20 February 2011

FOODalogue Travels to Egypt.... Dukkah-Crusted Chicken Scaloppine with Warm Carrot-Raisin Salad

Dukkah-Crusted Chicken Scaloppine
with Warm Carrot-Raisin Salad
 and Shallot Cream

Egypt has been in the headlines every moment of every day for these past few weeks. It would be tragic if we didn't have the opportunity to explore even the tiniest glimpse into the cuisine of Egypt as planned with Joan of FOODalogue and her Culinary Tour 2011. Thousands of years ago, ancient Egyptians left evidence of their love for food. Well-preserved wall paintings and carvings have been discovered on tombs and temples, depicting large feasts and an everchanging variety of foods. Egyptian cuisine echoes many flavours of the East. Their food has roots in Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria and has been adapted over centuries to become the cuisine we know and love today.

I so enjoyed exploring the cuisine of Egypt... unfamiliar and yet familiar at the same time. Joan has been travelling virtually wherever her imagination takes us. Who wouldn't enjoy taking a journey around the world even if it is from the comfort of your favourite armchair?? We have already met up in Panama where we feasted on traditional dishes  and visited the markets, caught our own salmon and King Crab in Alaska, traversed the spice markets of Turkey, discovered over 2,000 years of "harmony" in Japan and explored hot,sour,salty sweet flavours in Thailand. Next stop in Joan's itinerary, if you haven't guessed it already, is Egypt. Thank you for taking us there!!!!

In the bustling streets of Cairo, where the pavement is a marketplace and everything is for sale, food vendors serve up an overwhelming myriad of dishes to hungry customers. In days gone by locals would bring their own containers, pots or plates to fill up with a steaming serving of boiled and seasoned fava beans called ful medames for breakfast, or line up behind the kushari cart for a delicious mix of rice, lentils and noodles served with fragrant tomato sauce and fried onions. Other favourites are Egypt’s fava bean falafels, called tameya, often dished up with salad and bread, or a juicy skewer of marinated meat that has been cooking over hot charcoal.

It is almost impossible to find a culinary tour in Egypt at this point so you'll just enjoy the food while you're there...or better yet make friends and be invited for dinner. I did come across a local cooking school in Cairo, The House of Cooking, where you can learn to cook local dishes. Take their Eat Like an Egyptian class and you will be a pro in no time. I hope that life will return to normal for this ancient country and that we will be able to enjoy all that Egypt has to offer again soon.

For my dish I chose to recreate a chicken dish with Dukkah as the key ingredient. Dukkah is a common Egyptian spice but can be described best as more of a blend of roasted nuts seasoned with spices. The best way to eat dukkah in my opinion is to take some crusty bread, tear off a piece and dip it in olive oil and then in the dukkah. It is also good sprinkled over fresh salads, especially when combined with a little sumac. Dukkah makes everything better!!!!


With the nuts in the Dukkah as the star I agreed with Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks that Dukkah would make an outstanding, crunchy coating for chicken or fish as in this dish below. In Egypt chicken is often imported because native (firaakh) are often thin and tough, but you will find grilled chicken (firaakh mashwi) in restaurants and already cooked street-side everywhere you go.  I saved myself some time and money and found a jar of this wonderful spice/nut mixture at my local artisan bakery. It is even homemade!!! It is difficult to find so I have included Lazaro's recipe for this Egyptian specialty.

The dukkah created a crunchy, flavourful crust on the chicken but to me my new "food find" that stands out is the warm carrot raisin salad. You could add any spices you wish and experiment as I did. This time around I added cumin in place of the cardamon.

Bil-hanā' wa ash-shifā' بالهناء والشفاء / بالهنا والشفا (May you have your meal with gladness and health).


**Dukkah-Crusted Chicken Scaloppine with Warm Carrot-Raisin Salad and Shallot Cream**
based on a recipe from Lazaro Cooks

dukkah

1/4 cup coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1/2 cup almonds, thinly sliced
1/2 cup hazelnuts or pistachios, chopped
1 teaspoon dried mint flakes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

chicken

1 whole boneless chicken breast
Extra-virgin olive oil
Butter

carrot-raisin salad

4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
2 cups carrots, shredded
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground cardamom ( or cumin)
Pinch of salt, pepper to taste

scallion cream

1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 scallions, chopped
Pinch of salt, pepper to taste

************
To make Dukkah: In a dry skillet without oil, toast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and sesame seeds. Place in a food processor. Then, toast the almonds and hazelnuts, mixing gently until golden brown. Add to the seed mixture. Also, in the food processor place mint flakes, sea salt, and crushed red pepper flakes. Pulse to mix well. The mixture needs to be still coarse, dry, and crumbly but fine enough that all of the seeds are crushed. (can be made in advance and stored in an air-tight container; use leftover dukkah as a dip for flat bread, first dipped in oil).

Cut the breast into halves and then slice each half into thin scaloppine. Pound the scaloppine lightly on both sides to create an even thickness to allow even cooking. Brush with a little oil and sprinkle generously with the dukkah spice mix on both sides. Let the chicken sit for a few minutes.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and 1 tablespoon butter. When the butter melts, add the chicken scaloppine and saute for about 2 minutes per side (in batches if necessary, then add additional oil and butter for each new batch).

