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Persian Fried Chicken

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 14 January 2016 at 19:47

Persian Fried Chicken


From  Spice: Flavors of The Eastern Mediterranean , by Ana Sortun, 2006


Ingredients


1/2 teaspoon saffron

2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons paprika

1 tablespoon dried mint

1 tablespoon salt, more for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Oil for frying

1 cup walnut pieces

1 lemon, cut into wedges


Preparation


In a small bowl, combine saffron with 1 tablespoon water and let soak 10 minutes. Place in food processor with yogurt and garlic and purée until smooth and yellow. Place chicken in glass or ceramic bowl; pour yogurt mixture on top, turn to coat; cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.


In a medium bowl, combine flour, paprika, mint, salt and pepper. Heat a generous half-inch oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Drop in a bit of bread to test temperature; oil should bubble vigorously. Working in batches to avoid crowding, dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, then fry until golden brown on both sides, about 7 minutes a side. Remove and drain on paper towels.


Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately, topped with walnuts and lemon wedges.



Related Links:


http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/9308-persian-fried-chicken


http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/21/dining/21chef.html?_r=0

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 February 2016 at 19:04

I recently received word from Brook that he had tried this recipe - here are some of his notes on it:


Originally posted by Brook Brook wrote:


The chicken was delicious!


I had to make some minor changes. We didn’t have any thighs handy, so instead we used skinless & boneless breasts - rather large ones---one of them made two servings. The marinade and breading were spread across six of those, for 12 servings. Each breast with pounded slightly, so as to even their thickness; otherwise, the tapered end gets overcooked. I would guess that they wound up about a half-inch thick.


Also, we didn’t have any lemons around, so I used limes instead.


After marinating for several hours, I wiped most of the marinade off the breasts, dipped them in the flour mixture, and fried as per Sortun’s instructions. When done, there was more than half of both the marinade and the flour mixture left over. I served the chicken sautéed Napa cabbage, which worked very well.


The dark meat of thighs would have brought an additional flavor level to the dish, but I was fully satisfied with how the recipe worked with the breasts.


Using thighs, I believe that the marinade and flour mix would be more than sufficient for 16 or more large thighs, with some of each left over.


On all counts, this recipe is a keeper. Give it a try.


After a description like that, I knew that I must be giving this a try, soon.


During the course of our discussions on this dish, a couple of questions came up. The first was that I got to wondering if the chicken thighs should be scored across the grain, much the same as I did with my Tandoori Murg preparation last year:


http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/tandoori-murg_topic4451.html


My thinking was that Persia was a close neighbor, both geographically and - to some extent - culturally; consequently, it crossed my mind that the same practice might be found in both regions.


I researched a bit, and the photos that I found of “Persian” or “Iranian” chicken preparations showed one or two instances where the chicken was scored; but in most cases, they were not. Noteworthy is that in many photos, the chicken had been cut into chunks and prepared as kebobs.


Brook agreed that scoring the thighs was not likely to be an essential aspect of this dish, on the grounds that with boneless and skinless thighs, the marinade would not need any help getting into the chicken - especially if left to marinate overnight.


The other question that came up involved Brook’s adaptation of the recipe, using limes rather than lemons - because that’s what he had on hand. I congratulated him on his versatility and remarked that - if my memory was correct - limes might ultimately be more in line with the Persian theme, as I seemed to remember reading somewhere that limes had been native to Persia since time immemorial. For some reason, I was under the impression that lemons had come along later. Brook replied that - as he recalls - the opposite was true; that lemons originated in Persia, and that limes had been introduced long afterwards. Brook went on to opine that sour oranges (otherwise known as bitter or Seville oranges) should work just as well, and that any of the three would nicely compliment the yogurt and spices in the recipe.


It should be made clear at this point that either lemons or limes - or sour oranges, for that matter - would be very appropriate for this recipe, not only in terms of the flavour profile, but also where historical or cultural accuracy is concerned. This “twist in the plot” was really more of a parlor discussion than anything; however….


The discussion got me to wondering, so I did some brief research on the topic. Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about the origin of limes:


Originally posted by Wikipedia Wikipedia wrote:


A lime (from Arabic and French lim) is a hybrid citrus fruit.... There are several species of citrus trees whose fruits are called limes, including the Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia), Persian lime, kaffir lime, and desert lime....Plants with fruit called "limes" have diverse genetic origins; limes do not form a monophyletic group….


Limes were first grown on a large scale in southern Iraq and Persia, and the fruit was first grown commercially in what is today southern Iraq (Babylonia).


Lime is an ingredient of many cuisines from India, and many varieties of pickles are made, e.g. sweetened lime pickle, salted pickle, and lime chutney..... Lime pickles are an integral part of Indian cuisine. South Indian cuisine is heavily based on lime; having either lemon pickle or lime pickle is considered an essential of Onam Sadhya.... The use of dried limes (called black lime or loomi) as a flavouring is typical of Persian cuisine and Iraqi cuisine, as well as in Gulf-style baharat (a spice mixture that is also called kabsa or kebsa).


