For those of you who aren’t aware I’m having a love affair with middle eastern / african food, and wanted to share my recent introduction to a wonderfully flavorful new dish from Jordan I had while enjoying live Belly Dancing, Shisha and microbrews: Ouzi, sometimes referred to as Mansaf. At its core, the dish is just your basic chicken and rice, but with all the flavors, it is truly much more. Enjoy!
• 8 Chicken thighs
• ½ cup low fat, plain yogurt, divided
• 2 tbl Four Spice mixture (equal parts Ginger, Cloves, Nutmeg and Black Pepper)
• 1 cup brown rice
• Pinch of Saffron
• ¼ cup each almonds and pine nuts
• ½ cup shredded carrots
• ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
• 3 cloves garlic, minced and divided
• ½ bunch parsley, chopped and divided
• 2 tbls Lemon Juice, divided
1. Prep the Chicken: Wash and clean thighs; marinate 12 - 24 hours in a combination of ½ yogurt, ½ garlic, salt and pepper
2. Toast and chop almonds and pine nuts: prep a medium skillet over medium heat, add almonds and pine nuts, watching carefully. As soon as they start to brown, remove pan from heat, cool and store up to 3 days.
3. Make the Dressing: Mix 1/4 cup yogurt, minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and parsley well, and store up to 3 days.
1. Preheat oven to 375 F
2. Prepare brown rice as directed, using low sodium chicken or veggie stock for extra flavor.
3. Preheat a medium skillet with 2 tbls of olive oil, wipe excess yogurt and garlic from chicken thighs. Dust skin side with four spice mixture.
4. Put thighs skin side down in skillet until crispy, turn over, dust with spice mixture and repeat. Remove excess fat and place in oven while remainder of dish is prepared.
5. Mince onion and garlic, sauté until translucent in butter. Add rice, 1/4 cup of stock, saffron, and remaining lemon juice, mix well, simmer for 2 - 3 min. Add in carrots and peas, mix well, remove from pan and let cool 2 - 3 min. Add in toasted nuts and remaining parsley.
6. Serve on a platter with chicken on the bed of rice and drizzle with yogurt dressing.
Alternatives: traditionally, ground lamb is added into the rice mixture; remove chicken skin for lower fat alternative; use ½ water, ½ stock for lower sodium; add feta to the rice for some extra tang and creaminess