Rafed English

Parthian Chicken



4 pieces chicken (breast or leg)

ground black pepper

2 tablespoons (30 ml) garum (liquamen; substitute Vietnamese nuoc mam)

1/2 teaspoon  laser (substitute asafetida powder or 5 drops asafetida tincture)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh lovage or celery leaf

2 teaspoons caraway seeds


Place the chicken in a casserole dish and sprinkle it liberally with pepper.

Combine the fish sauce and asafoetida. Add the lovage and caraway seeds and pour over the chicken.

Cover and bake in a pre-heated oven at 375°F (190°C/gas mark 5) for 1 hour. Halfway through the cooking time, remove the lid to brown the chicken.

Serve with a little of the sauce poured over the meat.

This is a simple dish, and very unusual in a Roman context, for it contains no sweetener. It is interesting that it is named after Parthia, Rome’s rival, and notable that asafoetida is the dominant flavor. This may confirm that the recipe was Parthian in origin ”” or at least it may explain how it got its name ”” for asafoetida came to Rome from the Parthian Empire. Caraway, on the other hand, is of central European origin. It was certainly the Romans who added this to the dish. Green caraway, rather than caraway seed, was probably intended. However, caraway is difficult to obtain fresh unless you grow it in a greenhouse. Using the caraway seed works very well.

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