Mint, lime and blitzed cauliflower make for a more flavorful chicken dinner

America's Test Kitchen's "Five-Ingredient Dinners" brings zest flavorful to basic chicken thighs

Published September 5, 2021 4:30PM (EDT)

Golden brown barbecued chicken wings (Getty Images/Boblin)
Golden brown barbecued chicken wings (Getty Images/Boblin)

Whole cumin seeds lend toasty, woodsy flavor as well as crunchy texture to this updated take on standard chicken and rice. You start by searing the thighs skin side down and then sprinkling them with cumin seeds before putting them in the oven. This way, the seeds become pleasantly toasted without any bitter burned bite. Then, take advantage of that rendered chicken fat in the pan by cooking the cauliflower in it along with some more cumin seeds — the tiny pieces of cauliflower "couscous" soak up all the savory flavor. A finale of chopped fresh mint and lime zest brings a welcome brightness — Leah Colins, Test Cook


Recipe: Cumin-Spiced Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower Couscous
Serves 4; Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 8 (5- to 7-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 4 teaspoons cumin seeds, divided 
  • 1 cauliflower (2 pounds), cored and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated lime zest, plus lime wedges for serving 
  • Staple ingredients: Vegetable oil, table salt, pepper 


1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook until well browned, 7 to 10 minutes. 

2. Transfer chicken, skin side up, to rimmed baking sheet (do not wipe out skillet). Sprinkle chicken with 2 teaspoons cumin seeds and roast until it registers 175 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to large plate, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. 

3. Meanwhile, working in 2 batches, pulse cauliflower in food processor into ¼- to ⅛-inch pieces, about 6 pulses. Heat 2 tablespoons reserved fat in skillet (or add vegetable oil until it measures 2 tablespoons) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add cauliflower, remaining 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper and cook until just tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in ½ cup mint and lime zest. 

4. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons mint over top of chicken and cauliflower and serve with lime wedges. 

If you like this recipe as much we we do, check out America's Test Kitchen's "Five-Ingredient Dinners."

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