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Posts Tagged ‘Chicken’

When I lived in Washington, there was this local chain, Lebanese Taverna, that had this one amazing dish…consisting of either chicken, lamb, or eggplant, served with yogurt, chickpeas, pomegranates, and tons of garlic. It was to die for.

There is no Lebanese Taverna in Berkeley, and I had a craving. Through the magic of the internets, I was able to hunt down a recipe for this dish. The recipe I used was posted by a poster on the Chowhound boards. I improvised a little, so I’ll try to describe it the way I did it. And while I used a whole chicken as the recipe suggested, next time I will just use boneless chicken pieces, which will make preparing this a lot easier. Or perhaps I’ll try lamb or a vegetarian version with eggplant.
While not exactly like Lebanese Taverna’s, this version was still really, really good. I’ll definitely make this again.
Fatteh Bel Djaje
For chicken and broth:
1 chicken, quartered (or 2-2.5 pounds or so of boneless chicken pieces)
1/2 lemon, cut into quarters (I used half an orange)
1 Tb ground cinnamon
1 tb salt
2 cups water (I needed a little more water to cover everything in the pot)
1 onion with 3 cloves stuck in it
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 large can chickpeas
For serving
1 quart plain yogurt (i use labneh or the thick greek yogurt, they work best)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup mints leaves, torn
1 cup pine nuts
3 Tb butter
2 pita breads cut into 1 inch squares
1/2 a pomegranate (if available)
Rice or couscous, for serving, if you want.
First, mix the yogurt with garlic and a pinch of salt and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. I’d keep it out of the fridge so it can come to room temperature.
Brown the chicken in a large large dutch oven or stockpot. Add lemon or orange, ground cinnamon, salt, water, onion with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. If you are using boneless chicken in small chunks, you can probably just leave it on the stove to to simmer. If you are using bigger pieces with the bone in, bring the water to a boil and put it in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on how big the pieces are.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the broth. Let it cool if you need to debone it. Strain and skim broth, pour over chickpeas and cook for 15-20 minutes. I reserved a little bit of broth and poured it back over the deboned chicken, covered it, and simmered on very low heat to keep it warm.
Cook the rice or couscous, if you are using it. (I used basmati rice, which works well with this.)
Fry pine nuts in 1 tb butter until brown.
Set them aside and fry the pita cubes in remaining butter until crisp.
To serve
Put rice or couscous in a shallow bowl. Top with chicken, chickpeas and a couple tablespoons of broth, and the yogurt mixture. Sprinkle the pine nuts, pita, mint, and pomegranate on top.
And convince people that despite the odd ingredient list, it is actually an incredibly delicious meal. The pomegranate seeds add sweetness, the pine nuts and pita are crunchy, the mint makes it fresh and bright, and all of them compliment the spicy chicken and garlicky yogurt beautifully.

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Curry dishes have always frightened me for some reason. The strange spices and herbs, a fear of making them too spicy or not spicy enough, and the fact that they tend to involve a large number of ingredients.

This recipe from Food and Wine, however, seemed simple enough. As it turned out, I had to make some changes as I went along to it to get it to work, but it all worked out deliciously.

Ingredients
1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper—cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
1 pound tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (from 1 ear)

1/4 cup Greek-style plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup water
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

My changes

The recipe called for what seemed to be a lot of oil, so I used about 2 tablespoons, and that was fine. I used 6 bone-in chicken thighs, with the skin, and the skin may have added extra fat that was lost when I cut out the oil, so if you go with skinless, you might need more oil.

I skipped the corn and instead, added a very finely minced green bell pepper. My farm share brought peppers and not corn this week, and this seemed like a good place to use it. What this meant was, that the final dish was quite spicy. So, I had to add about a tablespoon or so of brown sugar into the dish towards the end as it was simmering.

Finally, 1/4 cup of yogurt is not a lot at all. I wanted a lot of sauce to pour over rice. So I used about 3/4 cup, and doubled the amount of curry.

The resulting dish was still very spicy, but very good. I recommend just adding the spices and sugar slowly, tasting as you go. Well, don’t taste too soon or you’ll find yourself with a nice bout of salmonella, but you know what I mean.

Directions

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour, tapping off the excess. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook over high heat, turning once, until lightly browned, 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the ginger, garlic, chile and bell pepper to the skillet and cook over high heat until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, corn, yogurt and water; stir until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over very low heat until the chicken is tender and the juices are slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the chicken with cilantro and serve.

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