Machboos

I’ve recovered from my first surgery, so it is time to move on to the next steps of my treatment plan.  The results from my pathology report have determined what will be next for me. The results are scary, but I am reassured that my choice to have a double mastectomy was the right one.  My left breast is where I found my lump and that tumor is measured at > 2.1 CM.  The measurement is not exact, because the main mass is surrounded by smaller deposits of tumor cells. So the left breast is described as being “extensively involved by carcinoma in the left half.  The surgical margins are narrowly free of carcinoma”, which means that I will need to do radiation.  They also found a tumor in the right breast which is only 2 mm.  The surgical margins are clear, so I won’t have to do radiation on the right side.  There was a removal of 7 lymph nodes 6 on the left and 1 on the right side, the one on the right came back negative and 6 on the left that all came back as positive, which means I will have to do chemo.  During this time my cancer stage is still undermined.

My breast surgeon gave me a list of various medical and radiation oncologists.  Based on my pathology she thinks the treatment plan is going to be chemo followed by radiation, so she suggested that I choose my medical oncologist first.  There about five medical oncologists on the list.  I have no idea, which will be better than the other, so I go in the logical order.  Call the first person on the list.  I never got a response, so I move on to the second person on the list and was easily able to make an appointment.

The morning of my appointment I am completely nervous.  My two friends Amanda and Jeff arrive at my house and we walk to the appointment.  I feel my tension, but it stays at a minimum as we tell jokes and giggle with each other.  At the office they take my weight, temperature, and blood pressure then wait for the doctor in an exam room.  The oncologist comes into the room and greets all of us and invites us back to his office.

He goes through the pathology report with us again, concentrating on the 6 lymph nodes that are positive.  This, he explains is a significant number to have positive.  “We typically see only one or two lymph nodes that are infected but you had six.  Six were removed and all six came back positive.  Based on this you are at least stage III.  We will need to determine if it has metastasized, or spread through other regions of your body.  The most common places for breast cancer to spread is in your lungs, bones, and liver.  We will have you take a PET scan to see if it has gone to any of these areas.  If it has, then you will be stage IV. ”  Each point he delivered with an awkward smile.

The oncologist continued to explain, “We don’t know what stage you will be, so let’s go over the treatment plan as if you had stage III.  I will recommend that you do chemo.  If you don’t do chemo the chance of reoccurrence will be about a 50% and if you do chemo the chance is closer to 10%.”

Amanda interrupted, “Okay, well that sounds like pretty good odds.” She stares at me.  To me this sounded like awful odds.  I just nod a bit too numb to say or ask anything.

The oncologist continues, “I am going to recommend that you do 5 months of chemo. There is a 3 month option, but it is a bit newer and with the extensiveness and how young you are I would recommend the 5 month.”  He writes the two drugs on a note pad and I don’t hear it all as I’m wrapping my head around 5 months of chemo.

As my mind comes back into the room, I ask, “What are the side effects?”

He answers, “You will have hair loss.  You will lose your hair, eyelashes, eyebrows.”

A lump in my throat forms and tears start to well up in my eyes.  I am totally taken aback. Since I was told the pathology results I had known I will do chemo.  I have come to terms with the fact that I was going to lose my long hair, but it never dawned on me that all the other hair on my body would be effected.  I love my eyebrows and the news that I will look like an alien just shocks me!

Amanda asked, “I had a friend and she did some treatment with chemo and didn’t loose her hair.  Is that an option?”

The oncologist hesitates and with an awkward smiles and answers, “I would not recommend it in her case. ” He looks at me, “There is a treatment where you can freeze your hair.  You bring ice packs and you put them on your head every 30 minutes.  You will have either 12 – 16 treatments and they are fairly lengthy.  So you will need a friend with you, a cooler, and multiple packs.  It will end up being a burden and there is no guarantee it will work.”

He continues on with the other side effects, “Nausea. We will give you medicine to help you combat the nausea.  You’ll likely experience fatigue and your menstrual cycle will likely stop.  He asks do you want kids?”

I respond, “No.”

He asks, “Do want kids in the future?”

I respond, “No. How about tastes?”

“On some of the treatments taste buds can be effected. This is different for everyone.”

