Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you had a great time over the festive period! When I was in Australia I spent some time exploring a deli called Jones’ in Paddington, Sydney. They had a book there called ‘Saha’ by Greg and Lucy Malouf which has an amazing array of Syrian and Lebanese recipes. I had never cooked Syrian food or eaten it for that matter until I visited an amazingly kept secret in the eastern suburbs. I visited a restaurant called Almond in Darlinghurst for my birthday which blew my mind and since then I have been keen to cook more Syrian style food. I found this recipe in Saha and made a few personal changes as not all the ingredients were available to me.
Musakhan Spicy Chicken baked with spinach, chickpea and pine nuts
Ingredients - Serves 4
· 8 chicken thighs
· 2 cloves garlic crushed with pinch of salt
· 1 tsp cinnamon
· 2 tsp cumin
· 1 tsp ground black pepper
· 2 tbsp olive oil
Rest of the dish
· 40 ml olive oil
· 2 onions finely grated
· 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
· 1 tsp nutmeg
· 3 tsp sumac
· 500g bag of baby spinach washed
· 150g chickpeas, drained and washed
· 300ml chicken stock
· Juice of 1 lemon
· 150g pine nuts
· Baking paper and string
· Yoghurt and toasted sourdough to serve
· Salt and pepper
1. Mix the garlic, spices and olive oil of the marinade and rub on the chicken. Leave in a cool place to marinade for 1-2 hours.
2. Pre heat the oven to 200c, gas mark 4. In the meantime put the chickpeas in a bowl and crush them slightly with a potato masher or fork. Heat 2/3 of the oil in a non stick pan and sauté the onions and garlic until they are soft and the liquid has evaporated. Add the spices and stir in well. Add the spinach to the pan and then the squished chickpeas ten add half the stock. Turn up the heat and boil for 5 minutes or until the stock has evaporated.
3. Put the pine nuts in a dry frying pan and heat until they go slightly golden.
4. Remove the spinach dish from the heat and add the toasted pine nuts and lemon juice. Set aside in a bowl until needed.
5. Add the remaining olive oil to the now empty spinach pan and heat up until the oil is hot. Add in the chicken thighs skin side down and place a piece of baking paper over the pan to prevent splash back. Cook until the skin is golden and then turn over so that the meat is seared on all sides.
6. Cut up 4 pieces of baking paper, roughly 30cm square. Place a few table spoons of the spinach mixture in the middle of the paper and then two pieces of chicken on top. Gather the sides of the paper together and tie into a bag using string. Place on an oven try and bake for 30-40 minutes carefully checking first that the chicken is no longer pink. If necessary cook for a further 10 minutes.
7. When the chicken is in the oven, return the remaining spinach to the now empty chicken pan with the remaining stock. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes on a gentle heat.
8. Present individual parcels and serve with toasted sourdough, yoghurt and the remaining spinach.
I have recently returned to the UK after a year in Australia where I was incredibly inspired by the fresh food, completely different breeds of fish and the style of outdoor cooking.
So much so I came back with several cook books and lots of enthusiasm. I also realised whilst I was there that I used my blog as a mobile cookery book as a lot of my favourite recipes are on here.
Consequently it has made me want to take up the challenge of a new receipe a week again as I don’t want to slip back into that food rut!
So same deal as before, I will try out one new recipe a week whether it is made up, inspired by a friend, book, TV or other and post the results! If any one has requests as well let me know.
Until then Happy Cooking!