Wednesday 16 February 2011

Some Indian influenced Jewels

I have two quite special recipes this week, as they are ones I have been perfecting over a few months and I think they are both fairly unique.  The first is Roast Chicken which is first smothered with lime pickle.  The chicken and lime works really well together and with the Indian spices it is amazingly delicious.  You can make the lime pickle yourself or else buy some but make sure it is a good quality one.  The Indian spices are also fantastic with the accompanying roast vegetables.  I think it is just such a great use of a store cupboard staple.

You can also try substituting the lime pickle for Harissa to make "Harissa Chicken".  Again, you can make your own Harissa (recipe below) or Belazu make a particularly good one with real Rose Petals.  With both these recipes, I don't marinade the chicken for long.  This way, it is not too spicy for the kids, but I make a really kicking gravy for the adults, so every one is happy.  If, however, you do not have kids to feed, you could try marinating the chicken overnight, before roasting. 

Next a recipe for Saffron Rice with Roast Cauliflower and Crispy Fried Onions.  This is a sort of mix-up of lots of different things.  The Saffron Rice is originally a Persian or Iranian dish and served hot but I wanted to make more of a salad. I have added some green lentils and toasted cauliflower and it is delicious served at room temperature and a great accompaniment to the chicken.  The crispy onions on top are so easy and can be used in many different recipes.  Whilst making them, you get a delicious onion flavoured oil, which is great for seasoning not only this recipe but lots of different salads.  If your onions go soggy you can just crisp them up again in the oven but make sure you do not burn them!

Roast Chicken with Lime Pickle

Take you chicken out of the fridge a while before you roast it to allow it to come up to room temperature.  Only buy Free Range Chicken, if you can afford it.  It really is worth the extra money!  Remove any trussing.  Smother the chicken in Lime Pickle and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Turn up side down (breast side down) and place on a roasting tray in a hot oven at 180°C.  Roast for 20 minutes before turning the right way up and returning to the oven for a further 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown.  Check to see if the chicken is cooked regularly after 45 minutes total cooking time.  Insert a skewer into the thickest bit of the leg, closest to the breast, and the juices should run clear.  When cooked, remove the chicken to a plate large enough to catch the juices and cover with tin foil.  Place the roasting tray on the hob over a medium flame.  Add a good glug of white wine and scrape up all the gunky bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add a good few tablespoons of Lime Pickle and taste for seasoning.  The gravy should have a punchy kick.  Add any further juices escaped from the chicken and serve. (The cooking times are for a fairly large, family sized chicken.  Adjust the cooking times accordingly.)
Harissa can be used to substitute the lime pickle on the chicken in exactly the same way and then also stirred into the gravy.  I will give you a fantastic recipe for "Roast Winter Vegetable Cous Cous" very soon, which is delicious with this version of the Chicken.   

Harissa Sauce

Put some roughly chopped red onion and some peeled cloves of garlic in an oven proof dish. Sprinkle generously with cumin and olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover and roast in a medium oven until soft. Char-grill some red peppers and whole red chillis until blackened all over. Place in a bowl covered with cling film and leave to cool. Remove the skin and seeds. Whiz up all ingredients in a food processor with some olive oil, a preserved lemon or two and a bunch of coriander, until smooth.

Saffron Basmati Rice with Saffron, Roasted Cauliflower and Crispy Fried Onions

Crispy Fried Onions
Thinly slice a few large onions. Place in a saucepan and add vegetable oil to about half way to the top of the onions.  You don't want to use too much oil as the more intense the flavour the better.  The onions will cook down a huge amount.  Place on a medium heat and cook carefully until they have sunk below the surface of the oil.  Turn up the heat and deep fry until golden brown. Be careful not to burn, stirring regularly, especially in the corners where the onions will cook most quickly. Drain immediately and break up any clumps.  Scatter onto some kitchen paper and leave to crisp up. Season lightly with salt. When cool pour the oil into a bottle for further use.
Meanwhile cook some basmati rice with salt and a generous pinch of saffron. Again, don't use too much water as you don't want to dilute the saffron too much. The rice should be a beautiful, deep orange colour.  When cooked, drain and refresh in cold water.  This is a salad and it is important that the rice is fluffy and separated.  Allow to drain again for at least an hour, if not more. Cook some Green Lentils very gently in plenty of water for about 15-20 minutes until tender.  You want them to still have a little bite and texture.  Drain for at least half and hour.  Next roast your cauliflower. Cut it into even size florets and make sure it is completely dry by patting it in between paper towels. Toss the florets with a good glug of olive oil, some salt, some freshly ground black pepper, a few teaspoons of cumin and some hot chilli powder or cayenne. Mix well and lay out in a single layer in a roasting pan. Roast in the middle of the oven at 200°C (400°F) for 20 minutes, then give them a good toss to ensure even cooking.  Roast for 10 minutes more or until the edges are brown and crunchy.  In a bowl mix the rice with some of the onion oil, plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Immediately you will taste the great combination of saffron and subtle onion flavours. You can add some finely chopped coriander if you like.  Add the lentils and cauliflower and check for seasoning. Pile onto a serving plate and heap crispy onions on top.
Really Lovely Roast Vegetables to serve with your Chicken
Choose from Carrots, Parsnip, Fennel, Celeriac, Swede, Butternut Squash and Pumpkin.
Cut up your vegetables into large chunky, bite size pieces.  Carrots, Fennel and Parsnips should be cut into even sized wedges, lengthways through the root. Toss with good olive oil, salt and pepper and lay out on roasting trays.  Each vegetable should be on a separate tray with plenty of room between each piece, to allow even cooking.  Roast until golden in a hot oven at 180 -200°C.  Only mix together when cooked.  Add chopped herbs if you like.

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