Shavuot Ideas – Saffron Semifreddo with a Dried Cherry-Cardamom Sauce and Almond-Orange Financiers

Chocolate is most people’s guilty pleasure, but my guilty pleasure is ice cream. And not just any ice cream, but luscious Italian gelato, preferably eaten in Italy at one of my favorite gelateria, Perche No!, in Firenze, or in Israel at Gelateria Siciliana on Ibn Givrol in Tel Aviv.

I also enjoy making my own ice cream and sorbet at home, which I have blogged in several posts here.

The final course for the dinner party last week was a recipe for semifreddo that intrigued me from the moment I saw it on the Food52 website. Semifreddo literally means “half-frozen” and is a frozen dessert that has a mousse-like texture from equal parts of ice cream custard and whipped double (heavy) cream.

I didn’t deviate from the recipe at all and even made the salted-honey hazelnuts, but in the rush of trying to serve the dessert, I forgot to plate them. It was actually better in the end because it would have been too much of a taste contrast with the mini almond-orange financiers I served on the side. The dessert was a huge hit, which made me very happy since Mimi was afraid that some of the guests might not like the taste of saffron. I used a very high quality saffron that I had been keeping for a special occasion.

Sarah, from Foodbridge, brought a large bag filled with Surinam Cherries, also known as Pitanga in Brazil. They were a perfect decoration for the top of the semifreddo and were also quite delicious. I had never had them before but they  remind me of cherries, which as my faithful readers know is one of my favorite fruits.

Mimi suggested that we serve an alternative to the semifreddo, so I decided to make mini financiers which I baked in a silcone chocolate mold that can withstand up to 220C (425F). Financiers are a light teacake, similar to sponge cake, and are usually made of almond flour, a beurre noisette (brown butter), egg whites, icing sugar and flour. Financiers are often baked in rectangular-shaped molds which are suppose to resemble a bars of gold. You can find these molds in cooking shops, such as 4Chef, in Tel Aviv.

The dessert was a huge hit and I will definitely make this again. I made the semifreddo a couple of days in advance and made the financiers the day before, but you could easily make these several days before and freeze them.

The dessert was served with Mimi’s delicious homemade liqueurs. On offer were lemoncello, geranium, apricot, strawberry and coffee. I love all of them, but my personal favorite is apricot.

Saffron Semifreddo with Cherry Cardamom Syrup and Salted Honey Hazelnuts

Serving Size: 6

For the Saffron semifreddo:

5 large egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon high quality saffron threads

1 tablespoon sweet vermouth

1 cup double (heavy) cream

For cherry-cardamom syrup:

1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cherries

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cardamom, toasted

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup filtered water

For the salted honey-hazelnuts:

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons honey

For the Saffron semifreddo:

Bring a small saucepan or double boiler with water to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Have an ice water bath big enough for the base of the double boiler or mixing bowl on standby.

In a medium glass bowl or the pan of a double boiler, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and saffron threads. Place the bowl or pan over the simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture is thick and doubled in volume.

Remove from heat and submerge in the ice water bath, continuing to stir to bring down the temperature. If the mixture gets too cold and is sticking to the bottom of the pan, it will release easily if you run hot water on the outside of the bowl.

Beat the heavy cream in a mixer until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Place the egg yolk mixture and the sweet vermouth in the bowl of mixer with a whip attachment, and whip until the mixture becomes thick and pale in color.

Add a third of the whipped cream to the egg mixture and stir together gently. Fold in the remaining whipped cream into the egg mixture. When this is done, you can spoon the mixture into 6 individual ramekins, or place it in a plastic cellophane lined loaf pan, or decorative silicone mold of your choice. Cover the ramekins or other container with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours. To serve, run a butter knife under hot water and cut around the edge of the ramekin to invert the semifreddo onto individual plates. Serve with the cherry-cardamom syrup and salted honey-hazelnuts (recipes to follow).

For cherry-cardamom syrup:

Combine all of the ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the syrup is reduced by half and coats the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.

