Thursday, 14 May 2015

Sumac Roast Chicken

Hello, dear readers! I feel I've been in a bit of a daydream lately. The weather has been all over the place, for starters. This whole week, the skies have been so bright and the sun blazing, that it was as though summer had come early. And then suddenly, Thursday was grey and it rained about a whole month's worth of rain! I do like the rain, and I firmly believe it's a blessing from my Lord, but I like to be in the comfort of my own home, wrapped in numerous layers and not trudging around with wet socks....

Recently, I was contacted on behalf of Aafiyah, an up and coming halal poultry brand, who offered me the opportunity to try out their new range. According to their website, their brand is aiming to provide quality products to traditional Muslims with a busy, modern lifestyle. When I heard that, I thought, yep, that's me (this exhausted teacher slept for 10 hours in total last night, guys). They have a range of frozen poultry products, some of which are ready prepared, and all you need to do is throw them into the oven. So I bring you today one of the recipes I put together using Aafiyah's products.

I discovered Sumac last year in the world foods section of my local supermarket and I have totally fallen in love with the stuff. I think to date, it is probably my favourite Middle Eastern flavouring. It has a sour taste, similar to citrus fruits, however, it also has these floral undertones that you would never be able to get lemon alone. The other amazing thing that I love about it, is its vibrant colour. Any food item which mixes with it turns into this beautiful deep rosy hue, and due to its texture, it creates a crispy crunch on poultry and meat when it is roasted or grilled.

Other than the time needed to marinade the chicken, this is pretty much a throw things together in a bowl then shove it in the oven kind of recipe, so very low maintenance. Totally my favourite type of recipe. It is recommended to marinade chicken from 1 hour to overnight. If I'm honest, you can get away with marinading this recipe for just under an hour as the Sumac comes through well.

Sumac Roast Chicken 

Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 35-40 minutes

500g Aafiyah original Drumsticks
1 tablespoon Sumac
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

1) Pre-heat oven to 180ยบC.

2) In a bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and spices. Add chicken and stir to combine in mix. Leave to marinade for at least 1 hour.

3) Place marinated chicken on an oven tray and roast in over for 35-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Check that its cooked through by piercing the chicken at its thickest part next to the bone. The juice should run clear.

4) Finish the chicken off either on a cast iron griddle on the stove or under a grill for 5-10 minutes, until the skin of the chicken is crispy and slightly charred. Turn the chicken over halfway through the cooking time to char other side.

5) Serve with potato wedges and grilled corn.

*Disclosure: This post contains sponsored links*

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Brodu and Pastizzi

Huzzah, I finally managed to get a post in for MENA cooking club! I officially joined about 2 months ago, but due to facepalm fails circumstances (getting the date wrong for the Lebanon challenge and adding too much salt for the sfinz in the Libyan challenge), I am only getting around to my first challenge now for Malta.

I will admit, I was a little confused at first when I saw that the country was Malta, as it is a European country, but some quick research soon revealed that like many others countries, including the South Asian countries, Malta has had some historical influence from the Middle East in its culture.

As a lover of soup, I decided to try out the classic Maltese vegetable Brodu. I added wholegrain fussili pasta, and being a typical desi, added a teaspoon of crushed chilli to add a little bit of heat. It definitely had a kick to it! I'm not sure if Maltese cuisine has a lot of spice, but you can of course omit for a milder soup. 

Aside the heat from the chilli, the soup itself was delicious with a depth of flavour that was surprising consider how simple the broth was. 

From the light and simple soup, I also tried making the slightly more decadent pastizzi. I guess it's like a Mediterranean version of pasties, and let's be honest, who doesn't like puff pastry and cheese together?! As the ricotta cheese I bought was a little runny, I decided to add some chopped spinach. However, due to the addition of the egg, the actual filling quickly solidifies in the oven. Even though puff pastry is quite rich, the light nature of the filling meant that it doesn't taste too heavy.

Also, I must admit, as I was shaping the pastizzi, I thought they looked a little unattractive. But the wonderful thing about puff pastry is that it is ever so forgiving, and after a transformation in the oven, it always comes out looking golden and inviting.

Out of laziness, I decided to make these pastizzi quite large in size, I'm not sure what the traditional size is. You could enjoy 1 or 2 with some salad for a light lunch. We enjoyed it as an appetizer with some chilli sauce in our home. Yes we are totally typical desis!

Friday, 8 May 2015

Tahini, Almond and Honey Cookies

Hello, dear readers! It has been a while. I was recently ill for about a week and didn't quite have the energy to blog. On top of that, I think I underestimated how long it would take for me to settle into the new term at work. Quite frankly, this summer term has had me whipped so far! But all is not lost, and I am back today with a new post.

Remember how I mentioned how I often have things sitting around in the pantry (I know, I know, terrible habit)? Well, I've had a jar of tahini sitting in the cupboard for a while now. I originally bought it to make hoummus, but my versions never tasted quite as good as the restaurant kind, so I never really put it to good use. But I'm trying use up things before buying more ingredients, mainly because we really don't have any space left in out kitchen cupboards! So I racked my brain and the internet for tahini recipes. Initially I saw quite a few savoury recipes, but then I came across quite a few tahini cookie recipes. At first I thought it was a bit weird sounding. In my head, I have come to associate tahini with hoummous, so when I heard of tahini cookies, I just kept thinking of hoummous flavoured cookies. Hardly appealing.

But I realised that, you know, it's just like a sesame version of peanut butter, which I've already used to make cookies. And then I remembered eating sesame snaps as a kid, which were basically shards of seasame brittle. So I thought, what they hey, let's try them out!

With all that drama, you can imagine my surprise when the cookies actually turned rather yummy in the end. Soft, with a slightly cakey texture, these subtly nutty cookies have a fudgey taste that comes from the use of brown sugar and honey. 

You could make these cookies completely gluten free by only using almond flour, however, I decided to use a mix of almond and all purpose flour. 

I adapted this recipe by kind of amalgamating recipes from Umm Hamza at Halal Home Cooking and An Edible Mosaic