Thursday, March 6, 2014

Josephine Mardelli Bahdi's Chicken and Rice Dome

The " Sunday Lunch at Grandma" is a universal event. Every culture has its own version and the Middle Eastern version is surely one of the most exciting affairs. This grandma is not mine but I surely wish that I get to be invited to one of her epic Sunday lunches. Her name is Josephine Mardelli Bahdi. Here is her story by her grandson Camille Otrakji. "She is originally from southern Turkey. They moved to Aleppo with their father where she lived until the early 90's. Moved to Montreal since. She was always known among relatives and friends in Aleppo for being a skilled cook. They would look forward to being invited to lunch (Aleppo people love food more than anything in life as you know). I remember when I was young some guests kept eating until they could not eat anymore and then asking her to leave everything on the table until they went for a walk to digest what they could, and come back eat a second round!"
Teta Josephine's sunday feast

My friend Camille posted a picture of this beautiful Rice and Chicken Dome on his Facebook page. Needless to say, I had to express my awe and jalousie. Many of his friends asked for the recipe, I offered to post it on my blog and here we are. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Josephine's Rice and Chicken Dome!

Chicken and Rice Dome

Chicken and Stock:
1 Chicken and 2 thighs (preferably organic and large)
4-6 Peppercorn
1-2 Cinnamon stick
2-3 Bay leaf
4 cups of water
Meat mixture:
700 g of ground beef
1 teaspoon of 7 spices mixture (cinnamon, paprika, black pepper, clove, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups of basmati rice 
4 cups of water
1 1/2 cup of pistachio, pine nuts and peeled almonds
2 tablespoons of butter

Preheat the oven to 200 F

To make the Chicken and Chicken Stock:
In a big stock pot, add the whole chicken and the 2 thighs with the stock spices. Bring to a boil then lower heat to simmer until fully cooked. About 45-60 minutes. Skim the foam that goes on the top using a spoon
Debone the cooked chicken. Try to leave them in medium uniform pieces. Set a side. 
strain the liquid to remove all the impurities. You will use it to cook the rice.
To make the meat:
In a pan on medium heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil, add the ground beef and cook until it is half done. You don't want it to dry completely. Add one teaspoon of the spices mixture. Add salt to taste. Set aside.
To make the rice:
For every cup of basmati rice, add two cups of the liquid. If you ran out, just add water. Add some salt to taste. Let the mixture come to boil, then reducer the heat to low and cover it. Just before it is completely cooked, add the meat mixture. Cover and cook and then turn off the heat.
After 10 minutes, gently fluff the rice and meat mixture with a fork. Make sure that you do it gently so you don't break the rice. After all, in the old days the women of the Middle East bragged about how perfect their basmati rice looked after it is cooked.
The topping:
Place the pistachio in a cup of hot water. this will rehydrate the pistachio and plump them. Don't sauté the pistachio.
In a pan over medium heat, add the butter for pine nuts and almonds and toast separately. Keep your eyes on the nuts because they can turn from beautiful golden to brown in a split of a second. 
Demo Construction:
You will need a deep pan or bowl or high cake pan
Distribute one layer of pistachio
Add the sautéed pine nuts and almonds
Add the chicken pieces 
Add the rice and meat mixture. Compress them with a big spoon
Place in a preheated oven (200) just to reheat it
Place a big round tray/serving dish on top of the pan, say a little prayer and turn around.  Voila! you will have the famous Rice and Chicken Dome guaranteed to impress your guests.


Thanks to Teta Josephine Mardelli Bahdi for the recipe
Thanks to Camille Otrakji to the pictures and writing down the recipe,

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness! I'm totally going to make this!!!