Spiced chicken madrooba
Prep Cook Serves 40 min 3 hr 20 min 8
1 whole chicken (about 1.4kg)
5 onions, 1 peeled and cut into 4 wedges, 2 peeled and finely chopped and 2 peeled and thinly sliced
1 head garlic, halved widthways, plus 8 cloves, peeled and crushed
2 cinnamon sticks Salt and black pepper
165ml olive oil 2½cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
4 green chillies,
3 finely chopped seeds and all,
1 thinly sliced
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cumin 1 tbsp ground coriander
1½ tsp turmeric 7-8 plum tomatoes, coarsely grated and skins discarded (600g net weight) 2½ tbsp tomato paste
30g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
30g parsley leaves, roughly chopped 30g dill leaves, roughly chopped 300g jareesh or 150g coarse bulgur wheat, washed until the water runs clear 2 tbsp lemon juice 500g swiss chard, stems discarded and leaves roughly shredded (320g) 1½ tsp aleppo chilli flakes (or ¾ tsp if using a spicier variety), to garnish
This is an epic dish in the best sense of the word. Yes, it takes a bit of effort, both in prep and in beating the chicken and cracked wheat, but the result will surprise, delight and fill you up. The word hails from the Gulf and translates as “beaten”. is a form of ground wheat that can be found in Middle Eastern stores, but you can also use coarse bulgur wheat. Any leftovers keep well in the fridge and can be reheated another day.
Jareesh madrooba Put the chicken, onion wedges, head of garlic, cinnamon sticks, two litres of water and two teaspoons of salt in a large stockpot for which you have a lid. Bring to a boil on a medium-high heat, skimming off the froth as you go, then turn down the heat to medium-low, cover and leave to simmer gently for 80 minutes, or until the chicken is falling off the bone. Transfer the chicken to a bowl, then roughly pull the meat off the bone, shredding it as you go and discarding the skin, cartilage and bones. Strain the stock into a second pan and discard the solids.
Measure out 1.7 litres if you are using jareesh or 1.2 litres if you are using bulgur (save any extra stock for another use). On a medium-high flame, heat four tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy-based cast-iron pot for which you have a lid. Add the chopped onion and fry, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes, until softened and deeply browned. Add the ginger, chopped chillies and two-thirds of the crushed garlic, cook for another minute, then stir in the spices, tomatoes, tomato paste, two-thirds of the herbs, two and a quarter teaspoons of salt and a good grind of pepper, and cook for seven minutes, or until thickened.
Add the jareesh or bulgur, shredded chicken and stock, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to its lowest setting, cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for an hour, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the wheat has cooked through. Off the heat, whisk the mix vigorously for 10 minutes, until it resembles porridge, then stir in the remaining herbs and lemon juice.
Meanwhile, heat three tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan on a medium heat. Fry the sliced onion, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until caramelised. Turn the heat to medium-high, add the remaining crushed garlic and cook for one minute. Stir in the chard in batches, add a third of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and cook for three more minutes, until wilted.
To serve, spoon the madrooba into a large, shallow serving bowl. Top with the chard mixture, sliced chilli, remaining four tablespoons of oil and a sprinkling of chilli flakes.