Saturday, 8 October 2011

Moroccan Roll

Pollo Orientale Speziato con Riso allo Zafferano ai Crespini
Spicy Oriental Chicken with Barberry Saffron Rice

On my weekly cruise through the market hall here in Frankfurt today, I stumbled upon this beautiful version of the spice mix "Ras al Hanout"- which you could describe as the "curry" of the Orient. Similarly to curries, this is a collection of Moroccan spices that give the typical and authentic flavor to many an Oriental meal. The ingredients are ginger, cardamom, mace, cinnamon, allspice, coriander seeds, nutmeg, turmeric, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper and rose petals... wow! You have GOT to love that!

The other ingredient I picked up was barberries- exotic little red berries with a tangy/fruity flavor. And although this is a Moroccan spice-mix, I decided to make a dish which is loosely based on the Persian recipe called "Zereshk Pollo", which is one of my favorites. All you need to make it are those 2 exotic ingredients- the rest is stuff you most probably have at home and a little chicken. I decided to use thigh meat, which I removed from the bone, as I find it to be juicier and more flavorful, but you can also use breast I suppose. Otherwise, the other ingredients are carrots, onion, garlic, raisins and Basmati rice. Oh- you DO already have those things at home? Good- then lets get started!

The rice was prepared as usual, with a little saffron added for color and for a little perfume.
Whilst that was steaming away, I cut the carrot into the finest julienne I could manage, and sliced some onion equally fine. I chose to use a red onion today, but any type of onion will do. I finely chopped some garlic to go with it, grated a little orange zest into it and squeezed the juice ready for later.

The barberries I bought today were nice and fresh and vibrant red and needed no soaking. If you can only get the dried ones, make sure to soak them for 5-10 minutes first.

First things first- we need to get those spices ready! I dry-roasted them in a frying pan to bring out the flavors better- as you would for an Indian dish, and then ground them in my mortar and pestle, ready to be used in just a few minutes. Now quickly fry the chicken pieces until they are brown on all sides for 5 minutes and remove from the heat. In the same pan, fry the rest of the ingredients together, with a little clarified butter. Add the spices and a handful of barberries and raisins and turn the heat up a little higher. When the mix begins to stick a little, add the orange juice and the chicken and continue cooking on a smaller flame.

Serve on a bed of perfumed saffron rice with a few barberries added for color- this really is a beautiful and colorful dish! A couple of sprigs of parsley are all you will need as a garnish and a nice chilled glass of white... mmm!

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