Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tashreeb Dijaaj And Tabbouleh

Tashreeb, an Iraqi chicken and chick peas stew.

I'm reading 'Best Food Writing 2009' and on page 187 is a recipe for an Iraqi chicken stew with chick peas which also appeared in Saveur sometime ago. When I found that sumac, a spice from the fruits of the sumac plant widely used in the Middle East, is one of the ingredients in the recipe,  I immediately got into action. I got some sumac in Dubai earlier this year and am unsure how to use it. Sumac, btw, tastes slightly sourish but is quite pleasant. It doesn't have a strong flavor and if you don't have it, it's not the end of the dish.

Tashreeb is a curry stew but it isn't Indian or Caribbean or Chinese or Malaysian curry. It's Iraqi, and it's milder and thinner than the curries we are used to. Which is why I get annoyed when people ignorant of other cuisine compare new food unfavorably to whatever they are used to eating. My hub thought this was my worst curry dish (and that's bad news because I'm not good at curries) because the curry flavor was so mild. But I liked it because I didn't think of it as our regular curry. Like I said, it's annoying when people compare.

Anyway, since I like it, I will blog about it. Tashreeb is served over torn pieces of flat breads such as naan, which soaks up the sauce. I didn't quite like the canned chick peas (bland and too soft) so next time I cook this, I will use dried chick peas. I served the stew with tabbouleh, a refreshing parsley salad that appeared at every meal I ate in Dubai. To be truthful, the tabbouleh scored better than the tashreeb. Tabbouleh is Lebanese in origin but is eaten all over the Middle East. You must make this salad. It is SO good and super easy to make. The ingredients are simple everyday ingredients that you have in your kitchen so you needn't run out to get them. I used parsley, mint and spring onions from my garden. I couldn't find bulghur and thought of substituting it with couscous or quinoa (which I dislike) but I couldn't find those either and didn't bother to try other supermarkets. I think that along with eating seasonal, we should improvise sometimes, and so I used--I know this'll make the Arabs mad--fine vermicelli pasta, those you find in chicken soup. What to do, I live in Borneo.

I suppose you can add more spices into the stew if you like the curry flavor more intense. Like I said, be open, this isn't curry curry.

Tashreeb Dijaaj
1/4 cup canola oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 small onions (I used red onions), sliced
4-6 medium waxy potatoes, peeled & in large chunks
2 bay leaves
2 T curry powder (or 3 T if like)
1 T tumeric powder
1/2 T salt (to taste)
4 chicken legs
4 chicken thighs
1 19-oz chickpeas*, drained
1 lemon, quartered
1 T sumac (optional)

*or use chick peas but they have to be soaked overnight and cooked

1. Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot and fry the garlic, onions, bay leaves, curry powder, tumeric powder for a minute. Add the chicken and the potatoes, continue frying for about 8-10 minutes over medium heat.

2. Add 3 1/2 cups of water/chicken stock, stir through and let simmer until potatoes and chicken are tender, about 25 minutes.

3. Add the chickpeas and heat through, about 2-3 minutes.

4. Put a couple pieces of torn naan onto a plate and ladle the stew over. Sprinkle some sumac over and serve with the lemon wedges.

Tabbouleh. My sous chef that night had cut everything too thick and I couldn't get hold of bulghur but still, this salad was a hit.

1/4 cup bulghur
2 cups finely sliced flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup finely sliced mint
1 large ripe tomato, diced
1/2 onion, chopped finely or 1/4 cup finely sliced spring onions (I prefer the latter)
1 cucumber, preferably Lebanese, diced
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup EVOO

1. Soak the bulghur in very hot water for 5 minutes (depending on the brand; some are parboiled) and drain well.

2. Mix everything well and serve either at room temperature or cold.


gerrie said...

I just finished that book a few weeks back! Some chapters were so good, I wanted to get a digital copy for the iPad, but stopped myself!

Food looks absolutely delish!!

the lunch guy said...

sous chef, have i missed a few episodes? ROFL. just kidding. i'll be the sous to your exec any day.

food looks good. i understand your comment about comparisons totally. the worst is when people keep talking about the food they grew up on.

my favorite restaurant in BKK is actually an Egyptian place and i order Tabbouleh most of the time. that and hummus and babaganoush. (my spell checker just went nuclear). the holy trinity of ME foods so-to-speak.

the first time i ever heard of Tabbouleh was when i was sous chef (really) to my mentor. he had accepted a last minute invitation to open a food stall at the Volvo Tennis Tourney being held a few towns away. he decided one of the dishes we would serve to these 1,000's of potential customers was Tabbouleh.

you say your sous cut everything too large, well imagine cutting it properly to fill two 35 gallon garbage bins. right, we cut 70 gallons of veg and herb for Tabbouleh. it literally took us all night as it had to be fresh and the stuff cannot sit too long.

the only saving grace was he did the seasoning. i would have never been able to figure out what proportions to use for that much salad, nor did i want the responsibility.

it was served stuffed into pita bread halves. and it sold out in one afternoon.

for days after this i remember waking up in my bed and sensing that my hand had been going through the motions of cutting tomatoes while i slept. i can still feel the cramping in my hand from cutting all night.

it was continually suggested we use a food processor, but that was forbidden as it would have forced the moisture on the tomatoes and parsley and created a barrel of mush.

i must say though that our chef stood by us all night and cut as long as we did. it took 4 of us about 6 hours, and 3 or 4 gallons of wine spritzers, to create these buckets o' Tabbouleh.

BTW: this is the perfect knife to cut tomatoes, or anything else for that matter. they call it a bread knife, i call it a slicer. i have probably had more of these knives "borrowed" from me at work than any other. when i travel i carry one in my luggage just in case i am called upon to prep.

the best all around knife anyone could ever hope for. (if so inclined, and you have a choice, get the one with the wooden handle.)

the lunch guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
malaymui said...

I am droogling as i read :). Need to make this soon as it is quite nice for the cold/snowy weather that we are in now. some food to spice up my life. thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Your Tashreeb looks good. I would prefer them to our Asian curry anytime. I like the way they use spices without making the food overly rich.

I had just finished writing about my version of tabbouleh to be posted up later in the week. As I am now into quinoa, I made mine with it. Totally agree, this is one of the simplest dish, and refreshing too!

sibylla said...

Hi there - if you're making tabbouleh again, may I suggest a substitute for the bulgur if you can't find any in KK. Try using crumbled-up Weetabix, the whole wheat kind if you can find it but if not, the normal Weetabix will be OK.

Personally I don't really like bulgur wheat anyway so I don't think you missed out by not having it (though purists might disagree!)

jinkar said...

I must admit I have been guilty of the comparison thing too which is why I don't like Japanese Curry. It looks good but I won't make it as my hubby's reaction will be the same as your's. I made pork and potato curry and he just couldn't get his head around having pork in curry and said the pork didn't taste good as curry.

Johnathan Oh said...

Hi Terri, here's a lame one...

Most Malaysian wouldn't eat tabbouleh not because of its taste and texture but because... Malaysia Boleh... :p

Cheers sis!

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