I bought another cookbook the other day. Well …three really, but today’s post only requires me to admit to the purchase of one. It is a fabulous book, Modern Flavours of Arabia, by Suzanne Husseini. As always when I buy a new cookbook, I sat up in bed the other night with a cup of coffee and had a good read.
I immediately spotted a couple of recipes that I wanted to try but this one was my absolutely number one. It sounded wonderful. I could hardly wait to try it and, let me assure you, I was not disappointed. It was scrumptious. Maus, the critical one, gave it a very strong thumbs up.
Suzanne does say not to be put off by the number of steps in this dish. I agree entirely. At first, it looks a little daunting but each step is very simple and everything, except the rice, can be done way in advance so it is a perfect dinner party dish.
This is one of the nicest dishes I have made for a very long time. I highly recommend it.
The smell in the house whilst the chicken was cooking was divine.
To quote Suzanne:
“The reward of dipping into the sumptuous layers of crunchy bread, hot rice, lemony chicken and cool yogurt studded with buttery nuts is sublime like nothing else!”
- 2 rounds of Lebanese bread
Split each round of Lebanese bread into two so you have four rounds and then cut into bite-size pieces.
The recipe called for the bread to be fried in some oil and then drained but I baked the bread in a 180°C oven until it was golden and crispy. Set aside.
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup pistachios
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
Toast pine nuts, pistachios and slivered almonds separately in a dry frying pan until lightly golden. Set aside.
- 3 cups full fat yoghurt
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- Sea salt
Mix the crushed garlic, yoghurt and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.
- 10 garlic cloves, crushed
- salt and pepper
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 tbs* oil
- juice of 3 lemons
- Rub the garlic over the chicken, lift the skin and rub the garlic into the flesh.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a pot large enough to take the full chicken.
- Brown the chicken all over.
- Pour in the lemon juice.
- Reduce the heat down to a simmer, cover and leave the chicken to braise until it falls off the bone. I found that it took about 1 hour.
- Shred the chicken. Remove the skin and bones, discard.
- Return the chicken meat to the pot and let it sit in the sauce.
I prepared the chicken to this stage and then gently reheated it when we were ready to eat.
- 3 tbs* clarified butter
- 2 cups rice, rinsed
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 4 cups water
- In a pot, heat the clarified butter and stir in the rinsed rice.
- Add the turmeric and salt. Mix well to coat the rice.
- Pour in the water and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and leave to cook, undisturbed, until the liquid is absorbed – about 12 minutes.
- Leave covered for at least 10 minutes or until ready to serve.
To assemble the Fattet D’jaj:
- Place some of the croutons on each plate.
- Place a layer of rice on the croutons.
- Mound the chicken, with its lemony sauce, on top.
- Drizzle the yoghurt sauce over everything.
- Garnish with the toasted nuts.
- Serve immediately.