Sticky pomegranate chicken wraps
In light of the use of pomegranate molasses in this recipe, I have decided that this dish will feature in my family’s Shab-e Yaldā celebrations. Shab-e Yaldā (Yaldā Night) is an Iranian festival which takes place on the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice, usually falling on either 20 or 21 December. From its Zoroastrian routes, Shab-e Yaldā celebrates the renewal of the sun and the victory of light over darkness – the winter solstice marking the lengthening of days, shortening of nights and the advancement towards Spring. Pomegranates are traditionally eaten at this festival as they symbolise the cycle of life. This recipe can be eaten anytime of the year (not just on Shab-e Yaldā) and you can even cook the chicken on a BBQ in the Spring and Summer seasons.
This is an easy recipe and will be familiar territory for you if you have, as most people have these days, cooked and/or eaten some kind of wrap. If not, it is still an easy recipe to follow and worth getting your hands on the two ingredients you may not have to hand – pomegranate molasses and moosir (Persian shallots).
Pomegranate molasses is a thick syrup with a dark grape colour made from reducing pomegranate juice. The juice is obtained from a tart variety of pomegranate. You can pick up pomegranate molasses (rob-e-anar) from most Middle-Eastern food shops, online or even at some local supermarkets. It is deliciously tart but the addition of honey and freshly squeezed orange juice balances the favours perfectly for this marinade and complements the chicken. As with all marinades, the longer you leave it the better. So if you have time to marinate your chicken overnight (thighs with skin on and bone in preferably) this will allow the chicken to absorb all the delicious flavours.
Moosir is a Persian shallot and has a flavour profile similar to garlic but slightly sweeter and softer in its spiciness. They grow wild in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains, and have to be found and dug out of the earth – a similar process to truffles. Commonly used in a yoghurt dip called Maast-o-Moosir, this ingredient adds an amazingly distinctive flavour to dishes. You can buy moosir from most Middle-Eastern food shops or online.
I have added the moosir to the mayonnaise for the chicken wrap. Moosir is bought in its dried form and will need to be re-hydrated if you are going to use it. Soak the moosir in water for 3 to 24 hours in the fridge. Drain, rinse in cold water and pat dry. Check the moosir and cut out any stems that remain hard after soaking. Chop the moosir finely and mix with your mayonnaise. I tend to soak my moosir for 3 hrs before mincing and adding to my mayonnaise and leave it in the fridge, covered, overnight before I use it. If you cannot get your hands on moosir, then you can use garlic. I would recommend steeping the garlic cloves in boiled water before mincing and adding to the mayonnaise to temper the harshness of the raw garlic.
As a final addition to complement the flavours, I use my own homemade Torshi Soorati (an easy and quick pickle made from red onion, red cabbage, white wine vinegar and coriander seeds – ready in 5 days). You can of course omit the pickle or use another pickle of your choice. Serve these wraps with wedges – sweet potatoes are a great accompaniment.
Shab-e Yaldā Chicken Wraps
For the chicken
- 8 free-range chicken thighs (skin-on, bone-in)
- 1 large red onion (finely sliced)
- 4 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tbsp sriracha chilli sauce
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- Juice of half an orange
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
For the Moosir Mayo
- 5 tbsp mayonnaise
- 5 to 7 discs of dried moosir (rehydrate, mince and add to mayo as per note above). Alternatively 2 garlic cloves (pour boiling water over them and leave for 5 minutes before mincing and adding to mayo)
- 8 large tortilla wraps
- Crunchy lettuce (Romaine or iceberg - shredded)
- Torshi Soorati or other pickle of your choice
- Fresh coriander, mint and parsley (chopped) and pomegranate seeds (for garnish and sprinkling in the wraps)
- Put the chicken, onion, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, pomegranate molasses, tomato purée, sriracha, maple syrup, orange juice, seasoning and olive oil in a mixing bowl and mix to coat evenly. Cover, place in the fridge and let it marinate for a minimum of 4 hours (preferably overnight). About 1 hour before cooking, remove the chicken from the fridge and set aside to rise to room temperature.
- Place the mayonnaise in a bowl and add your minced moosir or garlic (see notes above) and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
- Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
- Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a shallow roasting tin, then roast for 40-45 minutes, until the chicken and onions have caramelised and are sticky. Remove the chicken from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
- About 5 minutes before removing your chicken from the oven, take your tortillas, wrap them in foil and place them in the oven to heat for about 15 mins. Then remove them from the oven and turn off the heat.
- Scatter the chicken with the fresh mint and pomegranate seeds.
- Build a wrap by spreading the moosir mayo on it, adding shredded lettuce, layering with sliced chicken (removed from the bone) and caramelised onions, topping with Torshi Soorati or other pickle, the chopped fresh herbs and pomegranate seeds. Roll up the wrap and tuck in.