Every so often, Sarah and I can’t help but reminisce about our time in Istanbul after our first set of board exams in medical school. It was our first international trip together and the beginning of my Andrew-Zimmern-inspired adventures in trying as many bizarre foods as I could get my hands on (sheep’s head, chicken breast dessert, intestine sandwiches, raw meat kofta, etc). We were blown away the street food offerings of roasted corn, chestnuts, simit, fresh-pressed juice, fish sandwiches that cost us next to nothing and were the perfect way to stay energized throughout the day’s adventures.
One particularly warm day, we came across a vendor, whom we creatively nicknamed “Chicken Man,” rolling around a cart with glass display of rice and chickpeas topped with roast chickens. I was hungry as usual and decided to risk life and bowels to sample his wares under the skeptical gaze of my travel companions. Turns out he knew exactly what he was doing. By letting his roast chicken sit on top of the rice and chickpea mixture, the dripping infused everything with a savory and delicious chicken essence. Whole thing cost me $2.50 USD with no ill effects. So in the words of Andrew Zimmern, #IfItLooksGoodEatIt.
Yesterday evening we had our friends, David and Rachel, over for dinner. And feeling nostalgic and inspired, we turned to a modified Chicken and Cardamom Rice recipe from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook.
Chicken with Caramelized Onion & Cardamom Rice
- Currants/raisins 4 T
- Olive Oil 2 T
- Butter 2 T
- Onion 2, sliced thinly
- Chicken thighs 6
- Cardamom 2 T
- Cloves 1/4 t
- Cinnamon stick 2, broken in h
- Basmati rice 2 cups
- Chicken Broth* 2.5 cups
- Parsley 1/4 cup, rough chop
- Dill 1/4 cup, rough chop
- Cilantro 1/4 cup, rough chop
- Salt To taste
Melt 2 T of butter in pan over medium high heat. Add sliced onion and saute for 10-15 minutes until nicely caramelized. Remove onion from pan and place into small bowl. Place chicken thighs in large bowl and season with 1 T of salt and ground black pepper. Add olive oil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and mix well together with your hands. Heat up the pan once again and place in chicken with all spices starting skin side down.. Sear it until the skin turns golden and crispy. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Remove some of the oil from the pan, leaving a thin layer on the bottom. Add rice, caramelized onion, and currants/raisins and stir. Add the seared chicken into pan over the rice and pour in chicken broth. Cover the pan and cook for 30 minutes on low heat. Add parsley, dill, and cilantro on top and serve.
*The original recipe called for using boiling water. I wanted to enhance the savoriness and aroma of the dish. So I ended up making my own chicken broth with cloves. You can use store bought broth as well.