For the salted honey-hazelnuts:

Preheat oven to 180C (350F) degrees.

Place the hazelnuts in a small mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil and sea salt. Add honey and toss once more to coat. Transfer the nuts to a silpat-lined baking sheet and bake, stirring at least once, until the nuts are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Once the hazelnuts have cooled, roughly chop the nuts and serve alongside the semifreddo.


Almond-Orange Financiers

Yield: 21 5 x 10-cm (2 x 4-inch) financiers or 50 mini

30g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, for buttering 21 financier molds

140g (1 cup) almond flour or finely ground blanched almonds

210g (1-2/3 cups) icing (confectioner's) sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Zest of one large orange

Pinch of salt

5 large egg whites

185 g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 220C (425F).

With a pastry brush, butter the financier molds with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Arrange them side-by-side, but not touching, on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet with the buttered molds in the freezer to re-solidify the butter and make the financiers easier to unmold.

In a large bowl, combine the almonds, sugar, flour, orange zest and salt. Mix to blend. Add the egg whites and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the 3/4 cup of butter and mix until blended. The mixture will be fairly thin and pourable.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling them almost to the rim. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven. Bake until the financiers just being to rise, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200C (400F). Bake until the financiers are a light, delicate brown and begin to firm up, about another 7 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the financiers rest in the oven until firm, about another 7 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the financiers cool in the molds for 10 minutes. Unmold.

(Note: If you are using metal Financier molds, then wash them immediately with a stiff brush in hot water without detergent so that they retain their seasoning.) The financiers may be stored in an airtight container for several days.

Holiday Stollen

It was my turn again to bring goodies for my team’s weekly Kabbalat Shabbat. Since my turn fell on Christmas Eve and given the fact that none of us celebrate Christmas, I thought I would do something unusual and make a typical German Christmas fruit cake that no one on my team had ever seen or tasted.

Stollen is something that is very familiar to me because my family would eat it along with lebkuchen, speculaas, and my grandmother’s famous butter cookies for Hannukah and the end of the year family celebrations. My grandmother never made a stollen at home, but she always received one from family friends in Germany. I thought it would be fun to make one. Now I know why my grandmother never made it and only served it once a year. It is an absolute calorie bomb! Only make this if you are giving 99.9% of it away as I did. Of course, you are welcome to eat as much as you want, it is absolutely delicious, but don’t tell me I didn’t warn you about your growing hips.

I think most of the team liked it because they are still talking about it this week and asking me when I am going to bake another one.

I would like to wish all of you a very Happy Holidays and a Peaceful 2010 from the Tapuzina baronial dynasty.

Holiday Stollen

Yield: Makes 2 loaves, each about 700 grams (1 1/2 pounds)

2/3 cup black raisins

2/3 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries

1/3 cup dark rum

1 cup almond halves, lightly toasted

1 package active dry yeast (25g fresh yeast)

1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved

450g (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg yolk

1/2 cup chopped candied ginger

1/4 cup chopped candied orange

1/4 cup chopped candied lemon

2 cups icing sugar


The night before baking, put the raisins, cherries or cranberries, and rum in a small bowl.


Put the almonds with 1/4 cup water in another small bowl. Cover both and let sit overnight at room temperature.

Stollen Starter

The next day, in an electric mixer with paddle attachment, set on low speed, make the starter by mixing the yeast with milk until dissolved. Add 1 cup flour and mix until a soft, sticky dough forms, about 2 minutes. Transfer the starter to a lightly greased bowl, cover with oiled or buttered plastic wrap, and let rest for 40 minutes at room temperature.

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and set on low speed, mix the remaining 3 cups of flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, lemon zest and vanilla seeds. With the motor running, pour in 1 cup of melted butter. Mix at low speed for 1 minute, then add the egg yolk. Mix until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute more. You may have to add a little milk if the mixture is still too dry.

Divide the starter into 3 pieces and add it to the mixing bowl, 1 piece at a time, mixing at low speed until each addition is thoroughly combined, 2 to 3 minutes after each addition. After the starter is absorbed, mix the dough on a medium speed until glossy, 4 to 5 minutes.


