A Rustic Feast

This exquisite recipe for Balochi chicken sajji with rice comes from the nomadic tribes of Balochistan and has the simple charm and honesty of their uncomplicated living style.

Lamb Vs Chicken Sajji

Balochi Chicken Sajji is slow roasted meat – traditionally, a whole lamb stuffed with rice, as lamb sajji is very popular with Balochis who usually farm goats and sheep.  Some people would even argue that the real Sajji is only cooked with lamb. In urban areas, however, sajji is preferably cooked with chicken.

Serving Suggestions:

Balochi Chicken sajji is served with both delicious onion and dates fried rice and a special roti, “kaak”, which, in Balochistan, is baked over hard hot stone. Although it’s a great recipe for outdoors, I have tried to recreate it within the convenience of my own kitchen. The rice, though simple and easy to cook, have a rich flavour from caramelized onions, dates and dried fruit/nuts garnishing. You can use the left overs to make sandwiches or delicious pita pockets as well. 

Balochi Kaak Bread:

The exotic bread has a wonderful salty biscuit-like texture. I made five breads; three of them were eaten with lunch, the other two have disappeared from the fridge between lunch and dinner 😉 You can find the recipe for this special Balochi Kaak Bread on the blog.  Not in a mood to bake bread? Any flat bread, toasted to crispy perfection would taste amazing with Balochi Chicken Sajji.


*Now in this recipe, I’ve used saffron, which is rather expensive and may not be easily available in many places, so you can skip it.  Saffron basically adds to the aroma and colour of the rice. You can use 1/4 teaspoon turmeric instead.

*I use both with and without skin chicken, depending on who I’m cooking for. Traditionally Balochi Chicken Sajji is cooked with skin on chicken and my husband and I enjoy it but my girls don’t so if I’m cooking for the whole family, I skip the skin. If you choose to bake with skin, in that case, don’t make slits on the chicken.


For Balochi Chicken Sajji:

  • 1 whole with or without skin chicken (1 kg)
  • 3 table spoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 4 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 4 black cardamoms (badi alychee)
  • 2 teaspoons dried pomegranate seeds (anar dana) or lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (zeera)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (dhanya)

For Rice:

  • 2 cups long grain basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or cooking oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 + 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 black cardamoms
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 10 dates, pitted and chopped
  • A few strands saffron soaked in 2 tablespoons milk (optional)
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruits & nuts of your choice (optional)

This Is What You Do:

For Balochi Chicken Sajji:

Mix vinegar, ginger-garlic paste, salt and pepper in a bowl.

If using skinless chicken, make slits in the thickest parts of meat. If using chicken with skin, skip this step.

Place whole chicken in an oven proof dish, pour the vinegar marinade over chicken, rub it thoroughly all over it, even inside the cavity. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (better overnight).

Preheat oven to 175C/350F. Roast all the spices on a skillet for 1-2 minutes. Grind all the spices in a dry mill or grinder to a coarse grind. If you can’t find dried pomegranate seeds, add lemon juice to the spice mix.

Rub half of the ground spices all over chicken, cover and bake for 1 hour.

Uncover and bake for another 10-12 minutes or till the skin crisps up or the meat gets a golden colour.

Keep the chicken warm.

Meanwhile prepare the rice.

For Rice:

Boil rice with green cardamoms, black cardamoms, cinnamon stick and 2 teaspoons salt. When they are near done, strain water.

Heat oil in a deep pan, fry onions till golden brown.

Add garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, add 1/4 cup water and juices from the chicken sajji.

Let the masala simmer till it turns a lovely golden brown shade, add dates and fry, add rice and fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add milk and saffron, stir fry another minute.  Turn the heat off.

After an hour take out the chicken, spread cooked rice all around it and stuff some in the cavity.

Sprinkle the remaining ground spices over chicken sajji, garnish with your favourite nuts if desired and serve hot.

Serves 4

25 Replies to “Balochi Chicken Sajji with Rice”

  1. Such a lovely recipe, Maria. I love everything about it, the spices going into cooking the chicken, as well as the rice for it. I adore roasts like this!

    1. Shahid Khurshid, ji bilkul! Use the same spices. I think the result should be even better with cooking on fire.
      Hope you will enjoy!

  2. Is the chicken with the skin? I don’t see the use of any oil / ghee. Does it use its own fat?

    1. Hi Sandeep,

      No, the chicken is skinless and no oil used either. It cooks covered, in its own juices and the marinade that’s why stays, moist and soft. Perfect for a low cholesterol diet 🙂 Thank you for stopping by the blog, hope you’ll enjoy 🙂

    2. in actual recipe as served in Pakistan the chicken is with skin. Which provides the fat as well. it becomes so delicious with skinned chicken because when sajji is bar b qued, the skin becomes crispy n yum ..

      1. Dear Sabeen, keeping skin on is totally a matter of personal taste. In my family nobody enjoys eating the skin plus it’s loaded with fat. Cooking it without skin is definitely a healthier option and you will find that this recipe has not compromised on taste at all 😉

    1. Hina, if you want to make a healthier version you can definitely use brown rice but of course the taste would be different.

    2. Hina I have never tried making it with brown rice because my family loves long grained basmati but I know it will be a healthier version. If you try, do tell me how it turned out 🙂

  3. I tried this recipe, and turned out to be amazing!
    It was easy to make, not alot of cutting chopping.
    Above all my husband loved it very much.
    U r right. It is a hidden recipe in our own country.
    A friend of husband mentioned ‘sajji’.i thought it was some kind of fruit or plant, but when I googled, I was surprised what I found.

  4. Are the ingredients hard to find? I don’t think I have ever seen Pomegranate seeds, do you actually buy one and get the seeds out of it?

    1. No Doris, the ingredients are very easily available, specially if you have an Indian/Pakistani/ middle eastern grocery store near you.Drying pomegranate seeds would take days, dribble some lemon juice instead over the chicken just before serving.

  5. Thanks Ash, this is one of the hidden recipes even in our own country, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Yes the Lebanese Kaak is totally different from Balochi Kaak 🙂

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