Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Iraqi Yellow Spice-Rubbed Chicken

Saveur magazine has the most intriguing articles. Some of their food stories are so well written that the writer's longing and aching nostalgia for the food he or she once experienced is palpable. Reading the Iraqi chicken story was like that for me. It was the memory of a young soldier stationed in a camp on the the Iraq-Kuwait border in the yearly days of the war. The food choices for her in those early war days were bland MREs, or exploring some local food options, which is how she happened to find this flavorful Iraqi Yellow Spice-Rubbed Chicken (Djaj Bil-Bahar Il-Asfar). Read the story by Felicia Campbell here. Here is the list of spices you'll need: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, whole black peppercorns, cardamom pods, dried chiles de árbol, allspice berries, whole cloves, dried rose hips, curry powder, ground cinnamon, ground sumac, ground ginger, nutmeg, fenugreek, garlic cloves… Phew.

The story was touching and prompted us to gather up all 15 of the seeds and spices that went into this Middle Eastern chicken masterpiece. I actually had them all except for the sumac, but I'm not sure how many people actually have things like cardamom seeds and fenugreek in their pantry. And I only had the dried rose hips for a Turkish doughnuts with rose hip syrup recipe that I've yet to make. Back to the chicken...We ground up all the spices and made the dry rub and grilled the butterflied whole chicken. The aroma was exotic and heavenly, and reminded us a little of a Jamaican jerk chicken. We served it with a yellow saffron rice, and a cucumber, tomato and onion salad, which is similar to Indian salads that we've made before. Give this recipe a try for something slightly exotic.

We started the meal with lemony hummus and pita chips.

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