Middle Eastern Chicken and Rice
Recipes from Ima Cuisine by Yael Shochat with David Cohen published by Random House NZ, RRP: $55.00.
Photography by Callum Thomas.
MIDDLE EASTERN CHICKEN AND RICE
This is one of my family's favourite dishes. It turns a plain roasted chicken (you can even use a supermarket rotisserie chicken) into something really fantastic. I like to roast the chicken earlier in the day or the day before, so that all I have to do to get dinner on the table is prepare the rice. That also gives me time to simmer the chicken bones into a stock to give the rice extra flavour, but you can also cook it with water. I really think this meal has to be served with the Arab Israeli salad (page 76), because the acidity and freshness of the salad pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the rice. For the nuts,
I like to use almonds, pistachios and pine nuts, but you can also include walnuts and hazelnuts.
1 1/2 cups mixed nuts, types kept separate
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups basmati rice
1 1/2 tbsp baharat spice mix (page 275), divided
3/4 cup currants
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
1 roasted chicken
flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp roughly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 quantity Arab Israeli salad (page 76), to serve
Note: the Arab Israeli salad is best if freshly made.
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Spread each type of nut in a single layer on a separate rimmed baking tray and toast in the oven for 6-10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden to medium brown inside (break one of each open to check it). Watch them carefully so that they don't get too dark - different nuts will take different times to toast and pine nuts will toast the fastest. Roughly chop the nuts and set aside.
Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a large saucepan for which you have a lid, then cook the onion, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Add the garlic and cook a further 1-2 minutes, stirring a few times, until softened. Stir in the rice and 1 tablespoon of baharat spice mix and fry everything together for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Pour the currants and stock or water into the pan and stir well, making sure you scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom.
Bring the liquid to the boil, stirring once or twice, then immediately put the lid on, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes are up, turn the heat off and leave the pan to stand on the stovetop with the lid still on for a further 15 minutes. Don't be tempted to lift the lid to take a look - you need to keep the steam inside the pan.
Remove the chicken meat from the bones and tear into bite-sized pieces. Stir the chicken and nuts into the rice (you might need to tip everything into a big bowl to do this). Season with salt and pepper, and further baharat, to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with Arab Israeli salad.