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.
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.