Jeff asks, “How about drinking. She likes to drink.”

He says “Yes you can drink. I have one patient who is younger and she likes her wine.  We monitor your blood levels and saw that her liver numbers were going high and we went to the board as it is not normal for the chemo to be doing this.  I chatted with her and found she was taking tylenol after drinking.”

“Ohhh”,  Jeff, Amanda, and I all said in harmony.  Tylenol and alcohol don’t mix, we are not amateurs here!

He says, “Yes, so we will watch you every week and if we see an issue we will let you know. You will have blood drawn at each appointment and we have a blood lab here to do the measurements.  Your body may not like drinking any more as well.  It will let you know.” After a pause and no more questions from us.  “Okay, after chemo you will have radiation. We will then recommend that you go on a hormone therapy that will stop the estrogen in your body.  This is a daily pill that you will take for 10 years.”

I asked, “Why?  I thought it was 5 years.”

He answered, “Studies have shown that 5 is okay in people that are older.  You are very young and to keep the chances of this growing, I’d recommend 10 years.”

Jeff asked, “What is her survival rate?”

He responds, “It’s really scary you don’t want to know.” He gives an awkward smile and responds, “Well there are tools and things I can plug in and give you a number, but it doesn’t really matter as this is about what happens to you.  Those are based on a larger population.  I don’t recommend we look at it.”

Jeff starts to tear up.  I look at the doctor and say, “He cries for me so I don’t have to.”

Jeff says, “Stop making fun of me!”

“Someone has to.” I explain. We all laugh and the tension in the room is released a bit.

He starts to wrap up our appointment, “so the next step is to get you a PET scan booked.  If you have stage 4, none of this treatment will matter.”

I ask, “What will the treatment be?”

“It depends on where it has spread and what has happened.  There are too many possibilities to look at now.” He responds with an awkward smile. “Let’s first see what the results are and take it from there.”

This seems prudent.  So we say our goodbyes.  He walks us to the receptionist and I make an appointment.  I am thankful for my friends being there Amanda is organized and, well, Jeff cries for me.  We all go to lunch to process the information together.  Our conclusion is that we like this guy.  He smiles awkwardly at bad news, but I find it strangely endearing.   I see no reason to shop for another oncologist.  He won me over with his quirky smile, intelligence, and how he handled our questions.  He was honest and straight forward; I left feeling like I can trust him, which is great progress.  However, I can’t help feeling sad and depressed.  The reality of how long the process is going to be and how much of myself and lifestyle will be affected.  It is a shock and so instead of facing it, I am going to make some yummy food while everything still works.

In Bahrain there is a common dish mixed of meat, rice, vegetables, and spices.

It is an Arabic dish in the Persian Gulf it is called machboos, where in other areas of the Middle East it is called kbasa.  The version I am making is a chicken and rice that is claimed to be traditional in Bahrain.  It sounds yummy.  Comforting, and perfectly distracting.

The recipe calls for black dried lime… I have no idea where to find that!  I look up and find that it is indeed black dried lime.  You can get it as a lime, or ground into a spice.  I go to a Middle Eastern store and don’t see any.  A bit more research and the spice is named limoo. I have a spice store near by and talk to them about it and they introduce me to a Persian lime spice or lemon omani, which is ground black lime.  When I was a kid I used to eat dried lemon peel and the seasoning reminds me of that smell.  It has a tangy citrus quality.

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The recipe calls for a seasoning mix called baharat.  This is a spice mix that is used in various Middle Eastern cooking.  There is a version called Gulf baharat or kebsa.  This is of course a spice mixture more commonly used in the Persian Gulf region.  As I am cooking Bharian food I use this version of the spice mixture.

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Then season the chicken with the baharat, turmeric, cumin, and cardamom.

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Cook the onions with the lemon omani.

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Then add the chicken to the pan and add the remaining ingredients.  The chicken cooks for an hour.  After I remove the chicken and broil while the rice cooks in the stock.  I serve the chicken over the rice.

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I thought the chicken was overcooked and a bit dry.  I probably should have used a thermometer or cooked just the dark meat.  However the rice is flavorful and delicious.  It is reminiscent of chicken and rice my mom makes, but with much more flavor and complexity.  It is a perfect comfy distraction to an information heavy day.

