Feast, Pray, Love are three words that best describe what my life is all about…I celebrate through feasting and when I pray, it isn’t with a long list of things I need or want, it’s to be thankful…taking time to count every one of my blessings which makes me love life more everyday. Love…the most beautiful gift of all, what would life be without those we love and treasure!
Whether I am working, doing a show, or just being with my family…I feast, I pray and I love fiercely! The idea of putting together the ‘FPL’ section to my blog has been on my mind for ages, like coffee…my ideas keep percolating! Through my journey, highs and lows….I am learning to be kind to myself and forgiving too.
I love to travel, see new places and experience different cultures…on the 15th May this year, just a stroke past midnight, I was tapped lightly on my shoulder by an air hostess on SAA, waking me up to my birthday and a bottle of Taittinger Rose…it was a toast to new beginnings and what better way to kick off a new year with an adventure in London…with an exciting new project on the cards, the city was my oyster. I threw back my champagne and fell into the most delicious sleep.
I had a bit of free time and took a walk down Kensington’s High Street which led me to a little pocket of Iranian supermarkets, green grocers and restaurants. I love Iranian food and Jozi seems to have lost Apadana, the only place I knew that made a good Fesenjun…which is chicken cooked in pomegranate molasses and walnuts. There is also an Apadana restaurant in Kensington. I popped into Zaman, the Iranian Supermarket…the store is crammed with everything from fresh and dried fruit, Persian sweets like cashew nut baklava, macaroons and something that looks like Indian jalebi to Iranian caviar…and spices. The Iranian community are pedantic about the quality of dried fruit, nuts and the saffron is fabulous.
The Iranian stores seem to be more like old-fashioned family run businesses. The fresh fruit display outside the store is inviting, colourful and very old school….bright pomegranate rubies are sold in little cups which make the perfect walkabout snack. There are also persian peaches, glossy deep coloured cherries, fresh herbs and veggies. For a Persian experience outside Iran, I recommend taking a stroll through this part of Kensington, it’s not only a feast for food explorers but for the eyes too!
I have been working on recipes for the Post Newspaper’s with Ramadan in mind and it’s the perfect opportunity to splash out with my saffron…here is my version of a Persian dish called Koresht-e-Mast which is chicken cooked with yoghurt and saffron. How can I best describe this dish…it’s almost a curry and also described as a Persian stew…a stew??? This is way too exotic and fragrant to be compared to stew…cumin, coriander, red chilli, teamed with fresh orange juice and finished with yoghurt. The dish is lightly spiced, aromatic and creamy. I used the Spar branded double thick yoghurt for this recipe as I find this one doesn’t split or curdle.
Persian style Chicken – Koresht-e Mast
Serves 6 – 8
2,5ml saffron strands
50ml boiled water
1,6kg chicken thighs and drumsticks
45ml sunflower oil
1 bay leaf
2 onions, finely sliced
3 celery sticks, thinly sliced
10ml crushed ginger
10ml crushed garlic
10ml red chilli powder
10ml ground cumin
10ml ground coriander
2,5ml ground cardamom
500ml boiled water
2 stock cubes
Juice of 1 orange
6 sprigs fresh thyme
200ml Spar Double Thick Greek yoghurt
30ml cold water
20ml Magic Masala, if you have…this is from my Curry Me Home range of spice
Sunflower oil, to brown chicken
Black pepper, to season
Fresh thyme to garnish
Heat the saffron strands in a dry pan or microwave for a few seconds.
Crush the saffron using your fingertips and place in a little bowl.
Pour the boiled water over the saffron and leave aside to infuse.
Heat the sunflower oil in a 30cm AMC Gourmet Roaster.
Add the bay leaf and fry until fragrant.
Add the sliced onions with the salt and saute until pale golden in colour.
Stir the celery sticks into the fried onion and saute until they soften.
Add the crushed ginger and garlic.
Place the chicken into the fried onion and stir well to coat.
Sprinkle the red chilli, ground cumin, coriander and cardamom over the chicken pieces.
Stir well to coat, pour in the boiled water and crumble the stock cubes into the pot.
Pour in the orange juice, add the fresh sprigs of thyme and saffron liquid.
Lower the heat and simmer until the chicken is tender.
Remove the chicken from the pan.
Heat an AMC 28cm Chef’s Pan and grease with non stick spray.
Place the cooked chicken in the pan with the skin side down, turning them often to ensure they brown evenly.
Remove from the pan once they are golden brown.
Whisk the yoghurt with egg and water.
Important step: Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the yoghurt mixture while whisking the sauce continuously – this prevents the sauce from splitting.
Add the Magic Masala – if you have some!
Simmer on low until the sauce thickens and then return the brown chicken to the pot.
Once the chicken heats through, season with black pepper and garnish with fresh thyme.
Serve with steamed basmati or pilau rice.