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Brazilian Saffron Rice w/ Chicken and Vegetables (Galinhada Mineira)

Recently the weather has started to change noticeably.  The temperature has cooled down, but there is also something different in the air– almost as if announcing that fall is about to arrive.  At this time of the year, I start to yearn for hearty and comforting dishes, and today I have a specific craving for Galinhada, Brazilian Saffron rice with Chicken and Vegetables.  Huh??? 🙂

Galinhada (pronounced gah-leen-YA-dah) is a rice made with chicken, saffron, and vegetables, which is a typical Brazilian dish from both the states of Minas Gerais and Goiás.  However, in Goiás guariroba (a sour heart of palm) and pequi (a fruit with a strong taste, native to the Brazilian savanna or cerrado) are added to the dish,  distinguishing it from that of Minas Gerais.

Since both the guariroba and the pequi are not so readily obtainable in the United States, I decided to make the version from Minas Gerais.  I am telling you: the savory aroma as it simmers on the stove is just unforgettable…

Excuse me, but it’s time to eat this simple but yet super-delicious galinhada.  I cannot wait any longer. 🙂

See ya later!


Brazilian Saffron Rice with Chicken and Vegetables

(Galinhada Mineira)

Serves 4 – 6

Segment: Brazilian Cuisine


2 lbs (about 1kg) boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 teaspoon salt

Black ground pepper to taste

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 small white onion, small diced

1 large green bell pepper, small diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups parboiled rice

1/2 cup white wine**

3-1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup water, hot

1 tablespoon saffron threads

1 teaspoon tomato paste**

1 bay leaf

Fresh juice of 1/2 lemon**

3 large diced tomatoes, skin and seeds removed

1 to 1-1/4 cups fresh or frozen peas, cooked

1/4 cup green onions, chopped

** These ingredients are not part of the traditional recipe.


Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin.  Let rest for about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, dice and chop the vegetables. Reserve.

In a large pan over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and bell pepper for about 2 minutes.  Add the chicken and let brown for about 2 minutes each side.  Add the garlic and sauté for 30 to 60 seconds.  Add the rice and brown quickly.  Add the wine and let evaporate.

Then, add the broth.  Dissolve the saffron in the warm water and add to the pan with the tomato paste and bay leaf.  Stir, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover the pan.  Let cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and all the liquid has completely evaporated.  Adjust the salt, if necessary. Remove from the stove, add the lemon juice, the tomato, cooked peas, and the green onions.  Mix gently.  Serve galinhada with a good chardonnay wine. Enjoy!

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14 Responses to Brazilian Saffron Rice w/ Chicken and Vegetables (Galinhada Mineira)

  1. Tracie September 17, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    How do you “parboil” rice? Are you referring to cooked rice or partially cooked rice? Thanks

    • Denise Browning September 18, 2012 at 12:07 am #

      Hi, Tracie! The parboiled rice (It means “partially cooked”) is available in supermarkets under the name PARBOILED RICE. It is the best to use in this recipe in order to avoiding overcook the chicken. Thank you for the question. If you have any other question, please let me know. xx

      • Tracie September 21, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

        Thanks for the response. I tried it two nights ago but had to resort to using regular rice. I have a newborn and toddler at home so I had to use what I had in my pantry. I just pulled the chicken out and added it later after the rice has cooked a bit. I’ll have to try it again with the parboiled rice. Thanks.

        • Denise Browning September 21, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

          I do understand it! I was in the same situation a few years ago. 🙂 How did you your Saffron Rice with Chicken turned out? xx

  2. Ryan September 17, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Thank you will try and cook this Dish [Saffron Rice] for my Wife Family wish me luck lol

    • Denise Browning September 17, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

      Hi, Ryan! This is an easy-to-cook dish. Don’t worry about it. 🙂 If your wife’s family is not a big fan of peas (like my husband), I advice you to add only 1 cup of cooked peas to this dish instead of 12 oz. You can also adjust the amount of salt. Since my husband has high blood pressure, I cook with less salt than the usual amount. Serve it with a fresh salad and a good chardonnay. Good luck and thanks for stopping by. If you have any questions, please contact me. I’d be glad to help you.

  3. Denise April 2, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    I have some leftover saffron rice in the frig that needs used. I now know what’s for dinner! Thanks for sharing.

    • Denise Browning April 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

      Hi, Denise!
      I hope you enjoy my Brazilian saffron rice w/ chicken recipe…Thanks for stopping by and have a great dinner!!!

  4. Calvin February 19, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    Just tried pequi fruit for the first time at Silva’s; I am still looking for a way to describe it. Lily liked but my youngest different. What is this most closely related to?

    • Denise Browning February 19, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

      Welcome to FBTY, Calvin! Unfortunately, I do not know any other fruit similar/related to pequi. In the US, its pulp is commercialized as a preserve under the brand Cerrado Goiano . It is very popular in Midwest Brazil (region). There are famous dishes made with it such as chicken with pequi and also rice with pequi. Although my galinhada recipe does not take pequi because it is a typical dish from Minas gerais, you can adapt the recipe and make a galinhada goiana with pequi. Skip the saffron and peas, and use pequi pulp. Wishing you a great day!

  5. Deborah April 5, 2014 at 6:08 am #

    Olá, Denise, adoro galinhada e preparo em casa meu “arroz de braga”, muito parecido tb. Te convido a preparar esse meu!
    Parabéns pelo seu blog. Gostaria de saber qual equipamento você usa para fotografar suas delícias! A qualidade esta perfeita.

    • Denise Browning April 5, 2014 at 8:44 am #

      Olá, Deborah! Bem-vinda a FBTY!
      Eu uso uma camera profissional a Nikon D7000 com lentes Macro. Fico feliz em saber que você gosta da qualidade das minhas fotos. Um bom fim de semana pra você e sua família!

  6. Paige August 3, 2016 at 8:45 pm #

    Can I use tumeric instead of saffron? (Gasp!)

    • Denise Browning August 3, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

      Hi, Page!!! Yes, you can use turmeric instead. Just go easy with it. Of course, the color will be similar but the taste won’t be quite the same. Enjoy!

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