Dukkah-Crusted Chicken Scaloppine
with Warm Carrot-Raisin Salad
and Shallot Cream
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
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
1 whole boneless chicken breast
Extra-virgin olive oil
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
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.
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