Gondi Nochodi

This recipe may look like Matzah ball soup, but it is actually a Jewish Persian dish, very popular among Persian Jews.  It is made of ground chicken and chickpeas.

Gondi, is perhaps the single most unique food to the Jews of Iran. While Persian Jews have over the centuries adopted the Persian cuisine in their kitchen (kosher style, of course), Gondi has been one of their few culinary innovations that they can claim as their own.

It is usually served as an appetizer together with Sabzi – raw green vegetables including tarragon, basil, mint, and radishes. In our home, we used to eat it as a main dish.

Ingredients:
5-6 oz roasted chickpea (found in Middle Eastern grocery stores)
1 lb ground chicken breast
2 large onions, shredded
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp black pepper
¼ cup canola oil or rendered chicken fat
4 tsp rose water (found in Middle Eastern grocery stores)
Homemade chicken soup (recipe follows) or 8 cups of good chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
In a food processor, grind the roasted chickpeas only until they turn into crumbs. Be careful not to over grind it. You don’t want chickpea flour. You may find chickpea already coarsely ground in Middle Eastern grocery stores. Do not buy chickpea flour. It is too powdery.

Place the chickpea crumbs in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients except for the chicken soup, and mix well by hand, until mixture is well combined.

In a large saucepan, bring the chicken soup to a boil. If needed, add salt and pepper.

Make plum size balls of the chickpea mixture, and add them gently, one by one, to the soup. If the balls stick to your hands, use a small bowl with water to wet your hands lightly.

Lower the heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes.

Place 1-2 balls in a soup bowl, add some soup and serve.

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Chicken soup

2 lb chicken bones (necks, backs) or other parts
8 cups water
1 large onion, quartered
1 small bunch cilantro
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch rings
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbs chicken soup powder

Place the chicken in a large saucepan. Cover with 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Using a large spoon, clean all the foam formed on the water.

Lower the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, cilantro, and spices and cook for about an hour, covered.

Discard of the cilantro. You may use the soup as is to cook the Gondi dumplings in, or you may strain it, and have a clear broth for the Gondi.

Gondi is served with a plate of fresh green herbs such as basil, tarragon, mint, and sliced radishes.IMG_2324

Yemenite Chicken Soup

One of the most precious memories of my childhood is Shabbat at my grandparents’ home, in Tel Aviv. After spending the afternoon together, preparing for Shabbat, grandma lit the Shabbat candles and we prepared the table for Friday night dinner. Everything was very simple and modest. The dishes were simple dishes, and the table wasn’t dressed. But it felt very much like Shabbat. The Challah was covered with a special cover, and the Kiddush wine and cup were ready for grandpa to recite the blessing. Dinner was very modest too and included Yemenite chicken or beef soup that was meant to last for both Friday night dinner and Shabbat lunch, white rice, Hilbah (fenugreek), Zhoug and Challah.

For years, my mother used to make her own version of the Yemenite chicken soup for lunch on Fridays, a reminiscent from her parents’ home. Up until today, Yemenite soup is one of my favorite Friday night dinners, though we don’t make it often enough.

This recipe, which calls for chicken, is my grandmother’s version on this yummy soup. Or more accurately, my grandpa’s. After my grandparents got married, grandpa realized that grandma, who was not Yemenite, did not know how to cook Yemenite food, so he taught her what he knew. Grandpa made the soup sometimes with beef and sometimes with chicken.

Ingredients:
4 chicken thighs skin on
6 chicken drumsticks skin on
4 medium potatoes peeled and sliced into 1” slices
2 medium tomatoes diced
1 medium onion quartered
1 tbs tomato paste
2 heaping tbs Hawaij spice for soup (found online)
1 tbs chicken soup powder
salt and pepper
small bunch cilantro, washed and cleaned

Preparation:
In a large pot, place the chicken and cover in water. Bring to a boil. Discard of the water and rinse the chicken lightly to rid of the blood and protein foam which result from the boiling.

Put the chicken back in the pot, cover with water again and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium and add the onion, potatoes, tomatoes, tomato paste, and the spices. Cook covered for about an hour. Add the cilantro at the end and turn off the heat.

If you rather make the soup with beef, use 2lb of beef shank meat cut into large pieces.

If you prefer the chicken version, you can use any part of the chicken, except for the breast.

