IRAQI OVERNIGHT-BAKED CHICKEN WITH ROSE PETALS
Recipe Phillippa Cheifitz
for the stuffing
1T salt in some hot water 2 cups long-grain rice 2T (heaped) tomato paste 2 large tomatoes, skinned,
seeded and diced 1t (heaped) ground allspice ¾t ground cardamom salt and pepper to taste 12 rose petals, dried and
unsprayed 250g stewing beef, diced small ½ cup sunflower oil
1×2kg chicken 2 onions, chopped ⅛t turmeric 4 cups boiling water salt and milled pepper
To make the stuffing, rinse the rice and soak for several hours in enough salted hot water to cover it. Drain one cup of the soaked rice and mix with one tablespoon of tomato paste and two tablespoons of diced tomato. Add the allspice, a quarter of a teaspoon of the cardamom and seasoning to taste. Remove any green from the rose petals and crumble six of them into the bowl. Mix in the beef and one tablespoon of the oil.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Wash the chicken and, using a sharp knife, remove the wings, then carefully peel the skin back from the entire chicken and reserve it. Remove the legs and thighs from the chicken and cut into two pieces each. Cut out the backbone of the chicken and wash the chicken again. Open up the chicken skin to make a pouch and fill loosely with the stuffing, then sew it closed with some string.
Heat the remaining oil in a heavy fire-proof casserole and add the onions, sautéing until translucent. Add the remaining diced tomatoes, seasoning to taste, and the turmeric. Then add the chicken pieces and the stuffed pouch and sauté them in the sauce on all sides. Pour in the four cups of boiling water and add the remaining tomato paste, the rest of the cardamom and some seasoning. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces and pouch, and season.
Add the remaining rose petals and the rest of the rice to the boiling broth. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally so that the rice doesn’t stick.
Place the chicken pieces and the pouch on the bed of just-boiled rice, covered, and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, then reduce the heat to 120°C and bake for two to three hours, or reduce to 75°C and leave in the oven overnight. The rice will be tender. Serve with a green salad and pickled mangoes or mango atchar.