 


Recipes

 

Gulf Baharat

 

Machboos

Original Recipe can be found here

  • 4 1cups water
  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 chicken, cut in half
  • 3onions, finely chopped
  • 1cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground lemon omani (dried black lime)
  • 2 teaspoons baharat spice mix
  • 1 12teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch ginger, grated
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  1. Cut the chicken in half.  Heat the water and leave aside.  In a small bowl, mix the baharat, turmeric, cumin, and cardamom together and add to the mixture one teaspoon of salt.  Sprinkle half of the spice mixture on the chicken halves.
  2. Heat oil in a large cooking pan, fry the onions until golden brown, then add to the pepper and the black limes.
  3. Add the chicken to the onion mixture and turn it over a few times in the pan. Sprinkle on the chicken a teaspoon of cinnamon and the rest of the mixed spices. Turn the contents all together so the chicken is coated with the spices, cover the pan and let it cook on medium heat for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, chopped ginger, and tomato cubes to the pan and turn the ingredients in the pan a few times.  Cover again for 3 minutes on medium heat.  Sprinkle with the rest of the salt and pour water on while its still hot.
  5. Cover the pan and let it cook for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is cooked.  Add the chopped cilantro 5 minutes before you remove the chicken from the stock in the pan. While the chicken is cooking, wash the rice well and soak for 10 minutes in cold water, then drain.
  6. Remove the chicken from the pan and put on an oven tray, brush with some oil and sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon powder and grill in the oven until the chicken is golden brown.
  7. Add the rice to the chicken stock, stir, then let it cook on low heat until the rice absorbs the stock and is almost done.
  8. Sprinkle with lemon juice over the rice and place the butter pieces on the top.  Cover the pan and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
  9. Serve the rice on a large serving plate and place the grilled chicken halves on the top.
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Huli Huli Chicken

When I grew up, schools would often sell Huli Huli Chicken at fundraisers.  Huli in Hawaiian means turn.  The way that you cook this chicken is to baste it with a sauce and then turn.  You turn it every 5 minutes while cooking, so it is called Huli Huli chicken.

The first thing you do is make the Huli Huli sauce.  I like to marinate my chicken in the sauce.

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Traditionally, you are supposed to bbq the chicken.  However, I don’t have a bbq, so I broiled it in my oven. Every 5 minutes I basted with the Huli Huli sauce and turned it over to baste the top.

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Then cook until the chicken seems done.

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It is sweet and tangy from the sauce.  It reminds me of home and a warm hug.  After a week of doctors appointments, I realize that I miss Shane.  I realize it is totally silly and superstitious to think that if I date him the rest of my life will fall apart.  It already is falling apart or at least I’m feeling very mortal and life is short.  So I apologize to Shane.  I tell him that I am stressed and probably taking things out on him and am really sorry. Lucky for me he forgives me and we agree to meet soon.  I’m a happy girl!

Another simple dish that reminds me of Hawaii is Namasu.  Which is a Japanase dish of pickled cucumbers.  I grew up eating the dish and love it.

First step is to sweat the cucumbers for 30 minutes.

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Then make the pickling sauce which is rice vinegar, ginger, and garlic. Add the sliced cucumber and pickle at least over night. It tastes like what it sounds like, pickled cucumber.

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Recipes

Huli Huli chicken
  • 4 lbs chicken legs
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Sherry
  • 1 piece of ginger root
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, crushed.
  1. Combine ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry, ginger, and garlic.
  2. Marinate chicken for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Place on bbq or broil pan
  4. Every 5 minutes turn the chicken over and baste. Typically cooks for 20 minutes.

Namasu
  • 1 Japanese Cucumber
  • 1/4 cup Rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Minced Ginger
  1. Slice cucumbers.  Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Rinse, drain, and squeeze out extra water.
  3. combine ingredients and chill overnight.

Boob Job Chicken

My breast surgeon recommended that I go see a plastic surgeon to understand what my options are for a boob job.  I have always had tiny boobs and have thought about getting a boob job but never really executed on it.  Bigger boobs was appealing but the thought of how much it will cost, surgery, and all the possible complications, I just never went for it.  However in my current circumstances I have to get surgery, my insurance will cover the bill, so why not at least understand more about it.  So I go to the consultation with a few of my friends.