Add the almonds, candied ginger, candied orange and candied lemon, and mix at low speed until combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the raisins, cherries, and rum, and mix until combined, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Stollen Dough

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until the fruit and nuts are well mixed into the dough rather than sitting on the surface, and the dough is smooth and glossy, about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 1 hour to let rise slightly, then knead it once or twice, cover with plastic and let rest for another hour.

Shaped Stollen

Divide into two equal pieces and shape each into an oval loaf about 20cm (8 inches) long. Stack two rimmed baking sheets on top of each other, lining the top sheet with parchment paper. Place the loaves on top and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the loaves to rest for 1 more hour at room temperature.

Baked Stollen

About 20 minutes before the rise is completed, preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Remove the plastic wrap and bake for about 1 hour. The loaves should be uniformly dark golden brown and the internal temperature taken from middle of each loaf should be 88C (190F).

Stollen covered in Ginger Sugar

Meanwhile, mix the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and 2-1/4 teaspoons ground ginger in a small bowl. When stollen is done, transfer the top pan onto a wire cooling rack (leave stollen on pan). While still hot, brush the stollen with the remaining 1 cup of melted butter, letting the butter soak into loaves. Sprinkle the ginger sugar on the tops and sides of the loaves. When the loaves are completely cool, cover loosely parchment paper or foil and let sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.

The next day, sift 1-1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar over the loaves, rolling to coat the bottom and sides evenly with sugar. Wrap each loaf in plastic and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 days before sifting the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar over the loaves before serving.

Curry Roasted Chicken

Since my surgery, I have been trying to get back in the kitchen, but I have been working long days at work and so I haven’t had a lot of energy to cook. Most of our meals have not been special enough to blog about. Last Shabbat, I decided it was time to cook again. There was a whole chicken staring at me in the freezer and I knew that I wanted to try something new. I had a hankering for curry, so what better than curry roasted chicken. You can be very flexible with this recipe by using a curry and other spices of your choice. This chicken is even better the next day. You could easily make this dish the night before and pop it in the oven the next day.

Curry Roasted Chicken

Serving Size: 4

1 roasting chicken about 2kg (4lb)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

4 green cardamom pods

1 tablespoon medium madras curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 head garlic cloves separated and unpeeled, plus 6 cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons finely grated ginger

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots , unpeeled and quartered

3 sticks cinnamon

1 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 230C (450F). Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place on a rack in a small roasting pan or baking dish. Set aside.

Spices for Curry Rub

In a small frying pan over medium heat, combine cumin seeds, nigella seeds, black peppercorns, coriander seeds and cardamom pods. Swirl until lightly toasted and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly; grind using a mortar and pestle. (To save time, or if you don't have equipment, use pre-ground spices and toast in pan 45 seconds.) Mix with curry powder, cinnamon and red pepper flakes. Add six finely chop peeled garlic cloves and combine with ginger and olive oil in a small bowl. Rub mixture over entire chicken.

Curry Roasted Chicken

Place the unpeeled garlic, shallots and cinnamon sticks inside the chicken cavity. Tie legs with kitchen string. Roast 30 minutes before basting with 1/2 cup of the chicken broth. Roast 20 minutes more, then baste with the remaining 1/2 cup of broth. Continue cooking until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife and meat is no longer pink, about 1 hour and 15 minutes in total. Remove from oven and let stand for a couple of minutes.

Not my Grandmother’s Honey Cake

We didn’t have a Rosh Hashana tradition of making honey cakes in my house. I didn’t even know there was a tradition to serve honey cake during this holiday. We made Honigkuchen, which were basically lebkuchen, a type of spice cookie that we always made for Hannukah. My grandmother always made Noodle Schalet (Noodle Pudding, not Kugel, with eggs, lemon zest and raisins) with lemon sauce for dessert. We had Suesse Apfel (carmelised apple slices in honey) as a side dish with roast beef.

