Asian Dishes, Middle Eastern/Turkish

Saudi Kabsa Chicken

The Girl asked for Arabic rice today. I usually make mandhi rice or some form of Arabic rice other than the National Saudi dish- kabsa. Why? Because nobody has taught me how!

But today, I took out a recipe from this amazing book called Feast and followed to the T her kabsa recipe. This recipe called for meat, but I used chicken instead.

Here’s the recipe from the book:

I’ve decided to use the pressure cooker instead. First, sautée the green chilli and onions. Fry until onions are soft. Then add tomato paste and ginger garlic paste. Stir well and then add the chicken to brown. Once browned, add the tomatoes, spices and water. Then pressure cook till done.

Remove chicken and set aside. Grill the chicken in the air fryer or oven when ready to serve.

Add the soaked basmati rice, grated carrots and salt to season. Cook till done.

To serve, fry some sultanas and almonds and sprinkle over rice and chicken. And it’s done! A simple simple dish to make but very flavourful!

Firstly, soften onions and the sole split green chilli till onions are soft. Add ginger garlic paste and a tablespoon of tomato paste. Stir well.
Then add chicken which has been cleaned and quartered skin side down fill nicely browned.
When the chicken is browned, turn over the chicken pieces and add in the spices and tomatoes.

I used a pressure cooker next but you can just add some water and salt, leave it to cook. Remove chicken once they are tender.

Cover with foil and set aside till ready to serve. Just about serving time, grill chicken in an air fryer or a hot oven till they nicely grilled.

Add carrots and rice and cook. Now, this is where I failed badly. Because I used a pressure cooker, I couldn’t gauge the liquid amount. And so the rice was a disaster. It was too soft and mushy. So I made another batch of rice, cooking it in the rice cooker instead. I followed the same steps but omitted the carrots this time round because I had used up all the carrots I had for the failed attempt. The rice cooker is always the best choice! I will never cook rice in a pressure cooker again. What a waste of food and effort!

This was the second batch of rice from the rice cooker. I transferred it to a steamer to steam and keep warm.
To serve, grill the chicken in the air fryer. It gives that smoky flavour. Place rice in a serving platter. Put the chicken on top of the bed of rice. Sprinkle almonds and raisins that have been fried in a bit of oil and butter till
golden. Delicious!
And if there’s some leftover, pack a box for your loved ones. In this case, for my Mama who’s living all by herself, alone. 😌

I must say that this recipe is for keeps. I ground the cardamom myself. As well as the black pepper. I think making your own spices do make a difference to the overall fragrance of the dish. Try this Saudi National dish and your lockdown days will be a tad cheerier. Ma’assalama 👋🏽

Middle Eastern/Turkish, Poultry, Rice

Saffron Rice with Za’atar Chicken

Today’s simple dinner was inspired by sheer inertia. After staying home for several days cooking daily, I decided to create something simple yet delicious.

Saffron rice is really simple to make. This time round I used butter from an Indian store here. The butter is imported from India and it’s got a very strong flavour. Not good on bread or western type of cooking but for this rice, because it reminded me of ghee, I thought it made the rice more flavourful.

This is the brand of butter. I’ll never buy this again when this butter runs out because it’s just too strong for my daily use.

Add about 50g of butter together with a few swirls of olive oil into a saucepan. Add half a white onion finely chopped and a stick of cinnamon. Over low fire, cook the onions till very soft and translucent.
In a separate small bowl, add a pinch of saffron to some milk. In the saucepan with the softened onions now, add about 500 ml
of chicken stock (I used boxed ones) and two teaspoons of salt. Add the saffron milk mixture and stir well. Pour the liquid into two cups of washed basmati rice that have been sitting in a rice cooker. Close the rice cooker lid and press the ‘cook’ button. We Asians cannot live without a rice cooker! Hassle free staple every day!

For the za’atar chicken, marinade a small whole chicken with two tablespoons of za’atar spice blend, one whole lemon juice, salt and olive oil. Before roasting in the oven, marinade the chicken for a few hours.

And voila! The rice turned out perfect! It was flavourful and the chicken was tasty and juicy and crispy all at the same time.
I served this with a side of mesclun greens and a bowl of coriander, tomato, green chilli and lemon juice chutney made from scratch. Just blend one fresh tomato (roast them over a flame or in a pan first), two green chillies (depending on how hot you like), a bunch of coriander and one whole lemon juice. Season with some salt.