I meet with the breast surgeon, who does a quick exam and then goes over 3 different options.  Lumpectomy, which is just the removal of my lump.  He explained that because my boobs are small the surgery will be noticeable and that he won’t be able to successfully reconstruct it.  I’m still young and dating, so I don’t think this is really an option if I’m going to have a misshaped boob.

The other option is a double mastectomy.  This would be his best option for symmetry. However it is a major surgery and will be an overnight in the hospital.  To do breast augmentation (boob job!), he will need to place explanders in my boobs before he does the implants.  Then I will visit him weekly to get an injecton of saline, which is a needle that goes through my boob and into the expanders.  This is to stretch the skin and later he will do a second surgery of putting in the real implant.

The next option is to do a single mastectomy.  This isn’t an option that the breast surgeon went over, but it would be only my left boob would be removed while my right will be untouched.   One of the side effects of a mastectomy is you loose nipple sensation, which if I did this my right boob would still work.  He could do reconstruction and augmentation.  There will be a difference in the two boobs because he won’t be able to get perfect symmetry.  So he shows me some pictures and shows where the flaws are.  I wouldn’t have noticed the flaws if he hadn’t pointed it out.  However I’m not excited about the idea of having a new flaw even if I am likely the only person that would notice.

There was a lot of information and at the end I felt like I was hit by a truck.  This is all a big deal, I am forever going to be changed.  I try and make the boob job a silver lining, but I really would prefer to keep my itty bitty titties.  I want to crawl into a ball and cry.  I don’t.  Crying in public is not my style, so just listen to my friends chat about the process as the reality of all of this washes over me.  I breathe and look for the positive in all this.  I will be getting a boob job, I will not be getting a lumpectomy, and trust this doctor that any flaws I have will be something only he and I will notice.  As I talk to my friends about it I get more and more comfortable with this and the fear dissipates.  This feels much better than if I had let myself cry, I am joking and actually getting excited to get a BOOB JOB!!!

So why not make some good old boob job chicken.  Okay, there is no such thing, but I hate my transitions from cancer to food and the title made me smile.  I’m actually making chicken long rice, which I will now affectionally think of as boob job chicken. Chicken long rice is a dish that I love. I t is based on a Chinese dish, but is commonly served during a traditional Hawaiian luau.  It is not actually made out of rice but from a bean curd noodle, which I have always known as cellophane noodles.

The first thing I do is braise the chicken in a sesame sauce.

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While the chicken is cooking soak the bean threads.

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The chicken is done and is ready to fall off the bone.

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I shred the chicken and discard the bones and add the meat back to the sauce so it doesn’t dry out.  Cook the noodles in broth adding garlic and ginger.  Then add the chicken with the sesame sauce and green onions.  Toss together and it is ready.

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Recipes

Chicken Long Rice (Boob Job Chicken)
  • 2 tablespoon sesame oil, divided
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
  • 1/4 cup + 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 5 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger, divided
  • 5  garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • dash pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6-8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 2-4 chopped green onions
  • 10 oz long rice (cellophane noodles)
  • 8 oz chicken broth
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2.  Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden.
  3. Combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, brown sugar, orange juice,  hoisin sauce, 1 tablespoon minced ginger, and 2 garlic cloves minced; pour over chicken.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours or until chicken is tender.
  5. Shred chicken and return to the broth.
  6. Cover and soak long rice in cold water for 30 minutes.  Cut into eight lengths.
  7. Place wok over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon sesame oil.
  8. Add mushrooms, green onions, long rice, chicken broth, chicken, and remainder of ingredients.  Simmer until hot, stirring often – about 3 minutes.

 

Paprikahendl

Hendl is roasted chicken in German.  So paprikahendl is paprika chicken.  The dish is famous and even mentioned in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  I like a great novel, it sucks me in and gives me the  breaks from reality that I need.  I’m fairly nervous about my biopsy so any break from reality right now sounds good!  I did get a mini break to Hawaii.  I went with a few friends and saw a few old friends.  I had great food and maybe too much wine.  But lots of laughter and I felt alive! It was a nice break.

