Legendary Dishes | Şuşa Çolpalı (Shusha chicken rice with cranberries and pomegranate seeds)

Chicken rice with bread base


This chicken and cranberry rice pilaf is adapted from Qarabağ Mətbəxi, the fabulous quixotic cookbook by Tahir Əmiraslanov and Aynurə Əmiraslanova. This is the cuisine of Qarabağ, a modern and historical region of Azerbaijan. Qarabağ or Karabakh can mean black garden and big land, derived from the words ‘gara’ and ‘bagh’ in Azerbaijani. Traditionally the chicken is from the mature male bird.

Qazmag (base)

  • 160 g white wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 45 g yoghurt
  • 30 ml oil
  • 5 g salt

Whip the egg into the yoghurt, add the flour and salt, knead into a smooth dough, coat with oil.


  • 3 litres water for soaking rice
  • 2 litres water for cooking chicken
  • 1.5 kg chicken
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 500 g basmati rice
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds
  • 200 g cranberries
  • 200 g onions, sliced
  • 60 ml oil
  • 30 g butter
  • 10 g + 5 g salt
  • 1 g + 1 g saffron

Soak the rice in three litres of water with the salt for three hours.

Meanwhile place the chicken in a pot just tight enough to fit, fill with water to cover the chicken, poach until the chicken starts to fall off the bone, about 90 minutes. Drain, retaining the cooking liquid for stock.

Break the chicken into pieces, coat with four tablespoons of oil, sprinkle with a large pinch of saffron and a teaspoon of salt.

Sauté the onions in butter over a low heat for 15 minutes, add the cranberries and pomegranate seeds, cook for 5 minutes until the cranberries start to soften.

Bring the stock to the boil over a high heat. Stir in a large pinch of saffron. Transfer the soaked rice to the pot, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Arrange the qazmag in the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Place the onion mixture on top, place the chicken on top of the onion mixture, then the rice. Bake in a 180ºC oven for an hour.