I spent much of my childhood on my grandmother’s farm in Beypazari Turkey, so you can imagine everything we ate, dressed in, and lived with was influenced by history, and this dish is inspired by my ancestors the Mongols. The recipe really began as a soy chicken broth, sugar and cornstarch dish and evolved over time more through the availability – or lack thereof – of ingredients. I prefer this evolved version that uses pomegranate, apricot and sherry vinegar as the base flavours.
Either way, it’s always been a very slow-cooked, luscious dish in which the chicken is cooked first and a dressing (rather than a cooked sauce) is poured over while it’s still warm - straight from the wood-fired (or home) oven.
For the chicken:
What you’ll need:
Approximately 1.8kg chicken pieces (or enough for six people) with bones (eg. Maryland, thighs)
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp smoky paprika
1 tbsp cumin seeds, par crushed
Set oven to 130 – 140 degrees Celsius.
Coat the chicken in the vegetable oil and then sprinkle over equal parts of thyme, sweet smoky paprika and par crushed cumin seeds.
Slow roast in a heavy pot (using a lid or tinfoil to cover). Depending on the size of the chicken pieces and if they have bones (bones will take a little longer), cook for about 1½ to 2 hours.
For the dressing:
What you’ll need:
¾ cup pomegranate molasses
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
¼ cup coriander, washed and finely chopped
½ cup dried apricots, very finely diced
¼ cup fresh mint, washed and very finely chopped
2 tiny hot red peppers, very finely chopped (according to taste)
¼ cup pine nuts, pre-cooked until golden
2 tabs sherry vinegar
2 tabs fresh lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
Sea salt and crushed black pepper (according to taste)
¼ cup preserved lemon slices, cut finely into julienne strips for garnish
Combine all the dressing ingredients except the preserved lemon and set aside.
When the chicken is ready, serve in colourful earthenware bowls and pour the dressing over whilst its hot.
Top with the preserved lemon slices and you are set!
Kemal has put his cooking classes on hold (his wife is having a baby!), but will be resuming his monthly weekend classes, which will include the Mongolian chicken recipe, in 2014.
Lezzet Modern Turkish Cuisine
77-81 Brighton Road, Elwood
(03) 9531 7733