This is a wonderful traditional Lebanese chicken and rice dish with crisp onion, fried nuts, vermicelli noodles and a tahini dressing.
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 200 g chicken mince
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
- 1 tbsp sabah baharat
- sea salt, to season
- 80 g vermicelli egg noodles, broken
- 500 g smoked basmati rice, washed until the water runs clear
- ½ bunch parsley, picked and washed
- squeeze of lemon juice
- ½ bunch coriander, picked and washed
- 1 whole chicken (about 1 kg)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- 5 sprigs thyme
- pinch sea salt
- 300 ml canola oil
- 2 small cocktail onions, thinly sliced on the mandolin
- 200 ml yoghurt
- 2 tbsp tahini
- ½ lemon, juice
- generous pinch salt
- 100 g unsalted butter
- 30 g pine nuts, toasted
- 30 g whole blanched almonds, toasted
- 30 g cashews, toasted
- 1 tsp red Aleppo pepper
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- For the poached chicken, place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow to sit for another 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan, reserve the stock and set the chicken aside until cool enough to handle. Pick all the meat off the chicken and place in a bowl with a ladle of the chicken stock and set aside.
- Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon of oil, the onion and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook until the onion is soft. Add the chicken mince and using a whisk, smash the meat to break it up. Add the cumin seeds, baharat and a pinch of salt and cook until the mince has browned. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and allow it to get very hot. Add the noodles and toast them by continuously tossing them until very dark but not burnt. Immediately return the mince to the pan along with the rice and stir until well combined. Add 600 ml of reserved chicken stock, (it should be enough to cover the rice by 2 cm, but you may need to add a bit more to cover depending on the size of the pot). Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow it to rest for another 10 minutes. Once rested, use a fork to fluff and mix the rice and add some chopped parsley, salt and lemon juice.
- For the fried onions, place the cold oil and sliced onions in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the oil is bubbling and the onions are golden (don’t let the temperature go over 180°C). Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towel and season with salt.
- For the tahini yoghurt, place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Add about 100 ml water and whisk until the sauce has a thick, pourable consistency, adding more water if necessary.
- For the fried nuts, just before serving, place a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and cook until foaming. Add the nuts, Aleppo pepper and a good pinch of salt and stir continuously until the butter is golden. Remove from the heat.
- Place the rice on a large serving plate. Top with the poached chicken, tahini yoghurt, toasted nuts and burnt butter, parsley, coriander and fried onions.
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