Mayans had predicted that the world is to end by 2012. Well, we are in 2015; and the world is still going strong. But a lot has happened since 2012 where humanity was lost. Natural calamities do happen, but the unnatural ones irk me the most. And it’s not only about my country, it is happening everywhere in this world. Good, bad, ugly, don’t know what I am to make of this situation. But my blood boils when I hear of men entering a school or a coffee house or a newspaper office with machine guns. This jihad is not for me to understand. Can a religion justify violence against unarmed children or journalists?
The most discomforting of the recent updates for me was the Charlie Hebdo Massacre. Yes, I know to some extent the journalists took it a bit far with their right to free press. And even after repeated warnings, they didn’t really stop. They were to some extent to be blamed, but the tensions that followed were so uncalled for. I am in no mood to turn this article into a political drama. But being a journalist, I did condole their untimely deaths. A satire is supposed to be taken with humour. Such blood bath is really uncalled for, and gives out a message of opposite meaning.
A unity is difficult in this scenario, but the fact remains that French and Arabic are 2 of my most favourite cuisines of the world. The foodie in me was quite unhappy to witness all the unrest in the world. But well that’s life! So I decided to make a dish that united both of them on my dinner plate at least. I paired a perfectly simmered chicken in red wine sauce (heavily inspired by Coq-Au-Vin) with steamed easy couscous. It’s a dish which is continents apart, and yet it feels like a match made in heaven. Do try this simple recipe on a lazy weekend; with an additional bottle of wine to drink along while the chicken cooks!!
Chicken In wine sauce
1 full chicken cut into big pcs, with bone
3 Slices of Thick Cut Bacon, chopped
1 Large Onion, chopped
1 Carrot cut into large chunks
6 Cloves of Garlic, peeled but not chopped
¼th bottle of Shiraz Red wine (or a bit more, no one is looking or cares really!!)
1 cup of water
¼ cup of dark rum
2 Tbsp of Tomato Puree
2 tsp of Fresh Thyme Leaves
1/2 cup of All Purpose Flour
2 Tbsp of Butter
1 Tbsp of Oil
A handful of Fresh Chopped Parsley or its Indian cousin- cilantro
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large skillet (non-stick) over medium high heat, add the bacon and cook until crisp. While that happens, coat the dry chicken pieces with flour, salt and pepper well, and set it aside.
With a slotted spoon remove the bacon and add the chicken to sauté in bacon drippings. Fry the chicken for a few minutes or until golden brown on pretty much all sides. Set it aside.
If your pan is very dry, add 1 more Tbsp. of olive oil and sauté the onions, garlic and carrots for a few minutes or until they develop some colour. Salt and pepper the veggies to let it hydrate and get the stuck chicken bits away from the pan.
Add the dark rum to the pan and allow it to cook out for about a minute. Stir in the tomato puree and allow that to cook for another minute, while stirring the whole time.
Add in the wine and water, and bring it to a simmer; stirring in at times. Slide in the pan fried chicken and bacon; cover with a lid and let it simmer on low to medium heat for 30 minutes or so, until the chicken is tender.
Couscous with Spices and Preserved Lemon
I paired this amazing dish with Arabic inspired couscous. All I did was flavour the dry couscous with salt, pepper and fresh ground coriander powder. Mixed it well and pour the hot water on the grains till everything got emerged in the water and half an inch of water floated on top. I covered it tightly to let it steam well and double in volume. As an additive, you may chop some sundried tomato and/or preserved lemon to garnish the fork fluffed couscous.