So when I moved to Israel, people started asking me what does your mother put in her honey cake? Does she put nuts in, coffee or tea, schnapps, only cinnamon? I had no idea what they were talking about. All of the supermarkets and bakeries were selling different types of honey cakes. The few times I had them in the States, I always remembering them being dry and inedible. I made my first honey cake a few years ago and I could have built a house with it. It was heavy and dry. Then, I made the Beekeeper’s Honey Cake and it was less dry.

I finally decided which cake I am going to make for Erev Rosh Hashana, the Magical Honey Cake. As most of my regular readers know, I usually have to tweak a recipe and this time was no different. I used Janna Gur’s recipe as a base and added a few more spices, some orange rind, and substituted cranberries soaked in rum for the raisins. I cheated and tasted one of the cakes on the second day, it is moist, spicy and bursting with flavour from the honey. This is going to be my tried and true honey cake from now on.

Magical Honey Cake

Yield: 3 loaves

6 cups + 3 tablespoons flour

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1-1/2 cups honey

1 cup oil

4 eggs

2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee

1 cup boiling water

2 level teaspoons baking soda

Zest of two medium oranges

1/3 cup dried cranberries soaked in rum, just to cover

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F). Grease the loaf pans.

Dry Ingredients

Mix the flour, sugar, and spices in a bowl. Add the honey, oil and eggs, and whisk into a smooth batter. Dissolve the coffee into 1 cup of boiling water. Add the baking soda to the batter, and then add the coffee. Gently fold in the orange rind, cranberries and rum, and the walnuts.

Honey Cake Batter

Pour the batter into the greased loaf pans and bake for approximately 45 minutes until the cake is dark brown and the toothpick is clean with a few crumbs adhering.

Cool the cakes completely and wrap with aluminum foil. Place in a cool, dry place to mature for 7 days.

Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement

Tomorrow at sundown begins the observance of and twenty-five hour fast during Yom Kippur. The meal before the fast should be simple, not too rich and not too spicy. It is better not to make the meal with garlic or hot peppers.

At the completion of the fast, it is better to eat something that is not too hard on the stomach, so we usually break the fast by eating biscuits (cookies) and crackers, and of course some water, but not too fast or you will upset your stomach.

A Yemenite co-worker told me today that I should drink a glass of fresh pomegranate juice before the fast, it will make the fast easier. I just happen to have some pomegranate juice and I am going to try it.

I found a very interesting Saudi Arabian food blog called Arabic Bites. Two sisters share their recipes from the region. I have really enjoyed reading the blog and I decided to make one of their recipes for the break-the-fast, Cardamom Biscuits. They are actually Iraqi biscuits called Klejah and they are not too sweet, just a perfect end to the fast.

Hope that you have an easy fast. Gmar Chatimah Tova (May you be sealed in the book of life).

And to my Muslim friends, Ramadan Kareem.

Rosh Hashana 5768

Chag Sameach everyone! I hope you had a nice meal with your family. We went to my cousin’s house for the first night of Rosh Hashana and had a lovely time.

We invited some friends of ours for dinner last night. My husband made a Rosh Hashana favourite and I introduced several new surprises to our repertoire. Everything was delicious.

The cake calls for sour cream and one of my guests has a dairy allergy and can only tolerate butter in baked goods, so I substituted a non-dairy yogurt in its place. It worked fine.

And in case you are wondering about why I served a dairy cake, we keep kashrut according to the Italian tradition which is one hour between meat and dairy.

Our menu was:


Provence des Papes Savoury Biscuits

Rosemary Cashews

First Course
Apples with honey
Pomegranate seeds

Ducklava with Chestnut Honey

Main Course

Clay Pot Festival of Fruits Chicken
Green beans

Round Challah with dried fruits and nuts
Golan Winery Sion Creek red wine


Beekeeper’s Honey Cake
Mango-Nectarine sorbet

Provence des Papes Savoury Biscuits

Yield: 24 biscuits

Recipe from Restaurant: La Garbure (Châteauneuf du Pape) Chef: Jean Louis Giansilly

5 garlic cloves

3 sprigs of basil

5 tbsp olive oil

50g (3.5 tbsp) pine nuts

300g (1.3 cups) flour

10cl (.4 cup) warm water

10cl (.4 cup) olive oil

2 tsp salt

25g (1.7 tablespoons) baking powder

4 egg yolks

Ground pepper

Prepare a pesto by crushing the garlic cloves with the basil, olive oil, and pine nuts.

