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How to make it: Georgina Hayden's chicken, cinnamon and sweet tomato orzo

This dish feels like a great representation of Cypriot food

By Georgina Hayden
Published 19 May 2019, 21:17 BST
Chicken, cinnamon and sweet tomato orzo
Chicken, cinnamon and sweet tomato orzo
Photograph by Kristin Pepers

The sweet tomatoes, oozy orzo and addition of cinnamon all make this such a quintessential Greek recipe (we use a lot of cinnamon in both sweet and savoury dishes). This is the sort of family one-pot recipe all households should have up their sleeve. I’d put a bet on it being a winner with all ages — even my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter loves it. 

Serves: 4-6   
Takes: 90 mins 


3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp tomato purée
5 large ripe tomatoes
400g orzo
1 litre hot chicken stock
6 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
½ tsp ground allspice
250g cherry tomatoes on the vine
6 oregano sprigs
75g halloumi (or salted ricotta or anari), grated


1 Preheat the oven to 200C, fan 180C, gas 6. Pour the 3 tbsp olive oil into a wide casserole pan set over a low-medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 10 mins, until starting to soften. Add the cinnamon stick and tomato purée; stir for 1 min. Coarsely grate in the 5 large tomatoes, mix well, then stir in the orzo and chicken stock.
2 In a large bowl, toss the chicken thighs with the allspice and a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Lay the chicken on top of the orzo, skin-side up, and dot around the vines of tomatoes and oregano sprigs. Drizzle everything with olive oil and place in the oven for 30 mins.
3 Towards the end of the cooking time, boil a kettle of water. Then, when the 30 mins is up, remove the pan from the oven. Carefully pour 150ml boiling water all around the orzo, taking care not to pour it directly onto the chicken skin, then return to the oven. Cook for a further 25 mins, or until the chicken skin is crisp and golden, and the meat itself is tender.
4 Remove from the oven, leave to rest for 5 mins, then sprinkle with the grated cheese to serve.

Read our interview with Georgina Hayden

Published in issue 5 of National Geographic Traveller Food

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