Everyday Turmeric Chicken - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Everyday Turmeric Chicken

Photography by Devon Francis

I grew up with very limited exposure to flavor profiles outside of Italian food and “American” food, e.g. burgers and hot dogs.  I was very interested in learning more, but we didn’t eat out much and I didn’t have too many resources for recipes.  We had a lot of variety in pasta shapes and diversity in pasta sauces though!  I don’t know when I was exposed to Persian food, but I think it was well after I had moved to LA in my early 20’s.  It quickly became one of my favorite cuisines.  I just love the herbs, spices, the color and beauty of the dishes.  And I am crazy for rice!  Once, a Persian friend invited us over for dinner and she made at least two rice dishes, but with enough for 4 times as many people and so, so delicious.  I’ve always wanted someone to teach me how to make Persian food, and finally my prayers were answered.

My lovely friend, Naz Deravian, wrote a beautiful book of Persian recipes and stories called “Bottom of the Pot.”   It tells the story of her journey from Iran to Italy and Canada, and brings to life the tastes and warmth of Persian cuisine.  I was absolutely captivated by Naz’s stories as much as her inviting recipes.  I am looking forward to making many of these dishes.  I don’t have any other Persian cookbooks and I can tell from her writing style and unfussy approach to cooking that Bottom of the Pot is my kind of book.  I honestly couldn’t decide what to make first and I actually surprised myself for not picking a rice dish.  But I had just posted a Middle Eastern rice and lentil recipe two weeks ago, so in the interest of recipe diversity on the website, I was intrigued by this Everyday Turmeric Chicken recipe.

I don’t even like chicken that much, but there I was, eating my second piece and licking my fingers.  Wow!  This was simple, tasty (a little tart and pungent), and relatively quick.  I served it with rice and some sautéed vegetables.  Perfect weeknight dinner or perfect dinner for guests (although I don’t love the idea of guests + turmeric, just saying.)  Naz recommends 10 drumsticks, but I prefer thighs so I opted for half thighs and half drumsticks, asking the butcher to remove the skin for me.  I also used a 14-inch skillet, although Naz recommends a 12 -inch skillet.  I’m going to follow her advice next time so I have a little more sauce at the end.  I thought I needed the larger pan because the thighs took up more room than drumsticks.

This was also great the next day shredded and turned into a turmeric chicken fried rice.  If you don’t eat chicken, I think you could make this delicious with cauliflower steaks.  And there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan recipes in the book.  The above images are mine and the one below is from her book.  I’m no food stylist, so I wanted to make sure the recipe had fair representation!

Photo by Eric Wolfinger

If you love Persian food, I am sure you will love this book.  It is so much more than a cookbook, it’s also a trip to Iran and an education in Persian cuisine.  Well done, Naz!

I love seeing your creations, so please tag me on Instagram @pamelasalzman #pamelasalzman so I can check them out!

My new online class for October is coming out this weekend!  The new recipes are great, but my classes are so much more than that.  I discuss technique, best practices, nutrition, favorite products, adapting for different diets and so much more.  Here’s a link for more information.


You can shop the tools I used in this recipe by clicking on the images below!

5.0 from 11 reviews
Everyday Turmeric Chicken
Serves: 4-6
  • 5 chicken drumsticks, skin removed
  • 5 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed (or do all drumsticks)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 ½ teaspoons sea salt, plus more for seasoning onions
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined, extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Optional: fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
  1. Make a couple of slits in the flesh of each drumstick. Place drumsticks and thighs in a large bowl and season with turmeric, salt and pepper. Mix together until well coated. Set aside.
  2. Warm the oil in a large 12-inch pan over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until tender and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add white wine, if using.
  3. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes on each side. Add the lemon juice and ¼ cup of hot water.
  4. Turn the chicken in the sauce to coat all sides and scrape all the crispy bits with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer, turning occasionally until the chicken is cooked through, about 35 minutes.
  5. Taste for seasoning and garnish with parsley







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  1. Wonderful recipe – thank you. I made only one minor change – subbing warmed chicken broth for the hot water. Made your excellent broccoli shawarma recipe as a side to go with this – YUM!

    • Wonderful choice, Sue! Those two dishes go well together. Glad you gave this recipe a try.

  2. Can I bake this in the oven

    • I haven’t tried making this recipe in the oven, but I’m sure you can. I would brown the chicken on the stove and finish it in the oven after step 3. Cover and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for an additional 30-40 minutes (depending on thickness) or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees when inserted with a thermometer. Let me know if you give it a try.

