Sam’s spiced chicken and Is­raeli cous­cous salad

Sub­sti­tute the chicken for salmon if you like, or the cous­cous for brown rice. Vari­a­tions on this dish will see you through sum­mer.

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

Here’s a bit of trivia for you: Is­raeli cous­cous, or ptitim in He­brew, was in­vented dur­ing a pe­riod of aus­ter­ity in 1950s Is­rael, when rice was vir­tu­ally in­ac­ces­si­ble. The then Prime Minister, David Ben-Gu­rion, chal­lenged a lo­cal food com­pany to de­velop a wheat sub­sti­tute for rice, and the re­sult was so suc­cess­ful that it en­dures to this day. I love it be­cause it makes such a bril­liant base for sal­ads. Aside from a slight vari­a­tion in shape, orzo, risoni and fre­gola are all es­sen­tially the same as Is­raeli cous­cous; swap them around as you see fit.

This is how I like to cook all sum­mer. Per­haps I’ll use hot smoked salmon in­stead of chicken; or swap out the cous­cous for brown rice. Play it by ear. Add flavours as you like. You might want to play around with the herbs. I hear there are pomegranates grow­ing lo­cally at last – get hold of one if you can and fold in some of those bright beau­ti­ful seeds. Or dress with some of Lot Eight’s gor­geous harissa olive oil. Damn de­li­cious, I must say.


Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: 30 mins Serves 4-6 800g free-range bone­less chicken thighs 2 tbsp cumin seeds ½ tsp cin­na­mon Olive oil 1 lemon 1.5 cups of Is­raeli cous­cous, fre­gola or orzo 4 red radishes, finely sliced Small hand­ful each of mint, flat leaf pars­ley, dill and

chives, roughly chopped Quar­ter of an ice­berg let­tuce, finely sliced 1 small Lebanese cu­cum­ber or half a tele­graph

cu­cum­ber, diced 4 tbsp thick Greek yo­ghurt, lab­neh or sour cream An­other lemon Pre­heat the oven to 200C, on fan grill.

Com­bine the chicken with the cumin seeds, cin­na­mon, about a ta­ble­spoon of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a gen­er­ous sea­son­ing of salt and pep­per. Place chicken on a roast­ing dish and quickly grill for about 15-20 min­utes, un­til it is golden brown and cooked through. Set aside to cool down a lit­tle.

In the mean­time, bring a large saucepan of salted wa­ter to the boil. Add the cous­cous or fre­gola and let it re­turn to a gen­tle boil. Leave to sim­mer for about 10 min­utes, un­til the pasta is al dente. Drain and rinse, and trans­fer to a large bowl. Add an­other ta­ble­spoon of olive oil, the sliced radish, three quar­ters of the chopped herbs, the sliced let­tuce, chopped cu­cum­ber and re­main­ing juice and zest from the lemon and fold ev­ery­thing to­gether. Taste and sea­son ac­cord­ingly. Spread over a large plat­ter. Slice the chicken thighs up and scat­ter over the top of the salad mix­ture.

Com­bine the yo­ghurt with the re­main­ing chopped herbs, the zest and juice from the sec­ond lemon, and a gen­er­ous amount of salt and pep­per. Dol­lop over the top of the salad, and serve im­me­di­ately.

Pho­to­graph & Styling/ Sam Man­ner­ing

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