Rice with Chicken in the Bottom
This Arabic recipe is from Celia Ann Brock - Al Ansari’s “The Complete United Arab Emirates Cookbook.” Here’s the special recipe for you to pamper your taste buds and fill in your appetite.
You will need : Bezar(Arabic curry powder), salt, chicken (1 kg/2.2 lbs), cardamom, turmeric, basmati rice (2 cups), vegetable oil, garlic, sliced onions, tomato puree(available in the market), saffron (soaked in water), yoghurt, lemon slices, spices, dried limes, a cooking pot, a pan, a wet cloth or wet paper towel.
Prepare this dish in a non-stick pot, for once it is cooked, the process of transferring it to a round rice platter can be tricky, Care must be taken to avoid breaking the crust which forms around the bottom of the rice pot. It is an attractive and mouth watering dish to present which is usually served with sliced limes plain yoghurt and raw sliced onion. This grand dish can also feature meat or fish instead of chicken.
The basic ingredient for an Arabic spice mix is called bezar or bizar. Widely available in the local grocery stores, it is similar to the Indian curry powder. These ingredients might cost somewhere around 11 dhs (US$3) and could be made very easily by grinding up whole spices or even buying the mixed powder ones.
To start, clean up the whole chicken (1 kg/ 2.2 lbs), rub it with salt, bezar, turmeric and cardamom and let the chicken absorb the mixture by keeping it undisturbed for 15 minutes. While the chicken is left to be marinated, boil 1 cup of basmati rice in water and put salt in accordingly.
Depending upon the number of people to serve, one can manage the quantity of rice from 2 cups or 4 cups.
After 15 minutes get over, take out the chicken from the mixture, by now most of it must have been absorbed by the pieces. Now take not more than 1 table spoon of vegetable oil and heat in a wide pan that can hold all chicken pieces. Once it gets heated, put the chicken pieces in the hot oil and let them brown. The browning of chicken would definitely seem very tempting because of the aroma of all the spices including bezar and specially cardamom.
Once it gets brown, take out the chicken from the pan and put in some more oil to brown some garlic and onions and add some grounded loomi (dried limes), chickpeas (just a little bit), and tomato paste with a little water. Tomatoes can be used in the form of tomato puree available in the market which happens to be a thick paste of tomatoes.
Now it is time to assemble everything. Put some oil in the pot in which the dish is supposed to be cook. Let the amount of oil be such that a crust is formed at the bottom of the pot. Add rice, chicken and hot onion/ tomato mixture. Press everything with a tablespoon and then pour in the saffron that had been soaking in hot water. Let the mixture heat in the pot and cover the hot pot with a wet cloth or paper towel. Let the mixture simmer for 20 min and then take it off the heat. Let it cool for 10 minutes.
Now flip the pot upside down to obtain the dish at a platter and decorate the dish with coriander leave to make it attractive. Garnish the dish well. So for the record, you have prepared “Rice with Chicken in the bottom”. To serve, use lemon slices and yoghurt with sliced onions.
Meat Fried with Spices
Another very simple dish to make is Meat fried with spices, but take my words, it comes out to be the most delicious dish on earth. It is called ‘La ham nashif’ in Arabic or meat fried with spices and is a simple one pot dish. The spices in the dish include the bezar, ground cardamom and turmeric.
Cut the lamb and clean to prepare some lamb chunks. Boil them in water for 45 minutes to make them tender.
Fry some sliced onions in the in the vegetable oil until they turn golden brown.
Add spices and garlic to the onions after they brown in the oil.
After a few minutes, add the lamb pieces and some water to make thick gravy.
Heat it till it forms a thick curry and serve it all up over basmati rice. The spices bring a miracle to the tender lamb pieces.
I hope these dishes make a good food for you and you cherish the taste.