food for thought

by michelle

chicken with cardamom rice + spinach salad with dates

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Two fragrant dishes from JERUSALEM by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

This one-pot chicken and rice dish is wonderfully spiced, rich with caramelised onions, tangy with barberries and fresh with herbs.

chicken-with-onions-and-rice

First put 2-3 tablespoons of sugar into a small saucepan with an equal amount of water and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, add 25g (less than 1 oz)  of dried barberries and set aside to soak. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large sauté pan which has a lid. Fry 2 finely sliced onions over medium heat until quite brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. For this recipe you can either cut a whole chicken into pieces or use portions. Place them in a bowl and season well with 1½ teaspoons of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add 10 bruised cardmom pods, 2 broken cinnamon quills, ½ a teaspoon of whole cloves and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix well with your hands. Heat the pan again and sear the chicken pieces on each side for a few minutes then remove from the pan. Now add 300g (10½ oz) of basmati rice to the pan along with the caramelised onions, the strained barberries, 1 teaspoon of salt and more freshly ground black pepper. Stir well then push the chicken pieces into the rice. Pour in 550ml (18½ fl oz) of boiling water then cover the pan and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and quickly replace with a tea towel or paper towels under it. Allow to stand for a further 10 minutes. Garnish with 15g (½ oz) of chopped herbs consisting of equal parts parsley, dill and coriander (cilantro).

This baby spinach salad with dates and almonds has a wonderful balance of fresh, tart, sweet and crunchy elements.

spinach-salad-with-dates

In a small bowl combine ½ a finely sliced red onion, 100g (3½ oz) of pitted and quartered Medjool dates, a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Mix well and allow to marinate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile heat 1½ tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a fry pan. Add approximately 100g (3½ oz) of torn pita bread and 75g (2½ oz) of roughly chopped whole almonds. Cook, stirring, until the pita pieces are crunchy and golden brown. Remove from the heat and add 2 teaspoons of sumac, ½ a teaspoon of chilli flakes and ¼ of a teaspoon of salt. Set aside to cool. When ready to serve, place baby spinach leaves, the pita and almonds and the drained dates and onions in a salad bowl. Add a little olive oil, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and some salt to taste. Toss and serve immediately.

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