  3. Hi there. Is there a way to do this if I wanted to leave the skin on? I love this recipe but I have family coming and they are all very partial to chicken thighs with skin I was hoping to wow them with this but dont want to ruin it…

    • I think you could do it with the skin and just give it a sear first to brown and crisp up the skin.

  4. Loved this! Truly easy and flavorful! Excited to try it with fish and cauliflower. What about garbanzo beans? Shrimp?
    I made this the same night as making a Persian chicken recipe from Epicurious and this recipe was by far the best and far more simple. My Persian husband loved it!

    • Yay! I don’t see why you couldn’t do this with beans or shrimp or both together!

  5. Made this a little different but it turned out fantastic.Butterflied a breast and pressed it then put the salt pepper and tumeric on the chicken placed in the pan with olive oil added chopped slivered onions . I ran out of garlic cloves so I just left that out and slowly cooked the chicken until it was nice and brown and the onions were carmelized . After cooking I covered the meat and let it rest .. It was delicious.

    • Sounds great! It’s always helpful to hear different methods, so I appreciate your taking the time to share your experience. Thanks!

  6. Skipped ahead and made “Wednesday” on Monday because I had chicken thighs that I needed to use. So so yummy, as always! Fam was super happy for “something new” and tasty. Thank you, Pamela, yet again…and to your friend, Naz, too!

    • Love it! Such as great everyday chicken dish 🙂

  7. This is so delicious… another hit! We all loved the sauce. Could I add more liquid (maybe a bone broth) without compromising the flavors?

    • I think that would be fine!

  8. Can you do this recipe in an Instant Pot and if so, any guidance on timing/settings?

    • You can absolutely do this in an instant pot, but since I haven’t tried it that way, I wouldn’t want to steer you wrong. You could sear the chicken first to get some nice color on the skin. As far as time, I would try 15 minutes on High pressure.

  9. Could you do this recipe with chicken breasts instead of thighs/drumsticks? If so, would you need to alter any of the cooking times/method?

    • Hi there! Naz here from Bottom of the Pot. Yes, you could absolutely make this dish using chicken breasts. Reduce the cooking time if using boneless chicken breast and maybe add a little more water to make more juice, since chicken breasts are more dry than drumsticks and thighs. This recipe is very flexible, I prepare fish this way as well, or as Pamela suggests cauliflower would be great as well. Hope you enjoy!

  10. I just made this, it’s delicious and easy. I should have served over rice or sauteed vegetables as suggested by Pamela.

    I used fresh tumeric becasue I had some, instead of ground. Is there a reason you didn’t use fresh tumeric?


    • It’s not my recipe. It’s from my friend Naz’s book, Bottom of the Pot. I’m going to assume most people have ground turmeric lying around, but not fresh which might be hard to find in many parts of the country. Just a guess!

      • Can I bake this in the oven

    • Hi there! Naz here from Bottom of the Pot. Yes, it’s excatly as Pamela said. I always have ground turmeric on hand as it’s a staple in our spice cabinet. Fresh turmeric, although lovely, is not as easily accessible everywhere and at all times. But if you have fresh turmeric available please feel free to use it instead!

  11. Sooo good and easy! Thank you for yet another winner!

    • Yay!!

    • Hi there, Naz here from Bottom of the Pot. So happy you enjoyed this! It’s one of our favorites!

  12. I made this last night and Oh was it so good. Thank you for sharing. The chicken browned really nice without sticking perhaps because the onions were in the pan and added moisture. I usually have an issue browning chicken. Maybe not having skin made this step easier too. Anyway, we (kids too) enjoyed this very much. I may try 2 tsp of salt next time rather than 2 1/2 or maybe not add salt to my onions.

    • So glad you enjoyed it! Something I can suggest in general is to make sure your protein is super dry before searing it. Also, try not to crowd the pan too much. 🙂

    • Hi there! Naz here from Bottom of the Pot. So happy to hear you enjoyed this. It’s our go-to meal on a busy weeknight. The salt amount is really to taste, so please feel free to adjust to your liking. The salt amounts in my book are for kosher salt which is less salty (by measure) than sea salt or table salt.

    • Thanks so much for sharing one of our favorites, Pamela! And for all you lovely words regarding my book. You are truly the best!

      • I am enjoying your book so much, Naz. And I am thrilled to share it here. 🙂

  13. Thank you for posting the recipe, it looks very easy, not much ingredients, I’ll let you know how it went!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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