Dajaj, meaning ‘chicken’ in Arabic, and machbous, denoting spiced rice, is a popular Middle Eastern dish. It is similar to the Indian dish biryani in that the rice is cooked in the same pan along with the rest of the ingredients.
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) vegetable oil
- 1 x 1.7 kg chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Indian curry powder
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 4 cardamom pods
- 4 cloves
- 5 black peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon quill
- ¼ tbsp crushed Persian dried lime (see Note), or 4 strips lemon rind
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 700 ml chicken stock
- 450 g (2½ cups) basmati rice, rinsed, drained
- coriander sprigs, to serve
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.
Standing time 10 minutes
Heat oil in a large casserole pan with a lid over medium-high heat. Season chicken. Working in batches, cook chicken, turning once, for 8 minutes or until browned. Remove and set aside. Add onion to pan and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft and light golden. Add spices, lemon and garlic and stir to coat. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium, return chicken to pan with stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
Stir in rice and bring back to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until rice is al dente and liquid has absorbed. Remove from heat, keep covered and set aside for 10 minutes. Top with coriander sprigs to serve.
• Persian dried limes are from Middle Eastern food shops and specialty spice shops.
Photography Chris Chen. Styling Vivien Walsh. Food preparation Phoebe Wood.
As seen in Feast magazine, September 2014, Issue 35.