Arabic Chicken with Pasta
There are certain things in life that should never be mixed: the grape and the grain, metaphors, red and green (without a colour in between), Liz Hurley and Shane Warne (still not getting that!) On a culinary level, I would say the combination of chicken and pasta should also be avoided: while each is delicious and comforting in its own way, together they make for a bland, uninteresting, white, pale and pasty plate of nothingness. Ugh.
That said, when I spotted that Claudia Roden, one of my favourite cookery writers, had a recipe for exactly that combination in her spectacular book Tamarind & Saffron, I was intrigued. Claudia would never let me down, surely? And you know what? Not only is this recipe ridiculously easy, it’s delicious: delicately-flavoured, comforting and sophisticated, not to mention incredibly more-ish.
The pasta used looks like long grains of rice and is called Birds’ Tongues in Arabic. In my supermarket it’s known as Avena , while Claudia Roden refers to Pastine Graniamo . If you can’t find either, you could always try broken up bits of vermicelli.
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To serve two, you'll need:
One medium-sized onion, chopped
One tbsp sunflower oil
Two chicken pieces
Two cloves of garlic, sliced
One teaspoon ground cinnamon
One teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
salt and pepper
200g/7oz Avena pasta
Here's what you do:
In a large pan, fry the onion in the oil. Add the chicken, garlic and spices and stir. Pour in about ¾ pint water and simmer for half an hour to forty minutes, adding more water if you need to. Add the pasta and more water, if necessary. Simmer for another 15 minutes or so until the pasta is cooked through – it should be soft, not al dente.
I hope you enjoy this unlikely combination as much as I do!
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