Tas Kabab

Another dish from my childhood, Tas Kabab, is a wonderful Persian stew that I forgot about as I grew up and went about my life. My mother used to make it a lot and we loved it. I’m not sure if she learned it from my grandmother, but I don’t remember grandma making it in this version. It could very well be my mother’s interpretation. There are various recipes out there for Tas Kabab, with at least one that I would like to try and make one day, but I’ve decided to start with Mom’s recipe as it brings good memories.

I made it last week for my family and the feedback was so great that I’m making it again today.

And it was very easy to make, too. So, I guess we are adding a new dish to our home cooking repertoire.

Ingredients:
4 tbs oil
2 large onions, peeled
4 large potatoes, peeled
8 skinless chicken thighs, bone in
5 medium tomatoes
4 Omani limes
3tsp turmeric
Salt
Black pepper

Preparation:
Slice the onions, the potatoes and the tomatoes and place each one of them in a separate dish.

Heat the oil in a large pot. Arrange some of the onions at the bottom of the pot in one layer. Arrange a layer of the potatoes on top of the onion. Try to use as much of the potatoes as you can.

Place the Omani limes in a small Ziploc bag. Close the bag and smash the limes until coarsely smashed. Sprinkle half the amount on the potatoes in the pot.

Sprinkle the potatoes with 1 tsp turmeric, some salt and some black pepper.

Place the chicken thighs in a large bowl. Sprinkle 2 tsp turmeric, salt and pepper and rub it in well.

Arrange the thighs as the next layer in the pot.

Top with the rest of the onions, the sliced tomatoes and the rest of Omani lime.

Cover the pot, lower the heat to medium low and cook for 45 minutes. Then turn the chicken upside down, cover the pot and cook for 45 more minutes.

Serve with some good bread to dip in the sauce and enjoy.

Chicken in Orange juice and Tarragon

Lately, like most of us, I’ve been busy getting ready for the possibility that we may have to hunker down due to Covid-19. It is very stressful to try and think of everything we might need at home, plan my shopping trips to the stores in a way that I can get everything in one trip while trying to avoid everyone, and in addition, still go to work, keep my distance from my coworkers and smile and hang out as if all is normal. It’s exhausting!! When it came to cooking, that meant I didn’t want to spend time preparing anything special that required time or effort. I needed my time and my head clear for others matters. So this was the motivation behind this really surprisingly delicious dish.

This chicken recipe is so delicious and tastes so gourmet that I’m still surprised how easy it was to make it. I had chicken thighs waiting for me in the fridge and I knew I had to cook them before they go bad. I looked to see what I could through on the chicken quickly to give it some flavor. I had in the fridge half an onion and some tarragon leaves that started to look tired. I decided to chop the onion and the tarragon and add to that juice, pulp and zest from one orange. Put it all in a Ziploc bag with the chicken, marinated for half an hour, then roasted it in the oven. Piece of cake… and the result was amazing! I will surely make this dish again.

Ingredients:
2 ½ lb boneless chicken thighs
Juice from one orange with the pulp
Zest from one orange
1 medium red onion, diced
½ cup chopped tarragon
2 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

Preparation:
Place all ingredients in a gallon size Ziploc bag, close the bag and shake well until chicken is fully coated with the marinade. Keep refrigerated for 30-60 minutes.


Turn oven to 375F.
Place chicken thighs on a baking sheet and cover with the marinade.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Did I say delicious!!!?

Chicken and Potatoes In the Oven

We usually associate a festive meal with a lot of work and money. We want to impress our family and friends, and come up with something special that is not part of our usual menu. We spend a lot of time looking for just the right recipe that would impress, be delicious, and is different from what we’re used to. But who says the dish has to be complicated and expensive? Sometimes the answer is to turn ordinary ingredients into a beautiful dish without much effort. The following recipe does just that. All it calls for are chicken, potatoes, and sweet potatoes – not very exotic, right? But look how impressive and yummy it looks when you serve it. I can assure you no one at the table will complain (except for vegetarians).

The recipe below is good for one chicken, but as you can see from the pictures, I doubled it to accommodate the large company we had over.

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
5 medium potatoes
3 medium sweet potatoes
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tbs paprika
1 tbs chicken flavor soup powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp papper
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp salt (for the potatoes)
1 oven bag (found in every supermarket)

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400F.