Meat, Middle Eastern/Turkish

Lamb Tagine with Salty and Sweet Dried Prunes

I made lamb tagine in a sauce pan pot after reading a lot of websites and watching YouTube videos. This I reckon is a good tagine because the seasoning is mild but fragrant. I learnt using one important spice that made a lot of difference from watching this lady Chef from a hotel make it on YouTube. The secret ingredient is…ground cinnamon!

Tagine is so simple to make (compared to Malay, Indian or Peranakan cooking you know) and so I’ll be making this quite often since the family loves it so much. But of course, different variations. Lamb is costly here in Singapore 😦

Here in my bowl, I have 1.8 kg of good quality lamb cubes. Marinade with 1 tbsp of ground cumin, 1 tbsp of ground coriander, 1/2 tbsp of sweet smoked paprika and 1 tbsp of ground cinnamon. Of course, add salt to taste before this.

Sauté two large white onions which have been quite finely chopped. Add ginger and garlic paste. Sauté till onions are soft and wilted.

Add marinated lamb cubes. Stir and brown lamb cubes. Then add 250 ml of chicken stock (I used the packet ones) and salt. Add some saffron threads, about half a teaspoon. Close lid and mimic tagine cooking. (I’m so buying a tagine soon).

While the meat is stewing away, in another saucepan, add some of the stewing liquid from the lamb and salted sweet prunes. By right, you should use sweet prunes. But…well when I went to the Chinese grocer, he had only these so I got them. But because these are saltier than normal prunes, I had to add more honey. So I added 3 tbsp of honey, 2 tsp of ground cinnamon and some water till the prunes are soft and have expanded somewhat.

Stir the prune mixture once the lamb is cooked and tender. Before that, I had added some carrots too. Don’t add too early or the carrots will be too mushy.

And I had some very sweet and delicious boiled Australian white potatoes. I pan fried the boiled cubes of potatoes in some butter and added them in too.

Lastly, stir in fresh coriander and then serve with the easy flatbread from Jamie Oliver’s wonderful recipe.

Before serving, sprinkle some dried fruits and nuts which you can easily purchase now in the snack section.

My lunch spread yesterday. Tagine with flatbread and roasted bone marrow and garlic baked chicken wings. I love the holiday season. More cooking coming up!

Bread and Batter, Indian, Middle Eastern/Turkish

Easy Flatbread

I finally decided to make Jamie Oliver’s flatbread after so many people around me have raved about how simple and good the recipe is.

And indeed it is! I made using 2.5 cups of plain flour, 2 tubs (140g each) of yogurt, baking powder, salt and enough olive oil to form a dough. Let the dough rest for at least half an hour after kneading and forming them into two balls.

For the flatbreads I made, I tried to mimic naan bread and hence slathered some melted butter, garlic and coriander before placing the dough on a hot pan.

This is indeed an easy and cost saving option if you ever need some good bread for gravy dishes or curries. I served mine with some leftover keema (minced meat Indian curry) I had bought the previous day from a hawker centre.

breakfast, Middle Eastern/Turkish

Turkish Eggs

I first ate Turkish eggs in one of those hipster cafes here and was pleasantly surprised by how delicious that bowl of poached eggs were.

This morning I decided to make Turkish eggs using Nigella Lawson’s sort of recipe? Or maybe method is the correct word which I found on YouTube.

It’s incredibly easy to make. I only had one ingredient missing – the Aleppo pepper. But I substituted that with smoked sweet paprika and it worked very well indeed.

The first step is to make the chilli oil. I places about 30g of butter in a small pan and melted it slowly till brown. It could do a bit browner but I didn’t want to risk burning my butter so when they were all nicely melted and slightly brown, I added a few swigs of good quality olive oil and sprinkled a strong dash of the smoked paprika from the tin.

Then mix a packet of Greek yogurt with some sea salt. And last make the poached egg and assemble.

Sprinkle some parsley and sea salt over the egg and eat with toasted ciabatta slices. Heavenly!! This is now my favourite breakfast dish to make. So simple yet satisfying.