Baked Yogurt Chicken and Sweet Iranian Rice

This was a rather complicated and time consuming dinner to make. I wanted to cook something that was different than what I had been eating for the past few days (jambalaya rice and beans) and something out of my around the world cookbook. I had never cooked Middle Eastern food before so I tried out two recipes out from that section and invited my friend Ian over for dinner. He is a garbage disposal so I figured that if it turned out bad he would still eat it.

Baked Yogurt Chicken

Now this recipe originally called for poussins. I’m not exactly sure what a poussin is. I think its a young spring chicken. Whatever it is Safeway doesn’t generally carry it. What Safeway was carrying on sale yesterday was chicken leg quarters. Six of them for $2.50! I used these instead of poussins. I found that the dish lacked a little flavor. Perhaps this was due to my exclusion of the saffron threads.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yogurt (I used non-fat)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil (I used vegetable oil since I didn’t have olive oil)
  • 1/2 large white onion, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 2-3 saffron strands (now I didn’t use saffron because it is expensive, but I bet it gives amazing flavor and color)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 chicken leg quarters, fat cut off and washed
  • salt and pepper

1. Blend together yogurt, olive oil, onion, garlic, paprika, saffron (if you’re using it), and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Place the chicken leg quarters in a shallow dish, pour over the marinade and then cover and allow to marinade for at least four hours in the fridge. I told you this recipe was time consuming.

3. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Arrange the leg quarters in a foil lined baking dish and bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes, basting until cooked.

Sweet Iranian Rice

Texture wise this was one of the best rice dishes I’ve ever prepared. Rice never turns out well on my stove top. This one turned out light and fluffy with the nice crunch of carrots and slivered almonds. I found the dish to be too sweet as the only side to almost bland chicken. I think it would be nice served with some other dishes as well or as a dessert.

Ingredients

  • 1 orange
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 3 carrots cut into julienne strips
  • 1/2 cup mixed pistachios, almonds, and pine nuts (I only had almonds)
  • 1 cup basmati rice soaked in salt water for two hours
  • 2-3 saffron threads (again I didn’t use these)

Procedure

1. Cut the peel from the oranges in wide strips using a peeler, then cut the peel into thin shreds.

2. Place the strips of peel in a sauce with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes, drain and repeat this process until you have removed the bitter flavor from the peel. It took me three times.

3. Place the peel back in the pan with 1 tbsp. of sugar and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and then simmer until water is reduced by half. Set aside.

4. Heat 1 tbsp. of melted butter in a frying pan and fry the carrots for 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining sugar and 4 tbsp. of water and simmer for 10 minutes until almost evaporated.

5. Stir the carrots and half of the nuts into the orange peel and set aside. Drain the rice, boil in salted water for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer very gently for 10 minutes until half cooked. Drain and rinse.

6. Heat the remaining butter in the pan and add 1 tbsp. of water. Fork a little of the rice into the pan and spoon on some of the orange mixture. Make layers until all the mixture has been used.

7. Cook gently for 10 minutes. Put a lid on the pan and steam for another twenty minutes.

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