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, virgin olive oil, egg yolks, warm water, and some ground pepper. Add the pesto and blend well to obtain a smooth dough.

Roll into a long snake and slice the into 1/4 inch (6mm) wafers and bake at 180C (350F) for about 10 minutes (depending on size).

Clay Pot Festival of Fruits Chicken

Serving Size: 4 to 6

This recipe was created by my husband for the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashana. It is a fruity, but not an overly sweet dish.

1 chicken, cut into eighths

1 onion, thinly sliced

4-5 whole garlic cloves

2 cm fresh ginger, grated or chopped finely

1 quince, cored and cut into eighths

10-20 majhoul dates, pitted and cut into quarters

10 dried figs, stem removed and cut into eighths

10-20 dried sour apricots, cut into quarters

20 walnut halves

Couple of pinches of black pepper

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp cloves

1 tsp. ground allspice

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup dry red wine

1 cup water

½ c pomegranate molasses

½ tbsp balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

On a low heat, place the olive oil in the clay pot, just to cover the surface. Add the onions when the oil is hot, but not sizzling. When the onion is soft, add the garlic. When the onion is lightly brown, turn up the heat and add the chicken pieces, stirring constantly until browned, approximately 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on a low flame for approximately 1 ½ hours, stirring every 15 minutes and checking that there is enough remaining liquid for a nice sauce.

Server with nut-studded rice or couscous.

Helish Ice Cream

The Hebrew word for Cardamom is הל or hel. I love the flavor of cardamom and sprinkle it on apricot or peach tarts before I put them in the oven. It adds a nice spicy touch to the fruit.

It was suppose to be 40C (now they say 36C) tomorrow, so I decided that this is a good time to pull out the ice cream machine and make some cardamom ice cream. I have never made it before.

The best version I have ever had is at the best fish restaurant in Israel, called Uri Buri in Acco (Acre). They make all of their own ice creams and they are creamy, flavorful and lovely. In fact, all of their dishes are amazing. I promise I will blog about the restaurant.

This recipe has an incredible creamy luscious texture, a subtle taste of cardamom that explodes onto the palate after you get it into your mouth and it is totally sinful. This is a very rich ice cream, so a little goes a long way.

Cardamom Ice Cream

Yield: About 1 liter (quart)

20 green cardamom pods

425 ml (approx. 1 pint) double double (heavy) cream

6 egg yolks

6 tablespoons caster (granulated) sugar

1/4 cup mascarpone

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

Crush the cardamom pods, tip them into a saucepan and mix in the cream. Set over a low heat, bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Cover and leave to infuse for one hour. Meanwhile, find two large bowls, one of which will sit comfortably inside the other. Fill the larger bowl with ice and rest the smaller one on it. Set aside.

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they become pale and fluffy, then slowly stir in the cardamom cream. Return to a clean pan and place over a low heat. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon until the mix forms a thick custard. This will take between 10 and 20 minutes. Do not let the custard boil or leave it unattended at this stage, as it can easily split.

As soon as it forms the thick custard, remove from the heat and tip into the bowl sitting on the ice. Keep stirring until it is tepid, then strain into a clean container, cover and chill.

Once cold, process the custard in an ice-cream maker, according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Upper Galilee – Beautiful Place, Beautiful Food, Beautiful Drink

The Upper Galilee is one of my favourite areas to visit in Israel. Most of our delicious fruit comes from this area: apples, pears, plums, cherries, raspberries and grapes….Ah! the grapes. It is chockful of vineyards producing some delicious wines. Yes, Israel is producing some very nice wines thanks to a number of boutique wineries (not all of them in the Galilee) that have popped up over the years. Some of my favourite wineries are Flam, Sea Horse, Amphorae, Saslove, Galil Mountain, Dalton, Recanati, Margalit, Castel and Carmel’s (click on Carmel Fine Wines) new line of single vineyard and private collection wines.