To make the warm carrot-raisin salad: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add onions and cook for a minute until the onions start to soften. Add the rest of the butter and cardamom and mix well. When the butter melts, add carrots and raisins. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make scallion cream: In a food processor, combine sour cream, lemon juice, scallions and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until the sauce is smooth and foamy.

Place a chicken scaloppine on top of carrot-raisin salad and spoon scallion cream sauce all over. Serve this with some Biram Ruz or steamed rice.

Serves 4

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33 comments:

  1. Given how much Egypt has been in the press lately, it is definitely perfect timing for this post! Dukkah sounds so wonderfully multi-purpose and I love the sound of that carrot salad!

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  2. I make my own dukkah and always give some to a friend who shares it with her friends... That is a lovely idea! What a healthy and mouthwatering dish.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. Valli this recipe is absolutely delicious and tasty! gloria

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  4. What a great idea to crust chicken with dukkah! I'll have to keep an eye out for locally made dukkah or just make my own. I'd love to have it on hand for dipping bread too.

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  5. With that Dukkah crust, no one's gonna know you used chicken breast - you've kicked it up all right!

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  6. Omg Val! What a gorgeous combination of flavours and textures...you've really outdone yourself. The dukkah sounds amazing on the chicken but I'm thinking I'd like more of that carrot salad...yum!

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  7. I love dukkah! Once you have it ready, you can use it in so many dishes. What a nice plate I see on the photo. It's a great combination of flavors.

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  8. that carrot-raisin salad sounds so good!
    you know when i was in the girl scouts, one of my leaders was a very good cook. she was way ahead of her time; making dishes that really belong in todays day in age. anywho, she made this carrot-raisin salad that had some sort of mild cheese in it. and for the longest time i have been trying to find the recipe. she's long since passed away but i am determined to figure it out as it was that good.

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  9. What a great idea! I've only ever used dukkah with olive oil and bread, or mixed with hummus.

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  10. Dukkah sounds like a versatile ingredient to have on hand! This crusted chicken and carrot salad both look wonderful. :)

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  11. Looks wonderful and indulgent! I would love to try it.

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  12. I've never heard of dukkah before. The ingredients for it are all the ones we love - and have in the kitchen all the time so we're definitely going to try this!
    I can see what you mean when you said Turkish cuisine has been influenced by Egyptian cuisine. We read a lot of food blogs and it's really interesting to see how all the foods of the Middle East and Eastern Europe have impacted on each other.

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  13. Another really interesting dish. I've not tried Dukkah before but really like the sound of it and I bet it makes a great crisp coating for the chicken. The salad looks extremely tasty too - I could eat a bowlful right now!

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  14. Never had Dukkah before but it sure sounds and looks good!!

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  15. Val, You created a great blend of flavors, textures and colors with this meal. And introduced to a couple of new recipes - good job!

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  16. Yours is a true virtual tour. I would love to take that class "eat like and Egyptian".

    The chicken looks fab and I love that carrot salad.

    See you in Nigeria, my friend.

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  17. Val: I read through your post twice trying to see if you told where to purchase the dukkah and then find it in the recipe (should have read all through the first time). The whole dish sounds so delicious that I want to make it. Thanks to you and Lazarro, I shall do so soon.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  18. It's a sweet show of support to combine recipes with current events. I know nothing of Egyptian cuisine but you have whetted my appetite. This is something to savor. Have this dish on my list.

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  19. I think this meal looks and sounds wonderful! I love trying new foods.

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  20. I'm sure this stop will be my favorite of this last tour. Hmm so delicious!

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  21. I've never heard of Dukkah until today, Val, but it sounds fantastic. :-) I love your idea of dipping in it with bread and olive oil. That would be perfection to me. :-)

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  22. I love that crust -- great combination of flavours and textures :)

    j

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  23. Val, I'm not sure my first comment made it through. I just wanted you to know that I like both the recipes you featured today. The carrot salad sounds delicious and the use of Dukkah as a coating is inspired. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  24. So delicious and flavorful, Val! I love it!

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  25. The spices, the crunch, I think I'd like dukkah crusted chicken

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  26. the components of dukkah are AMAZING! i'm practically tearful thinking of how long i've lived without knowledge of its existence. and wow, that salad is interesting and altogether appealing. hello, egypt!

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  27. Val, this looks so good. I have had dukkah in my pantry cupboard for a long time (it came free with some other spices), so this looks like the best way I have seen yet to use it.

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  28. Egypt has always been a fascination of mine, yet I know so little about it's food. It's always fun to stop by and see where your food travels take you, and this stop was great. I love carrot salad but have never had it warm. And the dukkah? Oh, my!

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  29. Good timing for this stop of the culinary tour for sure! Glad you liked both the dukkah-crusted chicken and the carrot raisin salad.

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  30. Sounds wonderful, I've made dukkah so this is another awesome presentation using it another way. Thanks for sharing.

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  31. Sounds deadly delicious, to me. I have heard a lot about this spice mix lately, and am dying to try it!
    YUM.
    Valerie

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  32. I agree about the oil, bread dukka combination - delicious. I also love the carrot salads of North Africa and the Middle East - this version is really appealing. Glad to travel to Egypt with you.

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  33. What a tasty way to enjoy some dukkah!

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Welcome to my home. Thank you so much for choosing to stay a while and for sharing our lives through food. I appreciate all your comments, suggestions, daily encouragement and support.

Val

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