one of the things i always loved most about summer is riding a bike, not because you want to go from a to b, but because riding in itself means sheer pleasure. warm wind in your hair is a sensation that in my eyes easily translates to ‘freedom’. we haven’t been very lucky with the weather until now, so a bike tour was not on the list. but i got this freedom summer sensation once, during a walk home, i think when i looked at the very saturated, very green trees. and suddenly, without even wearing sandals (they’re still hidden in the deepest corners of my cupboard somewhere…) i just felt happy and light, like a fluffy cloud, like cotton candy and barbeques and nights spent outside, with hurricane candles burning (with that awesome, zesty, anti mosquito smell), your skin prickling from the sun, smelling of after-sun lotion… i have a vision of summer. i can smell it, i can feel it, i can taste it. i’ll embrace it when it’s finally here. welcome, summer, make me happy.
sure as hell, i’m going to buy a new bikini when in paris (eep!) next weekend, come rain or shine. i’ll be so ready for a boat trip! ha.
yoghurt marinated chicken with persian jeweled rice
both adapted from an old gu’s mezze cookbook
ingredients for the chicken:
500 g chicken breast filets
2 cups plain yoghurt
2 tbsp. curry
1 tbsp. turmeric
1 tbsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 nutsized drop of harissa
1 organic lemon, zest
1/2 lemon, juice
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. clarified butter (for frying)
1-2 tsp. fleur de sel
directions for the chicken:
wash the chicken under the running, cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. place in a sealable bowl. combine the yoghurt with the curry, turmeric, paprika, pepper, harissa, lemon zest and juice and olice oil. stir to combine. then marinate the chicken in the yoghurt for 12 hours (overnight). the next day, remove the chicken from the yoghurt and pat dry so that the filets are clean. put onto wooden skewers in a snakeline. heat gee in a large skillet, then fry a couple of skewers at a time, for about 2-3 minutes (until golden brown) on each side and season with salt. keep them covered with foil in the preheated, warm but not hot, oven until used.
ingredients for the jeweled rice:
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup plain rice
1/2 pomegranate, seeds
1/4 cup pistachios, lightly crushed
2 tbsp. dried barberries
2 tbsp. dried pomegranate seeds (optional)
3 tbsp. pine nuts
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
directions for the rice:
heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, then sweat the onion for 3-4 minutes until transluscent. add the rice, and sweat it for a minute or so. add two cups of water, add salt and bring to a boil. turn off the heat, cover with the lid and let steep for 20 minutes. in the meantime, prepare the ‘jewels’: deseed the pomegranate half, place in a bowl and add the crushed pistachios, barberries, dried pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and cilantro. this will all be mixed with the rice. when the rice is done, stir in the jewels until just combined.
assemble – just before serving
fill a little bowl with the rice mix, press firm, then turn upside down onto the plate. remove the bowl softly. add the 2-3 skewers on the plate and serve immediately.
note: this might not be the classic dish, as it clearly lacks ‘a sauce’, you will think… but the rice, prepared like this, is surprisingly moist and the nuts and berries and welcome flavor and tang. you’ll find that you won’t miss anything.
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