:

1 lb. skinned and de-boned chicken thighs (heating)

1 large yellow onion, chopped (heating)

1 tsp chopped garlic (heating)

2 tsp saffron water (use a mortar & pestle to grind down the saffron. Once ground, transfer to a small glass bowl, cup or mug. Add a small amount of hot water to the ground spice and let sit for 15-20 minutes before using in your recipes. Refrigerate after use) (heating)

Pinch of turmeric (heating)

1 cup chicken broth (heating)


1. Season chicken: Lay out your chicken thighs on a cutting board and lightly drizzle with olive oil on all sides. Next, add salt, pepper and a pinch of turmeric. 

2. Slowly cook: Turn your pot on to medium-low heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and let that heat up. Add your chicken to the pan, and after a couple of minutes as the temperature slowly rises, add your onions, garlic, and saffron water.

3. Cover the pan: Now that the chicken is slowly cooking, cover the pot and allow the first side of the chicken to cook a bit with the onion, garlic,  and saffron juices, about 20 minutes.

4. Turn the chicken: Remove the lid and turn over your chicken thighs. By now you should notice the onions are a golden yellow color, beginning to caramelize, building flavor and moisture in the meat. Cover and simmer for another 20 minutes.

5. Add your liquid: At any point that you see the pan getting too dry before this step, please add some of your water or broth. If by now, the chicken has accumulated enough natural juices, it's the best time to add your broth to create a rich broth to later combine with a quinoa before baking.

6. Simmer for 3 hours: Simmer your chicken for 3 hours and then turn off the heat and let your chicken cool before shredding.


Quinoa Tahchin Mixture:

1 cup cooked quinoa (any variety) (heating)

Olive oil (heating)

4 cups water or chicken broth (heating)

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (cooling)

1 tsp saffron water (heating)

1 egg (heating)

2 tsp salt (cooling)

1 tsp black pepper (heating)


1. Rinse the quinoa: Rinse 2 cups of quinoa with cool water for 2 minutes. Rub and swish the quinoa with your hand while rinsing. Drain.

2. Toast quinoa in saucepan: Heat a nice drizzle of olive oil in the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat, then add drained quinoa with salt and pepper. Toast for 3-4 minutes or until the water evaporates, and the quinoa turns a light golden brown.
3. Add liquid to quinoa: Add all 4 cups of water or broth to the quinoa and bring to a boil.

4. Lower heat to simmer: Cover the pot with a lid and simmer the quinoa for 15 minutes on low heat.

5. Let stand, covered: Let your quinoa stand for 5-7 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Do not remove cover during this time.

6. Create Rice Cake Mixture: Pour half of your cooked and fluffed quinoa to a mixing bowl. Add yogurt, saffron water, egg, salt, pepper and mix until everything's moist and combined.


Barberries with Butter Sugar & Saffron Water

2 cups barberries (cooling)

1-2 tbsp sugar (heating)

1 tsp saffron water (heating)

1 tbsp butter (heating)


1. Melt butter: on medium low heat until it begins to bubble.

2. Add barberries: saute berries in butter. Add sugar and saffron water and cook together for 2-3 minutes.

3. Turn heat off: stir the mixture to combine and immediately serve on top of quinoa.


Layering Your Tahchin:

1. Layer 1: Spray a glass or aluminum Pyrex baking pan with olive oil spray or any healthy cooking oil to grease the pan. Take a little more than half of your mixture and press it into the bottom of the pan in all four corners to create an even layer.

2. Layer 2: Add shredded pieces of saffron chicken on top of the first layer until all the quinoa is evenly covered. 

3. Layer 3: Sprinkle the rest of the quinoa and yogurt mixture on top the chicken and smooth over with the back of a spoon.

4. Layer 4: Add the rest of the plain cook quinoa on top and push down to create a layered cake.

5. Add cooked juices: Poor the remaining chicken, saffron and onion juices on top of the cake.

6. Cover and bake: Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 2 hours.

7. Plate and decorate: Top with cooked barberries and toasted almonds.




May Your Soul Be Nourished!


Photography by Samira Ardalan



Midwest Environmental Changes & Autumn Weeknight Meals

Samira Ardalan - Saturday, November 19, 2016


It's mid autumn here in the Midwest, and today we had our first small trickle of snow. While we are all preparing for what some say may be brutal winter, it's a surprise that Chicago's evening and winter temperatures have actually gotten warmer over the last several decades. During a time like this, I always go back to Avicenna's 6 Nurturing essentials to living a healthy lifestyle. Our environment is on this list and is an essential factor in determining our state of health. Air quality and weather conditions may have a negative impact on us, and the food & drink we consume can help assist in preventing imbalances in our body, mind and spirit.


According to the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency), major heat waves have been occurring more frequently across the region for decades, and heat stress is likely to increase in the future as a result of continued rises in temperature and humidity in this region.[1]

Earlier this week I headed to the market for inspiration and decided to pick up a variety of ingredients with complex carbohydrates, such as spaghetti squash, in addition to wholesome meats and vegetables that will store as energy reserves for the body this Autumn.[2] We utilized unique middle eastern and Mediterranean heating spices and herbs to create balance and warming flavors. To understand more about heating and cooling foods, and what ingredients are best for you, visit our step by step instructions.



You can find a complete tour of our recipes from this week by following us here on Instagram!


Turkey Meatballs and Napa Cabbage in Lemon Broth

Spices: Star Anise, Bay Leaf, Carrots, Garlic, Cilantro



Whole Roasted Cauliflower with White Tahini Lemon Garlic Sauce & Pomegranate

Spices: Saffron water, Parsley, Kosher Salt, Black Pepper



Grilled Chicken Romaine Caesar Salad

Dressing: Garlic, Anchovy, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Organic Mayo, Dijon Mustard, Parmesan, Lemon



Persian Tea with Cardamom

Warming and delicious! Did you know if you chew cardamom regularly after meals, it will strengthen the stomach, improve digestion, and increase appetite? Cardamom is one of the most valuable spices in the world due to its rich aroma and therapeutic properties.



Avicenna's 6 Nurturing Essentials are:

1. Air & Environment

2. Physical Rest & Activity

3. Sleep & Wakefulness

4. Emotions & Aromatherapy

5. Retention & Evacuation

6. Food, Diet & Drink


Follow Avicenna Cuisine on social media for all natural, healthy & delicious Persian & Mediterranean cooking, recipes, and health tips!




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Photography by Samira Ardalan



[1] EPA - US Environmental Protection Agency "Climate Impacts in the Midwest," 2016.

[2] A 2nd Opinion, by Natural Health Inc, Dr. Gene Ridley, "Articles, Beauty, & Skincare, Food & Nutrition, Mind, Stress & Balance, Seasonal Considerations & Cleansing," 2013.