Thursday, December 11, 2008

Recipe: Chicken Taghrib (Tashreeb, Tharid, Thareed)

Today's world cuisine that you can prepare at home comes at you straight out of Babylon and time. Taghrib is a dish that can be traced back thousands of years. It is a popular meal in the middle east and comes in a variety of styles and range of ingredients. Versions that feature lamb and goat are common and the dish can contain an array of vegetables, spice combinations and garnishes. I do know that the prophet Mohammed enjoyed it because he thought enough of it to mention it. Jesus of Nazareth probably ate it as well. This dish is coming deep out of history folks, a lot of noteworthy people have enjoyed it and I am bargaining you will as well!

This recipe is based on several Iraqi ones that I found in my research. From what I read, taghrib's "comfort food" status in Iraq kind of makes it the equivalent of the US' "American Chop Suey". A common dish across the USA, every American family has its own recipe. It is the same with the Iraqi's and taghrib. Given my choice, I'm going for the taghrib instead of the American chop suey. It is a rich, flavorful and delicious dish that people should hear more about. It's kind of like a curry, but not quite. I also like the way it is ladled over flat bread instead of rice. It's an interesting twist and certainly lends itself to some tasteful, hands-on dining!

You can use a variety of flat breads as the base for taghrib, but the thinner ones like markouk or lavash are similar to the breads the Iraqi's use. My choice for this dish is Lebanese markouk. Markouk is a new favorite bread of mine. Very thin, chewy, delicious and about the size of the largest of large pizzas you could find. It is the perfect compliment for this dish. No worries though, naan, roti or pita will suffice nicely.

Finally, I added a bit of rosewater to this dish because I noticed many spice combinations for taghrib called for crushed rose petals. There are no crushed rose petals in my home, there's plenty of rose water. It worked out fine.

If you like hearty stews with a middle eastern slant, give taghrib a try. You're going to really enjoy this dish!

Chicken Taghrib

2-1/2 lbs. skinless chicken (I use thighs)
1/3 to 1/2 cup of olive oil
3 onions (frenched)
6 cloves garlic (smashed)
4 medium red potatoes (peeled and cut into 1-1/2" cubes)
2 bay leaves
2 TBS curry powder (I use Ship Brand Masala Curry)
1 TBS turmeric
1/2-3/4 TBS sea salt
2 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp rose water
16 ozs. chickpeas (cooked or canned)
Markouk flat bread (or other flatbread like naan, pita, etc.)
Lemon wedges
Dried sumac (to taste)

Season the chicken with some salt, set aside.

Set a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil heats up, brown the chicken 1-2 pieces at a time. Remove and set aside.

Add the onions, garlic, potatoes, bay leaves, curry powder, turmeric and sea salt and cook, stirring frequently. Be sure to coat all the ingredients in the spice mixture. If the mixture seems a little too dry, add a little more oil. It's normal for some of the spices to stick to the pan. Be sure not to burn it. Continue cooking until the onions and potatoes begin to turn translucent. About 8 to 12 minutes.

Add the browned chicken, chicken broth, water and rose water, stir well to incorporate. Everything should just be covered by the water. Add or subtract water as necessary. Bring to a boil then lower to a medium simmer and continue to simmer uncovered until the chicken is cooked and tender and the potatoes are tender but not mushy (about 20 to 25 minutes).

Add the chickpeas and allow to heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat.

Line the serving bowls with pieces of torn bread. Spoon the tashreeb into the bowls and sprinkle with sumac powder and a good twist of lemon juice.

Serve hot accompanied with a lemon wedge and extra sumac powder.

Recipe: Tashreeb Dijaaj from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

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