Baked Rice with Chicken and Eggplant

Ahh, baked rice with chicken and eggplant. Have you ever thought to bake rice?

plate of baked rice with chicken and eggplant

This quickly became a favourite dish at home, and my mother will ask to double the amount of rice I make, because it comes out so soft and flavourful, and the chicken has the crispiest, juiciest skin.

The recipe that I’m giving you here has measurements because I have to, but sometimes I just go all out and double down on all the spices.

bowl of raw chicken surrounded by onion, lemon, garlic, and ginger.

Why, you ask? Well, here’s the secret to this recipe:

It’s all in the soup

Seriously, the key to making the best baked rice, along with the chicken and eggplant, is having the tastiest soup. This recipe takes its theory from a very popular Zanzibari pilau that our families make at any family lunch. Pilau cooks the rice in the soup and spices, and gets its colour from browning onions beforehand.

Now, cooking your rice in soup and spices sounds like the best idea for the most flavourful rice, so I drew inspiration from cooking the rice with pilau-inspired spices, and essentially making a broth from the chicken, and then baking it all to perfection.

So when you’re making this, taste the broth – and if you feel like you just want more punch out of it – do it! Don’t be shy. This recipe practically demands it!

close up of chicken and eggplant slices on a bed of rice

Keep it Crispy

This recipe isn’t just about the rice, it’s about making sure you enhance your baked chicken and eggplant too. This recipe calls for a simple thyme olive oil mix to brush over them that will bring them to a satisfying crunch one baked through. This is also why I recommend dark meat with the skin on – the bone-in chicken pieces just get more tender as they’re twice cooked, and the skin will result in a delicious crispiness.

close up of a chicken thigh with eggplant slices and rice

What are we sitting around talking about it for? Let’s jump right into the recipe!

Print Recipe
Baked Rice with Chicken and Eggplant
Course Main Dish
Keyword comfort food
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Keyword comfort food
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. 1. We are going to start by marinating the chicken. Grate your garlic and ginger into a bowl with your chicken pieces, and squeeze in the lemon juice and soy sauce. Finely mince your onion and add that in too. Massage in the marjoram, mint, and rosemary, S&P and make sure that it is evenly rubbed in over the pieces. Let sit to marinate while you cook the rice.
  2. 2. Par-cook the rice with a teaspoon of salt, the cloves, and cumin for 10 minutes. The rice should still be chewy in the center and still a bit brittle. If it gets too soft, remove immediately, or you might overcook it later. Drain any remaining water and set aside.
  3. 3. Pressure-cook the chicken for 15-20 minutes. If you don't have a pressure cooker, boiling will do but pressure cooking will make the chicken more tender. Ensure that you've got at least 2 cups of water in there. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the soup. Taste the soup to ensure that it has enough flavour and salt, adjust if necessary, and save for later.
  4. 4. Slice up your eggplant into 1/2 cm slices.
  5. 5. Spread out the rice evenly on baking tray. A deep, metal tray is best over a glass/ceramic baking dish. Arrange the chicken pieces and eggplant slices on top of them the rice. Pour the soup from the chicken over the top of the rice. The soup should just come level of the rice, not over. If you need to compensate with more water, add a little bit.
  6. 6. Stir some olive oil with thyme, S&P and brush over the eggplant. Brush some over the chicken pieces too.
  7. 7. Pop the tray in the oven at 150C for 45-60 minutes, until the rice is cooked through and the chicken has browned. Then you will have the most perfect baked rice with chicken and eggplant!

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