In this recipe tender chicken pieces are arranged on Lebanese hashweh, a rice-meat mixture, full of Middle Eastern aromas, and adorned with golden toasted nuts. The taste and presentation glorify it into a star dish on special occasions. There is no rule in this world, however, that prevents it from appearing on a weekly menu. The fact that the chicken or the hashweh can be prepared each alone as a separate dish makes this recipe a winner. Each is a one-pot dish loaded with the sweet and warm flavors of cinnamon and allspice. Combined together in this dish they shine, dazzling your taste buds with an enjoyable richness and crunch.
The smell of cinnamon and allspice while cooking the chicken will be enough to bring you back home if you are a transplanted Lebanese like myself. I love this sweet smell as it reminds me so much of my grandmother and her special dish of fried chicken served with her famous lemony and garlicky gravy. You will find the recipe of “Djaj ala Tarikit Sitti” (Fried Chicken my Grandmother’s Style) in my cookbook. However, the way to prepare the chicken is basically like the one in this recipe; the only difference is what you do with the chicken stock after cooking. You can cook rice, burghul and freekeh in it or use it to make creamy and tasteful gravy like my grandmother.
When preparing the hashweh alone, try to have chicken or meat stock at hand. This will add to it a deep rich flavor. For that ultimate chicken stock check shorbet djej on my blog.
Another important step is to soak the rice for at least 10 minutes before adding it to the browned meat. Here you can use your favorite rice. Parboiled rice has never disappointed me for instance, and all my rice dishes turn out very fluffy and presentable.
Toasting the nuts in oil before browning the meat with the aromatic spices in the same pot add a welcome nuttiness to the hashweh.
When the meat is cooked and done, and the sweet smells fill your kitchen, mix in the drained rice, sprinkle a little of the same warm spices and pour in the hot flavorful stock. Let cook under medium low heat until water has completely evaporated. Remove pot from fire; Keep covered and undisturbed for at least 10 minutes.
Arrange on a platter with chicken on top (when making the full recipe), garnish with nuts, and serve with a dollop of yoghurt. I think by now you should be able to imagine what burst of flavors to expect!
Riz a djej – Chicken with Rice and Meat
- 1.5 kg Chicken breasts and legs
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Half a lemon
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 60 g clarified butter or butter
- 1250 ml hot water
- 60 ml sunflower oil
- 60 g pine nuts
- 60 g blanched almond halves
- 500 g minced lamb or beef
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 400 g Parboiled Rice rinsed and soaked in cold water for 10 minutes, drained
- 500 ml from the chicken stock
- 400 ml hot water
- 500-1000 ml plain yoghurt to serve
- Clean the chicken from any extra fat and wash over a colander with cold water. Rub with the 2 teaspoons salt and the half lemon, and then wash them out again with cold water. Add the salt and the spices to the chicken and mix well.
- Heat the clarified butter in the pot over medium-high heat and brown the chicken on both sides for about 5 minutes each. Pour in the water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 35 minutes. Debone the chicken and keep warm in the pot for later use.
- Heat the oil in the large pot over medium heat heat and fry the pine nuts, stirring all the time, for about 3 minutes or until golden in colour. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate for later use. Subsequently fry the almond halves for 3 minutes and remove onto a plate for later use.
- Add the meat and the spices to the pot and cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes until the meat is done, stirring constantly. Mix in the drained rice and pour in the 500 ml of the chicken stock and the 400 ml hot water. Adjust the seasoning to taste if necessary. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, over low heat for about 20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Spread Hashweh over the platter, cover with the chicken and garnish with the nuts. Serve immediately with some yoghurt on the side.