Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Almond Chicken. Khosh amadid.

Speech in Dari is sweeter!
                ~Persian poet Muhammad Iqbal

Not long ago, British journalist Rory Stewart took a journey across the Middle East. Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal—in the earliest years of the 21st century. He walked across a war zone.

He was warned by an Afghan Foreign Ministry officer called Yuzufi: "You will die, I can guarantee. Do you want to die?"

here's Mr. Stewart, fortified by my chicken,
striding out of the blog
Stewart was not deterred. He walked with escorts, with citizens, with children. With a dog named Babur, with only his thoughts. Rifles were leveled at him. He learned to discern a field with mines from a field for grazing sheep. Presents of tea and shampoo and henna were given to him. He has this to say about those he encountered.

"They were not all saints, though some of them were. A number were greedy, idle, stupid, hypocritical, insensitive, mendacious, ignorant, and cruel. Some had robbed or killed; many threatened me and begged from me.

"But never in my 21 months of travel did they attempt to kidnap or kill me. I was alone and a stranger, walking in very remote areas; I represented a culture that many of them hated, and I was carrying enough money to save or at least transform their lives.

"In more than five hundred village houses, I was indulged, fed, nursed, and protected by people poorer, hungrier, sicker, and more vulnerable than me. Almost every group I met--Sunni Kurds, Shia Hazara, Punjabi Christians, Sikhs, Brahmins of Kedarnath, Garhwal Dalits, and Newari Buddhists--gave me hospitality without any thought of reward. I owe my journey and my life to them."

naked chicken, cut up
here's how
naked chicken

Hospitality's the tenor and backbone of my Middle Eastern students—Iranian, Iraqi, Afghan, Tajik. “You will find a friend in my country, I make it the promise to you."

Thank you, Aziz!

I made this dish with that hospitality in mind. It’s simply composed: chicken pieces dipped in butter. These are rolled in finely ground almonds, mixed with ginger and garlic and spices from the ancient Eastern trade routes. Then, baked in a pot. All those flavors and juices, sealed in a golden nutty crust. Serve with Basmati rice and a salad of cucumber and onion, maybe a little mango. Share with a friend.

Khosh amadid. Welcome! it's a new year.

dressed and delicious

Almond Chicken
                                1 cup blanched slivered almonds
                                1 clove garlic, chopped
                                1 thin slice gingerroot, chopped
                                1 teaspoon salt
                                1 teaspoon paprika
                                1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
                                1/4 teaspoon pepper
                                1 3-pound fryer chicken, cut up
                                1/3 cup butter, melted

Place almonds, garlic, and gingerroot in a blender container. Cover and blend until finely ground. Mix almond mixture with remaining spices. Dip chicken into butter and then roll it in the almond mixture. Place it skin side up in an ungreased Dutch oven or a similar cooking pot. Bake, covered, at 375 degrees until the thickest pieces are done, 50 to 60 minutes.

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