Monday, March 1, 2010

Jordan - Maklooba

Since Jordan is one of the most stable and peaceful countries in the Middle East, it’s a great tourist destination. Petra, for instance, is one of the world’s most unforgettable sights. It’s a city of rock cut architecture, buildings created by carving natural rock.

Jordan is also a place to see Biblical sites such as where Jesus was baptized and where John the Baptist was beheaded. You can explore ancient Roman ruins and Crusader castles. Even today, you’ll see the classic Middle Eastern dessert scene of Bedouins with their flocks of sheep and goats.

But Jordan isn’t just a time warp. The capital city of Amman is modern, Westernized and glitzy and, while touring the country, you can do the typical beachy thing and go to Aqaba to snorkel in the Red Sea.

To me, Jordan sounds like the perfect place to go to experience the Middle East.

For our Jordanian meal we had Maklooba. It’s a popular Middle Eastern rice dish. It can vary from country to country but I’m hoping I got the more traditional Jordanian version. The main ingredients are rice, lamb or chicken, cauliflower and eggplant. The ingredients are layered in a deep pot and then cooked together. When it’s done, the pot is turned upside down on a serving platter.

I could not get it to mold. Despite that, the we all enjoyed the Maklooba.

Jordanian Maklooba

8 chicken thighs
Canola oil
1 tsp fresh nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cumin powder
4 saffron threads
2 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cardamom seeds
3 peppercorns
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head cauliflower, trimmed into florets
1 eggplant, peeled, cubed and salted
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cups rice

1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp all spice
4 saffron threads
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
Salt and Pepper
Toasted pine nuts for garnish

In a pan, brown chicken in oil. Once brown (but does not have to be fully cooked), add nutmeg, all spice, cumin powder, salt, saffron, cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds and peppercorns.

Add enough water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil. Season with ground pepper. Cover and simmer until the meat pulls away from the bone. When done, set the chicken aside. Keep the broth – do not discard.

Fry cauliflower in oil until brown and then drain on paper towels. Repeat process with eggplant. Then set aside.

Heat oil in large pot and add onions and sauté. Then add chicken (bone and all – but I took the meat off the bone).

Rinse rice, then put in bowl and stir in spices into the raw rice.

Add cauliflower and eggplant to chicken, then put seasoned rice on top. Pour the left-over chicken water in the pot to just barely cover the rice. Bring to boil, then simmer and cover. When water is gone and rice is tender, dish is done.

Flip it, upside down, onto a serving plate and garnish with toasted pine nuts.

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