This Romanian rice dish comes from Carpathia: Food from the heart of Romania by Irina Georgescu. Irina says... "Easy to make and filling, often made with basmati rice, this is probably the most cooked dish for week-night dinners in Romania. In some parts of the country it’s called Serbian pilaf, in a delicious amalgamation of Turkish and Mediterranean flavours."


  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 whole chicken, jointed (ask the butcher or use 8 chicken pieces)
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 300g pearl barley
  • ¼ celeriac, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 sticks celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • ground to make 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 25g butter
  • a small bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped (optional)


  • STEP 1

    Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. In a casserole, heat the oil and brown the chicken pieces on all sides until really caramelised. Transfer to a plate. In the same oil, cook the onions for 10 minutes over a medium heat until they begin to char. Add the pearl barley and coat the grains well with the oil, cooking for a few more minutes.

  • STEP 2

    Tip the vegetables into the pan with the chopped tomatoes, mushrooms, stock, salt and pepper, and stir gently. Add the pieces of chicken back in, then cover the pan with kitchen foil and put the lid on top.

  • STEP 3

    Cook in the oven for 40 minutes, then uncover the casserole and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the barley is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Roughly chop the butter and dot the pieces around over the top. Sprinkle with parsley to serve, if you like.


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