We’re all guilty of spice hoarding. Deep in the back of your spice cabinet is something you don’t use – cloves, mace, in my case, cinnamon. And then there’s the stuff you see at specialty markets, thinking you’ll find a day when you need that exotic-named, richly-colored powder you’d never heard of before.
To get ready to make machboos, I had to take a trip to Southwest Portland, and to World Foods on Barbur Boulevard. This little store packs a big punch in the ingredient department, home to hundreds of things I’ve never bought before, and possibly the best pita bread in Portland.I sat and stared at the spice aisle, planning my attack – well, they had baharat, which this recipe called for making fresh, so I picked that up. And they had green cardamom pods, which I find myself needing just about any time I make a Middle Eastern dish. Picked up some rose water, because why not?
But where was the loomi – dried limes? I looked high, low, and everywhere in between before breaking down and asking a staffer if they had it.
Sure enough, over in the produce section, behind the prickly pears and next to the freezer case with the alligator meat, there were two types of dried limes, ready to be put into machboos.
Of course, that was only half the ingredient battle. Thankfully, the other half was closer to home – pulling fresh tomatoes and peppers from my backyard garden. This time of year is great, if only for the easy access to delicious, fresh produce.
Here’s how I made machboos, with a hat tip to the Daring Gourmet for the base recipe.
- 1 large onion
- 3 Tb ghee
- 1 Tb baharat
- 1 ts turmeric
- 2 ts vegetable oil
- 2 1/3 pounds of marinaded chicken chunks (store-bought skewers, in my case)
- 1 hot green chile, seeded and diced
- 1 Tb fresh ginger, minced
- 5 large cloves or garlic, thinly sliced
- 3 garden tomatoes, diced
- 3 dried limes (loomi), several holes punched throughout each one
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 1/8 ts ground cloves
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 1/2 ts salt
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups basmati rice
- Rosewater for sprinkling
- Prep your ingredients: Chop the onion, set aside. Combine ginger, garlic and green pepper in one bowl. Combine baharat and turmeric in another bowl. Combine tomatoes, loomi, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves in another bowl.
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and fry the chicken pieces on both sides until the skin is brown and crispy. Transfer the chicken to a plate and leave the remaining oil in the cast iron skillet.
- Add the ghee, reduce the heat to medium and fry the onions until starting to brown, about 10-12 minutes.
- Add the ginger, garlic, and green chile pepper and saute for another 2 minutes.
- Add the baharat and turmeric and cook for another minute.
- Return the chicken pieces to the cast iron skillet along with the tomatoes, dried limes, cardamom pods, cinnamon and cloves. Add the chicken stock and stir to combine. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for one hour.
- Add rice and stir to combine. Return it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for another 15-20 minutes until the rice is done and has absorbed the liquid. Stir every 5 minutes.
- If rice is still dry, add another cup of boiling water and cook longer.
- Transfer the chicken and rice to a serving dish (either leave the chicken pieces tossed in with the rice, or place the chicken on top of the rice), and sprinkling with 1-2 tablespoons of rosewater.