Rinse the chicken and discard of the giblets (sometimes it all comes in one bag, easy to dispose).

sauce
covered chicken

In a large bowl mix all the spices (use only 1 tsp salt). Add the chicken and rub it with the spice mix inside and out, making sure you cover the whole chicken with spices. Place the chicken in the bag.

potatoes

Peel the potatoes and sweet potatoes and cut them into 1” thick slices. Place them in the un-rinsed large bowl, add the onion, olive oil and 1 tsp salt, and mix well. The potatoes will be covered with some of the spice mix that was left in the bowl from the chicken. Add the potatoes to the bag, and arrange nicely around and under the chicken.

ready to bake

Seal the bag using the string provided with the bag. Using a knife, pierce two holes on the top of the bag, to let the steam out. Place the bag on a baking pan and bake in the preheated oven for about one and a half hours. Remove the pan from the oven. Using a knife, cut the top of the bag open, then return the pan to the oven to brown for 10-15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and place on a nice serving dish with a rim (to collect the sauce). discard of the bag and place the whole chicken on top of the potatoes

This dish goes well with a salad composed of green leaves and lettuce, and dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

Bon Appetit!

baked

Homemade Shawarma

Yesterday, I took out some boneless chicken thighs from the freezer, to cook for lunch today (lunch at our house is the main meal of the day). This morning I looked at the meat for a while, debating if I wanted to marinate it in something, but couldn’t come up with anything that didn’t involve a bunch of dirty dishes.

Then, out of the blue, I was thinking that boneless thighs are the perfect meat for shawarma, a Middle Eastern street food originated in Turkey. Shawarma is basically a sandwich composed of meat (chicken, turkey, or lamb) that is grilled and then eaten shredded in pita bread. The traditional way of making shawarma requires a special skewer, on which the meat is layered together with fat and spices. The skewer is positioned vertically in front of a grill that slowly cooks the meat, while the skewer turns. The meat is then sliced thinly as it cooks, and put in pita bread with different vegetables and condiments.

Shawarma is not one of the dishes people usually make at home, although shawarma spice mix is something you can find in every supermarket in Israel. I’ve tried to make it at home a few times, or more accurately, I used the right meat and the right spices, but that’s where the resemblance ended. I would sauté a lot of onion in a pan and then add the meat that I cut into little cubes and the spices, and let is cook covered on very low heat. The result was very yummy, but it wasn’t real shawarma.

This morning, though, I had an epiphany. Real shawarma requires chicken thighs, some animal fat, and shawarma spice mix. Well, I had chicken thighs that were super fatty with all the fat on them. And I had the spice mix. But this time, I wanted to try and roast or bake the thighs, so that they become like the real deal.

I sprinkled the thighs with shawarma mix (you can make on your own ahead of time) and salt, and placed them on a baking sheet covered with tin foil. I preheated the oven to convection bake at 375F, and baked the thighs for 30 minutes on one side. Then flipped them over and baked for 5 more minutes. Perfection!! This is exactly what I was hoping to get!!

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I got so excited that I decided to go for it all the way. I sliced each thigh thinly, warmed up some frozen pita bread, made fresh tahini (takes 2 minutes to make), sliced some tomatoes, onion and parsley, and called everyone to the table. The kids couldn’t believe how authentic it tasted and finished everything to the last bite.

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Doron also enjoyed it very much, in his paleo way.

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Homemade Shawarma

Ingredients:
2 lb boneless chicken thighs, fat on
Shawarma spice mix
4 pita bread
Tahini paste
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4-5 sprigs flat parsley, leaves only
Sumac for sprinkling

Preparation:
Cover a baking sheet with tin foil, and preheat oven to 375F.

Coat the chicken thighs with the shawarma spice and sprinkle some additional salt if needed.

Place the thighs in one layer on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Flip the chicken over and bake for another 5 minutes. The chicken should look roasted and dry. If there is still liquid in the pan, keep baking for a little longer. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.

Slice the baked thighs into thin strips.

Composing the sandwich:
Cut each pita bread in half, spread with tahini paste, and fill with as much chicken as desired. Top with sliced tomato, parsley and onion. You can also sprinkle some sumac on top, to make it even more authentic.

Yum!!!