Chicken in Spicy Orange Sauce

Portakalı piliç

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

  • About

This dish comes from the area around Mersin in the south of Turkey where sweet, thin-skinned juicy oranges grow. The combination of oranges and spices gives it a tangy taste and, depending on the strength of the chilli peppers, it can be quite hot. It is delicious cooled with mint-flavoured yogurt and works well with the legs, thighs or breasts of chicken and turkey.


  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons clarified butter, or olive oil with a little butter
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed with salt
  • 2 small thin-skinned oranges, each cut into 8 segments with the peel on
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons currants, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon dark honey
  • 1 strong-smelling cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2-3 chilli peppers
  • a few fresh mint leaves
  • juice of 1 orange
  • ¼ pint/150 ml water
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Accompany

  • 3-4 tablespoons yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, roughly chopped


  • Heat the butter or oil in a shallow pan or casserole dish, and lightly brown the thighs. Lift them out and put aside. Add the onions, garlic, orange segments, nigella and coriander seeds to the pan, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the currants, honey, ground cinnamon, cinnamon stick, mint leaves and chilli peppers and pour in the orange juice and water. Bring the liquid to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Return the thighs to the pan, cover with a lid, and cook gently for 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick and chilli peppers and check the seasoning. Mix the yogurt with the chopped mint. Serve it with the chicken, or swirl it into the dish just before serving.