A delicious dish of saffron rice and chicken and almonds—with just a hint of cinnamon.
Soak Rice: in a large bowl, pour 2 C warm water, add 1/4 tsp. salt, and stir to dissolve. Add rice and stir. Let stand till water is absorbed (1-2 hours).
Saute: heat oil in a large saute pan. Add onion and sauté 5-7 minutes, till translucent. Add chopped chicken and saute quickly to brown. Add soaked rice and sauté 10 minutes till translucent, stirring and scraping all the while.
Assemble: in a separate bowl, soak saffron threads in 1 tsp. hot water for 5 minutes. Mix saffron with chicken broth and pour both into chicken/ rice mixture. Stir in almonds, peas, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
Cook: bring pilaf to a boil over medium heat, stirring continually, till most of the liquid evaporates. Add cinnamon and dill. Lower heat, cover, and cook 20 more minutes, till rice is tender. Serve immediately.
* The traditional recipe calls for 4 oz. of chicken breast—plus 4 oz. of chicken livers. I love chicken livers, but many do not. If you do (or your guests do), use them.
Tips & Glossary
You may not have all the ingredients used in Turkish cooking on your spice shelf, but you'll find them at Middle-East food stores. To avoid frustration, make a list of items you need before trying out the recipes.
Cumin: an aromatic, kin to parsley and carrots; an important ingredient in chili powder. Used especially in Indian curries, as well as in Mid-Eastern, Mexican, and Asian dishes. It has an earthy, peppery flavor.
Filo: aka phyllo, paper-thin sheets of raw, unleavened flour dough. Buy frozen in any grocery store and follow directions on package for thawing. When working with one sheet, keep others covered with a damp towel to prevent drying out.
Peeled Tomatoes: choose 1 of 2 methods: 1) hold tomatoes one-at-a-time over gas flame till skin bubbles and becomes charred; 2) drop all tomatoes into pot of boiling water for 45 seconds. After either method, run tomatoes under running water; skins will slip off easily.
Roasted peppers: buy them prepared. Or make your own: place peppers under a broiler, or hold over a gas flame, till skin chars and blisters. Place them in a closed paper bag for 15-20 minutes (to steam them). When cool enough to handle, the skins slip off under running water.
Rosewater: distilled from rose petals and used to flavor Mid-Eastern and Asian cooking. You can make your own—but why? Purchase it at Mid-East or Asian or food stores.
Saffron: the most expensive spice in the world, from the crocus plant, and cultivated in Iran and Spain. Along with its unusual taste, it adds a deep rich yellow color to food. Use a strand or two at a time and soak in warm water before using.
Skewers: use metal or wooden skewers for kabobs. If wooden, be sure to soak them for 30 minutes before using to prevent them from catching on fire.
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