Now, back to chicken.  Paprikahendl is commonly served in Austria.  I want to make this dish, because it is often served with spatzel (which I am also making, but writing about separately).

First step is to fry the chicken.

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Create a paprika sauce. To begin this typical sauce, first fry the onions, toast some of the seasoning, add tomato, wine, and stock. Then add the chicken back in to cook.

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Yup it does look like something that a vampire would enjoy.  I then add creme fraiche and roasted tomatoes to the sauce and cook some more.  Then puree the sauce and add chicken and sauce back to the pan.  Top with some red pepper and creme fraiche.

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The result is delicious!  It is rich and creamy and of course tastes like paprika.  It is a great winter meal.


 

Recipes

Paprikahendl

Original Recipe can be found here

  • 4 chicken legs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 4 cups onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 red bell peppers, both roasted, peeled, cored, seeded, and 1 cut into 1 inch by 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche

 

  1. Heat oven to 400º.
  2. Place bell peppers in oven on a cookie sheet and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Turn peppers over and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Let cool for 5 minutes then put in a ziplock bag and let sit for a another 5 minutes.
  5. Peel the skin off the peppers. Throw away the core and seeds and cut into 1 by 1/4 inch strips and set aside.
  6. Season each chicken piece with with  1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and 1 tablespoon of paprika.  Lightly coat with flour.
  7. In a braising pan, heat peanut oil.  Sear chicken pieces until brown on all sides.  Remove the chicken from the pan and place in a tray.
  8. Add onions to the pan and saute for 5 minutes until golden brown.
  9. Add the garlic and cumin seeds.  Cook 1 more minute.
  10. Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, and remaining 2 tablespoons of paprika.  Stir until well blended.
  11. Add the marjoram, thyme and bay leaf.
  12. Add the vinegar and wine.  Add chicken stock, stir deglazing anything stuck to the pan.
  13.  Season with remaining salt and pepper.
  14. Bring to a boil and add the reserved chicken pieces and cover with a piece of vented parchment paper.  Simmer for 20 minutes.
  15. Add cream and continue to simmer another 10 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
  16. Transfer chicken to a saute pan. Pour sauce and 1 roasted pepper in a blender.  Process to a puree.
  17. Pour sauce over chicken.  Reheat until warm.  Garnish with pepper strips and creme fraiche.

 

 

Green Curry Chicken Pot Pie

Yes, this is an Australian dish.  Apparently, Australians love Thai food and in particular green curry.  They also love their meat pies and so someone in Australia decided to combine these two and now it is a national treasure.  I also read on a bunch of sites that this is something you have to try once in your life.  I’m only a mere mortal, and with time ticking I’m going to have to try this dish!

I had my OB/GYN appointment, who confirmed that I do indeed have a lump.  I found the process ironic.  I hadn’t used my health insurance from my new job yet and found out my co-payment for the appointment is $80.  The appointment wasn’t even 30 minutes!!!  I basically paid someone 80 bucks to feel up my breasts and give me information I already knew.  The useful thing is I got the mammogram test approved and scheduled.   Well, feeling taken advantage of, I want a distraction.  So  I have to try this green curry pot pie that is all the rave!

First step is to make a curry paste.

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Then make a curry sauce.

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Then cook the chicken and the zucchini in the curry sauce.

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Top with a few layers of phyllo dough.

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Bake.

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I find the curry bland and the phyllo just dissolves with the water.  This dish would not be on my must eat list before I die.  To improve it, I would suggest marinating the chicken in the paste for 30 minutes.  Thicken the sauce with corn starch and use puff pastry rather than phyllo dough.

Well this is it with Australia. I can’t say that it has been a culinary adventure, but my life sure has changed.  I did like making the snags and the sausage rolls.  Next country to cook is Austria!


 

Recipes

Green Curry Chicken Pot Pie

Original recipe can be found here

  • 1 cup chopped lemongrass (from 4 stalks)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped garlic (about 16 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions (about 4)
  • 6 serrano chiles, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoon finely grated lime zest, plus 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 4 limes)
  • 2 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 4 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, toasted and ground
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
  • 1 cup spinach, rinsed well and dried
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, preferably Thai Kitchen (thaikitchen.com)
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 1 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, for brushing
  1. Make the curry paste:  puree lemongrass, cilantro, garlic, scallions, chiles, ginger, lime zest and juice, coriander, cumin, peppercorns, and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor until smooth.

