Claudia Roden’s education started at an early age. Raised in Cairo, she grew up watching the women of her family pound lamb and wheat into kibbeh, and wrap delicate sheets of pastry around mashed dates. Over the years, she’s made her way into countless kitchens, from Turkey to Poland, Lebanon to Spain, and written several histories of Mediterranean cuisine, most recently, Arabesque: A Taste
- 6chicken quarters
- 4tablespoons peanut or sunflower oil
- 2large onions, 1 lb (500 g), coarsely chopped
- 2teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼teaspoon mace
- ¼teaspoon nutmeg
- 1tablespoon honey
- Salt and plenty of black pepper
- ½lb (250 g) dates, pitted
- Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
- A pinch of saffron
- ½cup (100 g) blanched almonds, toasted or fried
Yield: Serves 6
- Step 1
In a large pan, sauté the chicken pieces in the oil for a few minutes, until lightly colored, turning them over once.
- Step 2
Remove them and put the onions in. Cook them on low heat until soft, then stir in the cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and honey, and pour in about 1 3/4 cups (400 ml) of water. Stir well and put in the chicken pieces.
- Step 3
Bring to the boil, add salt and pepper, and simmer for 25 minutes.
- Step 4
Now add the dates, lemon juice, and saffron and cook for another 5—10 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. It is important to taste and adjust the seasoning, for the right balance of flavors is a delicate matter in this dish. It usually needs plenty of black pepper to counteract the sweetness. Serve with the almonds sprinkled on.