Wild flower honey and dates marinated free range chicken rice from scratch!

chicken rice dates

I’ve wanted to cook Hainanese style chicken rice with fresh and dried dates still on the branch for a long time. Unfortunately, I keep getting veto-ed by my better half who thought it’ll be an unsavory dish. Pun not intended. smirk

chicken marinade

We had gotten two free range chicken legs for RM 18.50 from our trip to the wet market last week and one of them is still in the fridge. The other has been cooked into a wonderful Hainanese style chicken rice and I wanted to do the very same dish – except mine would be a sweet version. I finally convinced my honey with the same.

Witticisms aside, you will need:

date rice recipe

  • One whole chicken leg
  • Rice
  • Wild flower honey
  • Dates on branches
  • Fresh dates

fresh date rice

I did this with two types of dates – the sweeter dried dates and the fresh ones still on their branch I got from the Ramadan bazaar a while ago. The latter is used to flavor the rice. I measured one cup of rice and added 1 ½ cups of water to it.

drumstick honey rice

This method of cooking and marinating is what I learned from my dear. The dried dates are opened up and the tiny seed taken out before being smashed for the flavor to come out. I used a whole branch of Tunisian dates, which is a sweet variety with relatively good moisture content.

wild flower honey

I then took a good gunk (which is about 3 heaped tablespoons if you want exact measurements) of New Zealand wild flower honey – chosen for it’s refreshing and light nature – and mixed it with the mashed up dates and massaged the mixture into the chicken leg for a good 3 minutes.

marinating chicken

I made sure to molest caress every fold and curve of the chicken leg like a gentle lover to massage the dried dates + honey marinade into the smooth skin until it’s moist and tender.

honey dates marinate

The marinated chicken leg is then sealed into an air-tight baggie and left in the fridge for 24 hours.

cooking fresh dates

The fresh dates goes into the rice before it’s cooked. I made sure to poke multiple holes into each date before it went into the pan. I also used a fork to pick apart the fresh dates so that the maximum surface area will be exposed with tiny bits going with the rice before setting it to boil.

cooking dates rice

The dried dates + wild flower honey chicken leg is placed on top of the rice just as the water starts to get hot. Don’t wait for it to boil!

honey date rice

The pressure pan is closed for 5 minutes on low heat to cook the chicken leg and rice. I was amazed by the fragrant sweet smell when I opened it!

our date rice

The fresh date rice is mildly sweet with bits and pieces of dates embedded into the fluffy grain. It’s fragrant and goes very well with the dried date + honey marinated chicken leg. It’s sweet, but not overpoweringly so, it’s a very subtle nuance.

dried dates chicken

I liked it but I think marinating the chicken for 48 hours would do better in absorbing the sweet dried dates and wild flower honey right into the bone! :)

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32 thoughts on “Wild flower honey and dates marinated free range chicken rice from scratch!

  1. whoa! the next time u start marinating the chicken, let us know before the 48 hours are up, and we’ll gatecrash your party when the meat’s ready to serve! looks & sounds delish!
    hmmm, thinking about possible substitutes for the dates, and am wondering if figs (both fresh & dried) would also work for this recipe. it’d be more expensive, unfortunately, but it could also be really memorable. ok, i should shut up now, since i’m not the one doing the cooking… :D

    • Haha! Thanks mate! :)

      Yeah, I considered using figs too, it’s the Biblical fruit after all.

      I like it but I thought since it’s Raya, I’ll go with dates. I love figs but fresh ones are hard to come about here. I’ve seen it once and yeah, it’s expensive, almost as expensive as this fruit I wanted to cook with – a RM 15 kiwi sized exotic one we bought to try. :D

  2. Don’t know why I keep tasted this sweet corn flavor in the rice..Nevertheless, the rice and chicken was perfectly done, dear! You are getting pro with the pressure pan now..hehe

    • Thanks dear! :)

      I still think your original Hainanese chicken rice is better though!

      I like it so much I copied it right down to how to plate it. Haha!

      Yeah, the pressure pan is fun to work with. The sweet corn tastes comes from the fresh dates! <3

    • It’s quite hard to do well! :)

      I’ve been meaning to cure my own pork but I’ll start with pig noodles this week first!

  3. wow…looks not bad! Would it be better if you added some dressing or chili sauce? ahh…Nandos hot peri peri sauce! ;-)
    I’ve not tried fresh dates before….

    • I think a sweet light dressing like lime with mayo would be awesome! :)

      Chilli sauce would be a bit weird though coz this is a sweet dish.

      Fresh dates are nice – always found the Indian ones only, this are the better Middle Eastern ones. You can find it at specialty date shops or Ramadan bazaars.

  4. Dates ?! That’s really an interesting choice, i wonder how it tastes… but i’m not too fond of having sweet chicken rice though :P

    • Yeah, the pressure pan sure is convenient! :)

      I used quite a lot of plates though – especially in plating. I wanted it to be the same as what my better half did.

      Cheers Eve! :D

    • Thanks Claire! :)

      It’s quite nice, surprisingly. I wanted to do it with this fruit we found but impractical coz each kiwi sized fruit costs RM 15 (!!!).

    • Thanks! :)

      I guess you can try with figs too, both are from the same area and tastes rather similar.

      Hmm…fresh dates are available but usually from India (don’t like those, prefer Middle Eastern ones). You’re right, the Middle Eastern ones like the ones I got are hard to get fresh, it’s imported mostly once a year.

    • Thanks Vickie! :)

      I didn’t have any Greek cooking in mind though – I love dates and I’m partial to olives too but my better half doesn’t like the latter (actually she doesn’t like both but she hates the latter) so I seldom cook with olives.

  5. You are so clever to use wild flower honey and dates!! I would never think of that brilliant idea to get natural tastes. I am learning something new again from you.

    BTW did you receive the email I resent??

    • I just had them in the fridge and have been meaning to use them for this! :)

      It’s a lot of experimentation and just plain fun in the kitchen.

      I love cooking.

      Hmm…I’ll check again bro but I haven’t seen it.

  6. I cooked chicken rice quite often as my kids love it very much.. But never try with the dates… Maybe should try it one day.. You both are really perfect creative chef! Love your menus!~

    • Thanks for that! :)

      She’s a better chef really, I’m just more experimental and likes to try new things.

      I think dates and honey will make a nice twist to a normally savory dish! :D

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