As my son went off to his casual fill in job as dishwasher at a very fancy restaurant this afternoon – Mel and I have never eaten there, but Toby gets to eat their beautiful food on his food break! – he said that I should make sure to save some of that Syrian chicken for him. So it sounds like I can sometimes compete with a fancy schmantzy restaurant with a French chef, no less! This recipe is from Karen Martini (great name!) who writes for the Sunday Age. She's been away on maternity leave but her column returns tomorrow. Welcome back, Karen!
Syrian chicken with ginger, lemon and saffron
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp ground turmeric
size 14-16 free-range chicken, cut into 8 pieces (NOTE: size 14 = 1.4 kg = 3 lbs, size 16 = 1.6 kg = 3.5 lbs)
100ml olive oil
2 brown onions, thickly sliced
100g fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, bruised with the back of a knife
2 small red chillies, split
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 pinches saffron threads
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
5 sprigs thyme
1 lemon, juiced and zest finely grated
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp vegetable stock powder
1/2 bunch coriander leaves
cooked couscous or rice, to serve
Combine salt, cumin, cinnamon, pepper and turmeric in a large plastic bag or container with well fitting lid.
Add chicken pieces and shake to coat.
Heat olive oil in a large heavy-based pan over high heat. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onions, ginger, garlic and chillies to pan and cook for 3 minutes, adding a little more oil, if necessary. Add tomatoes, saffron, cumin seeds and thyme and cook for 2 minutes.
Return chicken to pan and add lemon juice and zest, honey, currants, stock powder and enough water to just cover chicken. Cover with a lid and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through and sauce is slightly reduced. Stir in coriander. Serve with couscous or rice. Serves 4