  2. Marinate chicken in 1/2 of the curry paste for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Make the curry sauce:  puree spinach, coconut milk, with remaining curry paste in blender until smooth.

  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Make the filling:  bring curry sauce to a simmer in a medium straight-sided skillet.  Whisk in flour, and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes.  Add chicken and pepper and cook for 15 minutes.  Add zucchini, and cook until slightly tender, about 5 minute.

  5. Make the topping:  transfer filling to a 9-by-12-inch (8-cup) baking dish.  Top with puff pastry dough.  Brush dough with melted butter.  Sprinkle top with salt.  Bake until phyllo is golden and filling is bubbling, about 25 minutes.

Cafréal de Poulet

Cafreal de Poulet or Chicken Cafreal is widely consumed in the Indian state of Goa. However the dish was introduced to Goa by Portuguese missionaries who got the dish from Portugese African colonies. As Angola is an African colony the dish is common there as well.

There is a spice for the dish called grains of paradise. I’ve never heard of it. It is a peppery spice with a slight floral taste. I find it easily at the Spice Ace near my house.
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To make the marinade I blend the ingredients in the food processor.

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As the marinade is like a paste, I marinate the chicken two ways. One as a rub and the other in a bag like a marinade.

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I marinate for 24 hours. and the one in the bag comes out with a much stronger flavor. It is spicy with a strong coriander and garlic flavor. I added freshly squeezed lime on top and the flavors really came alive.  It does seem to fit in with Indian style food.  I also make a fennel and lemon salad to accompany the meal with left over Arroz Verde. The lemon salad is basic and but refreshing and delicious. It helps counter the heat from the chicken.

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Recipes

Cafréal de Poule

Original recipe can be found here

  •  4 chicken thighs bone in, skin removed.
  •  3 cm piece of ginger, grated
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
  • 2 cups cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 10 grains of paradise
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 green chili peppers
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Place the dry spices in a pestle and mortar and grind to a powder.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, cilantro, water, zest of one lime, juice of one lime and chili peppers to food processor and chop until a paste.
  3. Mix ground spices with cilantro paste.
  4.  Make gashes in the chicken pieces and rub with salt.
  5. Put chicken and marinade in ziplock bag and marinate overnight.
  6. Broil chicken at 375 for 30 minutes or until done.
  7. Serve with a lime wedge.

Lemon salad

Original recipe can be found here

  • 2 lemons’ juice
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, 2 tbsp water and a pinch of salt.
  2. Meanwhile trim the fennel and slice thinly.
  3. Mix together the fennel and dressing in a bowl, sprinkle with the parmesan and serve.

 

Djej bil Besla

There is a typical algerian dish called Djej bil Qasbour which is chicken with saffron and olives. In looking at various creations I found a dish called Djej bil Besla, which says it is a recipe from a restaurant in Algiers. It is chicken with onions, but it looks to be the same as Djej bi Qasbour with a few more onions so I want to make this.

The traditional grain that is served in Algeria is couscous. I’ve always had couscous from the box, however they consider this to be bad like what I think of Uncle Bens rice.  I am going to try and make couscous and see if I can tell a difference. I’m not going to totally make it from scratch; I just need to find the raw grain.

Algerians prefer to have small grain couscous. At my local grocery store they only have pearl couscous, all the smaller grain is partly cooked. I walk to another grocery store a few blocks away and same story. I walk a bit further to another grocery store and nothing there. I search on yelp for a middle eastern grocery store and it lists one 20 miles from me. Having just gotten back from a road trip I don’t feel like driving that far. However, there is a whole foods that is a 5 minute drive from me and I know they have that huge grain section. Sadly, while they have every grain known to man, the only couscous is the large pearl. At this point I think I should have made it from scratch, however I am hungry and tired now. So, I give up and just get the pearl couscous.

