Sometimes a vacation doesn’t exactly do what you wish for it to do. Yes, for sure, I relaxed as much as I could, so much that we didn’t even go for any long tours, nor did I stay at HD’s place as much as I would have liked to. I visited only those relatives who I had to, and avoided moving around as much as I could. Sometimes, it was boring but that was all I wanted to do. Still, after coming back, it feels like I have been pulled back into a bigger rut than what I had left and gone.
But then life is about fighting it out. We just say “Hasbunallahu Wa Ni’mal Wakeel” – “Allah (Alone) is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs (for us).” (Surah Aal Imran:173) and leave everything to Him. Is there any other option? I am trying to learn way to fight my stress and channel it into something positive, maybe spend the energy on getting back to my weight loss. Hehe… It isn’t easy especially now with the way things are going, but usually tunnels do have an end to them and there is always light there… 🙂
If you are wondering if I am positive like this, then I ain’t. I keep having my nervous breakdown at times, at the end of which I think to myself, why did that happen! We trust in Allah and His affairs, but still as humans, we like to think – or rather overthink – of the combinations and permutations of ifs and buts. I am slowly trying to tell myself that such thoughts only manage to put in a lot of negative energy within ourselves and in turns helps us in spoiling our health. It is for us to effectively find ways to channel it out so that minimal damage is caused to our system…
This year, I have been slow with sharing Emirati recipes on the blog. My cooking has been bare minimal, mostly for survival and it has been difficult to say the least. The girls are getting fussier by the day and my mood to try something new is proportionately decreasing with their attitude. I guess that is how it happens as kids grow up. HD and B are so easy to please and they are always welcoming to anything new, however the girls like usual dishes, but with no daal, no sabzi, only non-veg! How can I give in to that request every single day! On top of that, Rasha won’t eat eggs and Azza won’t eat meat and fish, so you can imagine how much my choices are limited. Let me tell you, it can be really frustrating… :/
OK, so coming back to the dish for the day, I saw this recipe in a weekend magazine during the last National Day, and as usual, I tore the pages and pushed it into my folder specifically meant for Emirati recipes. “Dejaaj Tahat” literally means “chicken at the bottom” and the dish was mentioned in English as “Chicken Biriyani”. I already have an Emirati biriyani recipe that is adapted from the bible of UAE cuisine by Celia Ann Brock-Al Ansari. There was quite a difference in the method of this dish, yet very similar to our usual biriyani.
The chicken is cooked separately and added to the masala prepared and then the rice is layered on top. The method of cooking the chicken and the masala separately is seen in the Thalassery style biriyani and it makes me wonder of the influences that Malabar cuisine has had on Emirati food in general. 🙂 The steaming is done through the usual dum process as illustrated in this post, however, I cooked a portion in a preheated 180 degrees oven for around 20 minutes, after covering the top with foil paper. I can’t stress enough on how much flavor the simple “Bezaar” spice blend adds to the oomph factor in this otherwise simple biriyani. I do urge you to try it if you are looking for a simple weekend meal… 🙂
Dejaaj Tahat ~ Emirati Chicken Rice
- FOR THE CHICKEN:
- 1 kg chicken cut into medium pieces
- 2 tsp bezaar spices
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- FOR MASALA:
- A fat pinch of saffron soaked in 4 tsp rose water
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium onions sliced
- 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
- 2 cardamom
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp bezaar spice
- 3 green chillies chopped
- 2 loomis dried lime
- 3 to matoes chopped
- FOR RICE:
- 3 cups basmati rice soaked for 30 minutes, washed and drained
- Juice of one lime
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- FOR DUM:
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 4-5 tbsp fried onions
- Fried cashews and raisins as required
- Coriander leaves for garnish
- Marinate the chicken in bezaar spices and salt for 30 minutes. Heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the chicken till 3/4 done. Set aside.
- In a big pan, heat the 4 tbsp olive oil. Add the onions, ginger garlic paste and the whole spices, with little salt, till the onion is wilted.
- Add the spice powders, loomi and tomato and cook till the tomatoes are mashed.
- Add half the saffron-rosewater mix and the chicken and cook for a couple of minutes. Adjust seasoning and set aside.
- Meanwhile, boil lots of water to cook the drained rice. Add sufficient salt, the oil and lime juice. Once it boils, add the soaked rice and cook for 10-12 minutes till done. There will be a slight bite in the rice, which is needed. Drain the rice well.
- Layer the rice on top of the prepared chicken masala. Spread the remaining saffron-rosewater mix and ghee. Tightly close the lid and cook on low flame for around 10-15 minutes.
- Serve with fried onions, cashews, raisins and coriander leaves on the top.