Baharat Spiced Persian Roasted Chicken

109726378_3067051656677298_2260557059472754986_oBaharat is often used in Arabic cooking- most commonly in Persian and Turkish dishes to add spice and a little heat to meat dishes, couscous, and tagines. The warm exotic flavors of Baharat are an easy way to spice up simple dishes and give them a little intrigue.

The word “Baharat” simply means “spices” in Arabic, and this wonderfully complex blend has a unique balance of flavors. The chicken is rubbed down with salt and Baharat Spice, seared on the stove and finished in the oven until golden and crispy. Serve with saffron rice, cucumber yogurt sauce and salad and you’ll have a simple, delicious, Middle Eastern style dinner.

baharat-spice-mix

Photo Credit: Feasting at Home, 2014.

Baharat consists of cumin, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, peppercorns, allspice, star of anise and black lemon. For the record, black Lemons are actually dried limes, and owe their misnomer to the English translation from Arabic. They are typically used in Middle East cooking to add sourness or acidity to chutneys, soups and stews and even ground into flat breads.Ground Black Lemons have a sweet-tart flavor that is unique and really has no substitute. You can order black lemons from specialty gourmet markets found online. For this recipe, if you cannot find black lemons, you can omit them. However, in this case I used finely grated lime zest and a pinch of sugar.

Traditionally, to make the Baharat spice mix, you would normal roast whole spices and then place all the spices in a coffee grinder, and pulse until it is ground. In this version, ground spices were used. It’s perfectly fine to substitute ground spices, although the more whole seeds you have, the better the flavor. But don’t let the lack of the whole seeds stop you from making this dish.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
4 – 6 Chicken thighs, bone in, skin on.
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Baharat Spice Blend:
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
3 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cardamon
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground star of anise
1/2 teaspoon finely ground lime zest

For the Cucumber Salad:
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 large English cucumber, thinly sliced
2 –3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, dill, parsley and cilantro
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 small  shallot, minced
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
A pinch of cayenne  pepper

For Serving:
Cooked Jasmine Rice
Cucumber Salad, see recipe below.

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 º F.

Place the cucumber in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.

To make the  Barahat Spice, add all the spices to a small bowl and stir to combine.

Sprinkle both sides of  the chicken generously with kosher salt. Rub in a generous amount , abut ¾ teaspoon of Baharat Spice on both sides of each piece of chicken.

Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Sear chicken, in hot oil, skin side down for 3 – 4 minutes, until golden and crispy. Turn over and sear other side, turning heat down to medium. Sear another 3 – 4 minutes. Place the skillet in the middle of the oven, uncovered, and baked until cooked through, about 15 – 20 minutes or until internal temp reaches 170 º F ( for thighs) and juices run clear. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

To make cucumber salad, drain the cucumber slices and pat dry with paper towels. Add the cucumber the remaining salad ingredients to a medium bowl. Gently fold to combine.

To serve family style, arrange the chicken on a platter and garnish fresh mint leaves, if desired. Serve the chicken with the Jasmine rice and cucumber salad.

 

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Stir Fried Chicken with Asian Vegetables

IMG_0132 stiry fry chicken with vegetables and ginger and honey
This Asian inspired chicken  stir-fry dish has the taste of  syrupy honey and spicy ginger  paired with savory-sweet oyster sauce and aromatic Chinese five-spice.The addition of snow peas brightens the color of the dish and adds a little snap and makes this a one-skillet meal.  Just note that in preparation, the chicken marinates for 15 minutes before cooking, making it is a good time to prep the snow peas. For a complete meal, serve this dish with steamed rice.
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS:
For the Chicken:
¼ cup oyster sauce
3 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey, plus more to serve
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut crosswise into thin slices
5 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
4 ounces snow peas, trimmed
2 ounces baby corn
2 ounces julienned carrots
For Serving:
Steamed Rice
DIRECTIONS:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oyster sauce, sherry, soy sauce, honey, five-spice and ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir in the chicken and ginger. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
snow-pea-honey-stir-fried-chicken-step-1
In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Using a slotted spoon, add the chicken and ginger to the skillet in an even layer; reserve the marinade. Cook without stirring until lightly browned and the drippings at the edges of the pan are deeply caramelized, about 3 minutes.
Add the snow peas, corn, carrots and reserved marinade, then cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until the peas are crisp-tender and the chicken is opaque throughout, another 3 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Serve drizzled with additional honey, if desired.

COOK’S NOTES:
Do not add the chicken to the skillet until the oil begins to smoke. A very hot pan achieves quick browning and liquid reduction without overcooking the lean chicken breast.

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Braised Moroccan Eggplant

Many older recipes call for salting raw eggplant before cooking it to temper the vegetable’s tendency toward bitterness. These days the bitterness has largely been bred out, but salting eggplant is still a good way to reduce the amount of oil that this versatile vegetable absorbs. For even more aroma and herbaceous flavor, add fresh mint and cilantro leaves to the basil for garnish.

 

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 Japanese eggplant or other small, oblong eggplant, about 1 lb.
Kosher salt, to taste
One can (14 oz) whole plum tomatoes with juices
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
2 tablespoons minced preserved lemon peel

Directions:
Trim the eggplant and cut into halves or thick slices. Put the eggplant into a colander, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and toss to coat evenly. Set the colander in a sink and let the eggplant stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the tomatoes and their juices into a bowl and crush the tomatoes with your hand or a potato masher. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil and garlic, swirling the pan to flavor the oil, until the garlic starts to sizzle but does not color, about 1 minute. Add the salted eggplant and stir until well coated. Pour in 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the eggplant is tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover and gently stir in the tomatoes, cumin, paprika and coriander. Increase the heat to medium-high and let cook at a brisk simmer, shaking the pan occasionally, until the tomatoes thicken, about 10 minutes longer.

Remove from the heat and discard the garlic, if desired. Transfer the eggplant to a serving dish and sprinkle with the basil leaves and the preserved lemon. Serve warm or at room temperature.