There are also boutique dairies producing some top class cheeses and yogurts, boutique olive oil producers and delicious honey.

I am always relaxed when I go to the North and there are a number of zimmers or cabins that you can stay at for the weekend. Most of the zimmers include a homemade Israeli breakfast with omelets, homemade jams, assorted bread, Israeli salad, olives and cheeses. I find the zimmers a perfect way to getaway for a romantic weekend. Most of them have a jacuzzi for two!

If you want luxury, then I recommend staying at Israel’s only Relais & Chateau hotel, Mitzpe Hayamim. It is a beautiful spa-hotel with a great view of the Hula valley, the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and even the Mediterranean to the west.

The scenery is breathtaking and it is a great place to go on long nature walks and hikes in the mountains.

The Upper Galilee always makes me think of wonderful Middle Eastern dishes. I love kubbeh, grilled meats and all the different mezzes, such as roasted cauliflower and aubergine, hummous, red pepper salad, etc.

Usually when I serve a Middle Eastern dish, I buy the salads from a very sweet Druze woman who has a restaurant in Dalyit al Karmel and comes to the a shopping mall near my house to sell her delicious salads, lamb kubbeh and baklawa. I like to buy her hoummous, cauliflower puree, red pepper hummous and her kubbeh. Shown in the two photos above. The fourth salad on the bottom right is made of courgettes.

One of my favourite dishes is Makloubeh, which means “Upside Down”. It is the Palestinian national dish and is also made in Jordan and a few other Middle Eastern countries. This dish can also be made with lamb or a mixture of chicken and lamb.

Don’t be shocked by the amounts of oil. You do not have to use that much.

If you are using kosher chicken do not add any extra salt. You get enough salt from the chicken and the salted eggplant. I would add a little more of the spices to the dish, but I like fragrant dishes.


Serving Size: 8


2 whole chickens, skinned and quartered (or 8 chicken thighs)

3-1/2 cups canola oil, plus 3 tablespoons

1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon cumin powder

Salt to taste

4 saffron threads

2 cinnamon sticks

5 whole cardamom pods

3 peppercorns

5 cups water

Freshly ground black pepper

2 large heads of cauliflower, separated in to florets

2 large eggplant, peeled, cubed and salted; place in a colander so the water can drain

2 large onions, halved through the root end, thinly sliced, core still attached

5 cups medium grain rice

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon allspice

4 saffron threads

1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts for garnish

In a large saucepan, brown both sides of the chicken in 1/2 cup canola oil. Once browned, add nutmeg, allspice, cumin powder, salt, saffron, cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds, and peppercorns.

Add approximately 5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add freshly ground pepper. Cover and cook over low-medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the meat begins to pull away from the bone. Set the chicken and 2 cups of broth aside.

Fry the cauliflower in a large pot with 3 cups of canola oil until golden brown. Remove and let drain on paper towels. Drain the eggplant and fry as you did the cauliflower. Set both the fried cauliflower and eggplant aside. Heat 3 tablespoons of canola oil in very large pot. When the oil is hot, not smoking, add the onions and saute them for approximately 10 minutes. Place the chicken pieces on top of the onions and cook together for a few minutes then cover and let sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse the rice about 5 or 6 times until the water runs clear. Put the rice in a bowl, add the spices and mix well.

Place the fried eggplant and cauliflower on top of the chicken and then put the rice on top of the vegetables. Add the 2 cups of reserved chicken broth (make sure the whole spices are not in the broth) and water to just barely cover the rice. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover. When the water has been absorbed, the dish is done, approximately 25 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and let rest for about 10 to 15 minutes. Place a large serving plate on top of the dish and flip the pot and plate over. Carefully lift the pot off the plate and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

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