I'm diving into my Delia's Winter Collection: 150 Recipes for Winter, which I have had for 15 years! My cousin and close friend Janet gave it to me when we were both in London. I'm sure she was hoping that it would inspire me then and she'd be coming over to my flat for wonderful meals. Sadly, this was not the case. I loved it, but at that time wasn't digging into recipes books like I am now, and spent more time eating out than in. It was almost like it was too good for me, too beyond me, like I admired it but was a bit afraid to delve into it. This blog gives me a chance to showcase it a bit (along with my growing collection of cookbooks). Now I'm in Vancouver and she's in Tasmania, so it's not so easy to have her over for dinner. It's a reminder to not take having people we care about for granted when they are close at hand. The years go by and whether it's geography or life in general, people move, and sharing meals together isn't an option very often then.
I took the recipe and used it as my starting point, my base if you like, and you can do the same here. You could easily make this vegetarian, and add a few more vegetables (next time I'm going to add eggplant and zucchini and skip the chicken). What was the standout for me? The gorgeous, lemony flavour that had me wanting to drink all of the liquid and had me eating a second serving I really didn't need. For my husband it was the olives. He liked this dish so much he finished his first serving and then was eating out of the casserole dish with his spoon. One comment he made that stuck with me was "There are slices of lemon in here!"
The original recipe calls for green and black olives - I chose to use kalamata olives. Saffron and wine are a few other ingredients I did not use. I squeezed the lemon over the dish before mixing everything together thoroughly. I usually include some sort of dried fruit in any Moroccan-inspired dishes. Here I didn't and it didn't suffer - but next time I will. Dried apricots would be my personal preference, but chopped dates or prunes, even some raisins would be interesting inclusions in this dish. I added carrots and green lentils. Puy lentils would be another lentil that would work well here - and hold it's firmness. The green lentils were great, but got a little lost with everything else. The dark green colour of Puy lentils would add a nice visual element too.
This makes for top-notch leftovers and for any readers that are parents, my one year old Scarlet liked this too, olives and all.
- 8 drumsticks and thighs or a mixture of these and chicken breasts (I used half chicken thighs and chicken breasts)
- 4 oz (110 g) dried chickpeas
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup dried green lentils
- 2 to 3 carrots, chopped or sliced
- 6 oz (175 g) brown basmati rice
- 2 fresh chilies, halved, de-seeded and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) coriander seeds
- 2 bunches fresh cilantro
- 2 lemons (one for squeezing and 1/2 to 1 for slicing)
- 2 yellow bell peppers (or a mixture - I used yellow and orange)
- 2 large onions, peeled and cut into medium-size pieces
- 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 10 fl oz (275 ml) carton chicken stock (or 15 oz/440 ml if not using wine)
- 5 fl oz (150 ml) dry white wine
- 4 oz (100 g) olives (green, black, or kalamata)
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
Place the chickpeas in a bowl, cover with cold water and soak overnight or for about 8 hours. Alternatively, place the chickpeas into a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let them sit for three hours. When you are pulling the other elements of this recipe together you will need to simmer the chickpeas for 20 minutes or until they are tender, regardless of which method you use. In a hurry? You could use a medium-sized can of chickpeas. Add the lentils for the last ten minutes of the cooking time. Both the lentils and chickpeas will have more cooking time when the entire dish cooks further in the oven.
Chop the garlic cloves, set aside.
Slice 1/2 to 1 whole lemon. Set aside.
Slice the chilies in half, deseed and chop. Set aside.
Measure the rice. Rinse well and set aside
Place a small saucepan or frying pan over medium heat and add the coriander and cumin seeds. Toss them around for approximately 3 to 4 minutes until they start to change colour. Transfer them to a pestle and mortar and crush them coarsely.
Season the chicken breasts, legs or thighs. Place 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil in a saucepan, Dutch oven or flameproof casserole of your choice, over medium high heat. When it's hot, add the chicken and brown on all sides. Remove the chicken and set aside.
While the chicken is browning, slice the peppers in half. Remove the seeds and pith. Slice the halves into large pieces.
Slice the onions in pieces about the same size as the peppers.
Heat 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil in the same saucepan, Dutch oven or flameproof casserole dish as you used for the chicken. When this is hot again, add the onions and peppers and cook them until soft, about five minutes. Turn the heat to medium.
While the peppers and onions are cooking, slice the tops of the cilantro off and set aside. Finely chop the stalks. Add the stalks to the peppers and onions.
If you will not be cooking this in the oven with the same casserole dish you used for the stovetop cooking, transfer the peppers, onions and cilantro stalks to the dish that will be going into the oven now.
Add the garlic, chilies, coriander and cumin, chickpeas and rice. Stir thoroughly.
Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a bowl or measuring cup. Pour into the casserole dish with the other ingredients, using a colander to catch the pits.
Add the stock and wine (if using). Stir well.
Add the lemon slices and olives (sliced or whole) on top.
Place the chicken on top.
Cover with a lid and place in the preheated oven for one hour (or until the rice and chick peas are tender).
Remove from oven and add the cilantro leaves on top. Serve.