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Dishy Arabian nights

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Scheherazade's dinner
Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri! Happy Eid to my Muslim friends! I know these good wishes come a couple of days late but would you want to read a blog post when you're celebrating? I didn't think so.

But in contrast with my tardiness with my greetings, I'm early with this posting. It's supposed to come out tomorrow since it's an extension of my review of the recipe book Everything Rice & Nice (2010, Marshall-Cavendish) by Chef Zam (for the link to the published newspaper page, will be up tomorrow click here). For the review, I tested his recipes for Egg Rice Terengganu-style (it has beef meat and liver, and the eggs are cooked in a particular way) and Lor Mai Kai (glutinous rice with chicken and mushrooms).

For the extra recipe, I decided to feature Chef Zam's Spiced Arabian Rice. Why? Because it's a nice recipe to have. Okay, the truth is I already had a picture and it would save me the trouble of cooking the dish! I know, lazy bum...

Well, when I saw the picture of the Arabian rice in the book, I thought it looked like the barberry rice which I cooked for Don't Call Me Chef in October 2009 ("1,001 bites"; I prepared sumac chicken to go with the rice). My recipe is quite different, and perhaps you would like to compare.

From Everything Rice & Nice by Chef Zam
Serves 4-6

8 chicken drumsticks, skinned and cleaned
5 shallots, peeled and pounded
3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely pounded
2.5cm knob ginger, peeled and coarsely pounded
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
3 cardamom pods
3 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks, 5cm lengths each
½ tablespoon black peppercorns
1 chicken stock cube
2 tablespoons kurma powder
1.25 litres water
Salt and sugar to taste
2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
½ onion, peeled and sliced
125ml tomato purée/sauce
600g basmati rice, soaked for 20 minutes and drained
1 sprig mint
1 tablespoon barberries
  • In a pot, combine chicken, shallots, garlic, ginger, fennel, cumin, cardamom pods, star anise, cinnamon, black peppercorns, chicken stock cube, kurma powder, water, salt and sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from the broth.
  • Strain spices and pounded ingredients from the broth and blend until fine with 250ml of the broth. Set aside.
  • Heat ghee in a wok and add sliced onion. Sauté onion until soft. Add blended ingredients and sauté for a few minutes.
  • Add 750ml of broth, tomato purée/sauce, salt and sugar to taste. Bring to the boil and set aside.
  • Put basmati rice into a rice pot/cooker and top with a layer of chicken. Continue alternating layers of rice and chicken until all the ingredients are used up.
  • Pour broth mixture into the pot and cook rice, covered, until done.
  • Garnish with mint leaves and barberries before serving. Add crisp-fried shallots if desired.

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