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lime_(fruit)



As for lemons:


Originally posted by Wikipedia Wikipedia wrote:


The origin of the lemon is unknown, though lemons are thought to have first grown in Assam (a region in northeast India), northern Burma or China. A study of the genetic origin of the lemon reported it to be hybrid between bitter orange (sour orange) and citron. (emphasis mine)


Lemons entered Europe near southern Italy no later than the first century AD, during the time of Ancient Rome…. They were later introduced to Persia and then to Iraq and Egypt around 700 AD. The lemon was first recorded in literature in a 10th-century Arabic treatise on farming, and was also used as an ornamental plant in early Islamic gardens. It was distributed widely throughout the Arab world and the Mediterranean region between 1000 and 1150….


The origin of the word "lemon" may be Middle Eastern. The word draws from the Old French limon, then Italian limone, from the Arabic laymūn or līmūn, and from the Persian līmūn, a generic term for citrus fruit, which is a cognate of Sanskrit (nimbū, “lime”).


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon



Things got really interesting, however, when - purely on impulse - I decided to take a look at what Wikipedia had to say about the sour orange:


Originally posted by Wikipedia Wikipedia wrote:


Bitter orange, Seville orange, sour orange, bigarade orange, or marmalade orange refers to a citrus tree (Citrus × aurantium) and its fruit. It is a hybrid between Citrus maxima (pomelo) and Citrus reticulata (mandarin)....


Seville orange (or bigarade) is a widely known, particularly tart orange which is now grown throughout the Mediterranean region. It has a thick, dimpled skin, and is prized for making marmalade, being higher in pectin than the sweet orange, and therefore giving a better set and a higher yield....


The unripe fruit, called narthangai, is commonly used in Southern Indian cuisine, especially in Tamil cuisine. It is pickled by cutting it into spirals and stuffing it with salt. The pickle is usually consumed with yoghurt rice thayir sadam. The fresh fruit is also used frequently in pachadis....


Throughout Iran (commonly known as narenj), the juice is popularly used as a salad dressing, souring agent in stews and pickles or as a marinade. (emphasis mine) The blossoms are collected fresh to make a prized sweet-smelling aromatic jam ("Bitter orange blossom jam" Morabba Bahar-Narendj), or added to brewing tea. In Turkey, juice of the ripe fruits can be used as salad dressing, especially in Çukurova region.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitter_orange



The main thing I learned from this reading was that for all practical purposes, either lemons or limes would be just as plausible in Persian cuisine, and that sour oranges would definitely work as well. As is so often the case, my supposition is that the choice of which to use would in all likelihood come down to personal preference...or what is available, which led to Brook’s use of limes in his preparation.


In any case, this Persian Chicken dish is no longer just a recipe found in a book or on the forum; as far as I am concerned, it is officially tried-and-true, and I am very eager to try it. Will I use lemons, or limes? I don’t know, yet - I even happen to have a bottle Seville orange juice around, so I’ll think on it and decide what to use when it is time to make it.


More to come ~


Ron

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2017 at 10:02
Not long after my post above, I tried this recipe and absolutely loved it!

My son Mike is the one who actually prepared it; his was a little off the written recipe, but all-in-all, I do believe that the essence was there. For the marinade, we didn't have any mint (I had forgotten to get some) and he didn't use the saffron (I had hidden it too well in the back of the cabinet) - nevertheless, it still contained a huge amount of flavor, and complimented the chicken thighs perfectly.

As to the cooking, He decided to bake the chicken in the oven, rather than bread and fry it. This worked out just fine, as far as I can tell. My FotW volume on the Middle East contains a recipe for broiled chicken that is similar, but not quite the same, so his preparation was at least plausible. The browning from the oven was very nice - the chicken was moist and tender, in spite of being slightly over-cooked, and tasted great.

We served it with a salad of chopped cucumber and chopped cherry tomatoes, tossed with a little salt, pepper and vinegar. Nothing fancy, but it went very well with the chicken.

This one is absolutely a keeper!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2017 at 11:19
Glad you liked it, Ron. But, let's face it, it hard to not like one of Ana Sortun's dishes.

Salads made with cucumber and tomato are endemic to the Mideast and Indian Ocean countries. So that was a natural choice.

My favorite version uses a julianne of tomato and cucumber tossed together. This is dressed an interesting way, in that the ingredients are sprinkled separately, rather than in the form of a dressing. First is a squirt of evoo, followed by one of lemon juice. Finally, cumin and salt are sprinkled over the veggies.

Since first learning that trick, we always keep a small container of cumin salt on hand---basically coarsely ground toasted cumin seeds and an equal quantity of salt.

I have made a dressing of those ingredients. But, oddly enough, it doesn't taste quite the same as sprinkling them individually. Go figure!
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