I am here posting the inaugural post for my new series - Bonjour ! I started this to be a biweekly series.. but happily, the responses were really overwhelming , so decided to turn it to a weekly series :) YAY !! Good for Me !!
For this weeks post.. Our Guest Blogger is Jehanne from " The Cooking Doctor ". She really is a cooking Doctor. A surgeon by profession, I ought to admit that I have thought "How on Earth does She have time to manage a wonderful blog".. not just any blog people, a truly professional blog. She writes very clearly, Pictures are out the roof, and the dishes are authentic and fancy too.. I am just so in love with her space.. :))
I knew her out of no where.. :) I don't exactly remember where we began to know each other.. but was hooked instantly.. or I vaguely remember, the "Tea Pot" giveaway she had when I discovered her blog.. I badly wanted to win and used to check her space every single day until she published the Winner, which was not me :( We became good friends from there on ..
I have been having this thought of guest post series from long time.. but Jehanne triggered things.. by her willingness and enthusiasm to write.. She was so sweet to take some time out of her busy schedule and do all the write up , I asked her to .. Thanks Darling !!
She came up with so many dishes when we started of things.. but then settled, for her ever loving dish Kabsa.. which is the guest post for today.. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you Jehanne in her own words....
Jehanne's Guest Post
When I first entered the blogging world, which was really recently, I came across Jabeen's corner, a lovely site with a fabulous event of Iftar Nights. That first click and I was hooked on her site until now, not only Jabeen shares the same healthy eating ethos being a dietitian, her effort to congregate foodies all over the world to contribute recipes for Iftaris through her special event really amazed me. That first click was also a beginning of a new friendship for us , albeit a virtual one for the moment.
I was more than honoured to do the first guest post for Jabeen and although we both share the love for agar-agar, I thought Jabeen deserves something special, something exotic that befits her and her lovely blog. As Jabeen is probably more of a specialist on Indian food than me, I thought I would cook something Middle Eastern instead, my signature dish of Chicken Kabsa that has found its way in our ancestral home for all the special occasions, birthdays and family gatherings. What better way to celebrate Eid with Jabeen's readers than the fabulous Chicken Kabsa, the exotic dish that befits the royals. Jabeen has also requested me to do some little snippets about myself, so here goes...
1. A bit about myself, personal and professional.
I have always been passionate about food, having seen my mother cooking and baking professionally. Our house was always filled with aroma of freshly baked breads in the morning, nice cinnamon flavoured teacakes for our chai time and dishes of the world for dinner parties. I grew up with no specific regional cuisine in particular, which makes it very adventurous and I learned more about food and cooking through my passion for travelling. Cooking later became a necessity during my uni days and subsequently after I embarked on my surgical career, cooking becomes my therapy as well as my way of entertaining friends and family after work. I love the science of baking, as it always results in wonderful creations. Though I would not trade in my scalpel just yet, this brief period of maternity leave also gave birth to TheCookingDoctor blog, where I put in my anecdotes from the various fusion cuisines we have at home.
2. My likes and dislikes
I love chocolates, and who doesn't? A great cup of espresso in the morning with some homemade granola and yogurt really kick starts my day, and I could not think of any vehement dislikes, when it comes to food. I am a big fan of anything homemade, from knitting booties for my baby up to conserving fruit jams and preserves in summer, which is now the annual ritual in our family.
3. How did I come across Jabeen's Corner
It was Jabeen's Iftar event that bowled me over, such creative ideas and what a lovely way to congregate altogether for the holy month of Ramadhan. There is no turning back. Jabeen's awesome food keeps me going there for more!
4. My signature dish
Chicken Kabsa has been one of my favourite, fool proof dish that I cook time and time again. Originally a dish of the Gulf, this is one dish that would definitely be on our kitchen table for family gatherings, special occasions or just because. There are many variations of al-Kabsa, but I shall stick to my mom's recipe here for Jabeen's readers as I think this is the best:-)
serves 6-8 people
5 cups basmati rice-soak for 20 minutes
1 large chicken-either leave as whole or cut into about 8 chunky pieces
6 tbsp olive oil
3 medium sized onions-diced
4 shallots-sliced finely
1 can (400g) of chopped tomatoes
2 inch ginger
2 cloves garlic
a pinch of salt
few strands of saffron-soaked in rose water
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp coarse black pepper
a pinch of grated nutmeg
a handful of almonds, pistachios and raisins
1 tbsp ghee
2 shallots-finely sliced
1. In a pan dry roast the spices until fragrant and they change colour slightly. Grind the spices together with ginger and garlic in a food processor with few tablespoon of water. Set aside.
2. Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a casserole. Fry the shallots until fragrant, and add 2 sliced onions and fry until they become golden brown. Add in the ground spices-ginger-garlic mix. Once the spices have fully absorbed the oil, add the chicken pieces (or whole) and chopped tomatoes. Let it fry for few minutes before adding 8 cups of water. Add the saffron, and season with salt. Cover and let it simmer on medium heat for about 40 minutes.
3. Once the chicken sauce is thickened slightly, remove the chicken onto a baking tray and set aside the stock to be used later. Pour 2 tbsp of the sauce on top of the chicken and bake for around 20 minutes or until chicken pieces are well cooked.
4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil in a deep casserole pan and fry the remaining onion slices. Once fragrant add the basmati rice and cook briefly for few minutes. I personally would transfer the rice into a rice cooker at this stage but you could also use the pan throughout. Add the stock into the rice, making sure you take note of the total amount of stock added by cup measurement as the rice is cooked with ratio 2:1, so for 5 cups of rice, you would need 10 cups of liquid. As the thickened tomato-chicken stock is less than 10 cups, make up to the level with tap water. Pour in the juice of 1 lemon and cook the rice until fluffy.
5. Prepare the garnishing. Heat the ghee and fry the shallots until really crispy and golden brown. Set aside. Fry the almonds, pistachios and raisins for few minutes.
If using whole chicken, the roasted chicken can be served on the bed of rice, and garnish with almonds, pistachios, raisins and fried shallots. If using large chicken pieces, mix the chicken with rice and do the top garnishing. Serve warm.