The couscous first needs to be wet with “slightly salted water”. I dissolve a 1/4 teaspoon of water and pour it on the couscous. You are to work it through so that the couscous doesn’t clump. With the larger grain there isn’t much of an issue. Then it dries for an hour. When I come back, the couscous is hardened together and in a giant clump. With the olive oil I rub the couscous thought my hands and separate it so all grains are separate. Set it aside and start on the chicken. IMG_0518 The chicken needs to be marinated for 4 hours, crap I didn’t read the recipe. I just read the ingredient list assuming that the cooking was the same as  Djej bil Qasbour, which didn’t require a marinade. Having gone through 4 grocery stores and doing the couscous first, it won’t be until 10pm to start dinner. I read that couscous needs another 1 hour and 1/2 to cook. So I marinate the chicken for an hour. After an hour I steam the couscous for 40 minutes. Then cool the couscous.  add cinnamon and run my hands through it again to remove clumps. This allows the chicken to marinate for a total of 2 hours, hopefully it is enough. IMG_0529My stomach is growling with all the smell of cinnamon from the couscous and the blend of spices on the chicken.  I let the chicken cook for 40 minutes until it is easily falling off the bone. IMG_0534 The couscous is ready, but instead of melting butter, I cut up the butter and pour the couscous over it. Wait for it to melt and rub my hands through the couscous. There are a lot of steps to this and with all the work with your hands I feel very connected to my couscous. It strangely feels like a meditation. I would totally do this again as long as I have the time. The chicken is ready and my mouth is watering. It is almost 10pm and I’m glad I didn’t marinate the whole time. To serve the dish: scoop some couscous in the bottom of the bowl. Top with a piece of chicken. Then scoop 2 ladles full of sauce in the bowl.

 

IMG_0541 IMG_0538 IMG_0544

Taste is amazing! The chicken is tangy from the lemon and the salt of the olives goes with the sauce. The couscous on  its own is a bit hard, maybe the pearl needs more time or is cooked differently, you can definitely taste the cinnamon. However when you pour the broth on the couscous it soaks it up and becomes the perfect tenderness. The pairing of the two dishes is amazing. The cinnamon tastes as if it is part of the complex chicken stew. Amazing!


Recipes

Couscous

Original can be found here

  • 2 cups raw (NOT par-cooked!), fine-grained couscous
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the water.
  2. Spread the couscous in a big pan or dish, and begin sprinkling the salted water over the grains, a little at a time. Using your fingertips, work the grains together to distribute the moisture while simultaneously breaking up any clumps. All the grains should be damp, but not wet.
  3. Spread couscous out in pan and allow to dry for 2 hours.
  4. Once dry,  Moisten with a 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. With your hands mix the olive oil and couscous until all grains are lightly coated glistening, and no clumps.
  5. Lay a double-layer of cheesecloth inside a steamer pan  and set aside.
  6. Bring water to a boil and steam couscous, uncovered  for about 45 minutes.
  7. With the cheesecloth, remove from colander and spread out in the large pan.
  8. Once cool enough to touch, rub grains together between your hands to break up any clumps.
  9. Sprinkle with cinnamon, mix well and return to the cheesecloth-lined colander. Steam for 45 more minutes, or until pleasantly tender.
  10. Cut butter and scatter in a pan.
  11. Pour hot couscous over butter, rub with hands again to break up clumps.

Djej bil Besla

Original can be found here

  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed
  • teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 skinless chicken thighs (bone-in)
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron thread, crushed
  • medium yellow onions, cut into 12 wedges each
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced crosswise seeds removed
  • 1 1/4 cups green olives, pitted sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  1. Mash salt and garlic together on a cutting board into a smooth paste.
  2. Stir in cumin, paprika, and turmeric.
  3. Stir in 1 1/2 tbsp oil and then add chicken thighs. Toss until evenly coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
  4. Heat remaining oil in an 8 qt Dutch oven or large tagine over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  5. Add saffron and onions to pot. Season with pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft (about 15 minutes).
  6. Return chicken to pot along with lemon slices and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, covered, until chicken is cooked through (about 40 minutes).
  7. Remove from heat. Remove chicken from the pan and plate the chicken topped with Lemon slices and scatter olives and cilantro over chicken.
  8. Scoop some couscous in a bowl. Place chicken over couscous and pour two ladles of the broth into the bowl