Balli Mahmudiye – Lemon Chicken in Honey Apricot And Almond Sauce

Ramadan is a great time of year to revive those nearly-forgotten classic dishes of Ottoman Cuisine. Istanbul turns into a huge festive ground full of venues serving the most sophisticated delicacies from the city’s over 1000 year-old heritage. One of my favorites is Balli Mahmudiye, a lemon marinated chicken dish cooked and served in a scrumptious honey, apricot and almond sauce. I made this classic recipe today, for the first dinner of Ramadan. Hubs seemed really happy to dine on some very fine Ottoman food on the very first day of fasting. I suppose, the fact that I used hand-made copper cookware has been a contributing factor as well…


50 grs + 50 grs butter

1 medium size onion, chopped finely

A handful of sweet fresh almonds

1/2 kg chicken, diced

2 tablespoon of lemon juice

7-8 dried apricots, julienne

1 tablespoon of honey

1/2 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1 teaspoon of salt

2 cups of boiling water + 1 cup of cold water

1 tablespoon of corn starch

Melt 50grs of butter in a skillet. Sauté the onion and almonds until brown. Bring on high heat and add in the chicken pieces. Cook for 7-8 minutes, keep stirring.  Add in the apricots, cinnamon, honey, black pepper and salt. Stir for a few minutes until it releases the flavors. Pour in the hot water and lemon juice. In a separate cup, mix the starch and cold water thoroughly. Add this mixture into the chicken, stir for a few seconds. Cover and cook for 15 minutes on medium heat. Remove from the heat, mix in the other 50 grs of butter and serve with rice or bread. It pairs nicely with plain risoni.


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