Monday, September 5, 2011

Bahrain/Kuwait/Oman/Qatar/Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates: Quwarmah ala Dajaj (Curried Chicken) with Mashkoul (Rice with Onion) and Carrots

This is my first dish for Septembers Cook Around the Globe event. I found several more that I want to try out. The flavors of this dish sounded great, as indeed they turned out to be! The original recipe called for a whole chicken, cut into pieces. I used boneless chicken thighs instead. They turned out so tender, it was actually difficult to serve them. I simplified the preparation of the onioned rice as well, cooking everything together in one step. It doesn't develop a crust, like mashkoul should, but I didn't have the time to prepare "the real thing". The carrots are not from a recipe. I just wanted more veggies to go with the dish and cooked the sliced carrots in some spices to give them a light, matching flavor. If you live in or close to a city, I am sure you can find a pre-made Baharat spice mix. But if, like me, you are living in a rather rural area, you probably have to make your own. When I first went over the list of ingredients and came across "cassia bark", my heart sank. Not only had I never heard of it but I was sure I wouldn't be able to find such an exotic sounding ingredient anywhere close by. So I went to one of my favorite webpages, The Cook's Thesaurus, to find a replacement. What I read made me laugh out loud. It turned out that cassia bark is also called "false cinnamon" and that most "cinnamon" sold in the US actually is cassia bark. I have been using this unknown, exotic ingredient all along!


Ingredients (6 servings):
Baharat (spice mix)
1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
1/4 tbsp ground coriander
1/4 tbsp ground cassia bark
1/4 tbsp ground cloves (or allspice)
1/3 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tbsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tbsp ground paprika

Simplified "Mashkoul" (rice with onion)
2 cups basmati rice
2 tsp salt
1 large onion, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil

Quwarmah ala Dajaj (Curried Chicken)
6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 tsp baharat
1 tsp turmeric
2-4 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
cayenne pepper to taste
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped tomatoes
peeled rind of 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup water

2 pounds carrots, sliced 1/4" thick
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients for the baharat together. Keep in an airtight container. Sprinkle chicken with salt. Mix together baharat and turmeric. Rub half the mixture over chicken. Leave for 15 minutes. Heat ghee or oil over hight heat and brown chicken thighs on each side. Remove to a plate. Reduce heat, add onion to pan and fry until transparent. Add garlic, ginger, remaining spice mixture, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. Fry for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add tomatoes, lemon rind, and water. Add salt to taste and bring to a boil. Add chicken, reduce heat to low, and cover pan. Simmer for about 1 hour until chicken is tender and sauce is thick. In the meantime, prepare the rice and carrots. For the rice, heat oil or ghee over medium heat. Add onion and cook until transparent, about 5-7 minutes. Add rice and stir for 1 minute. Add 3 1/2 cups of water and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until water is completely soaked up, about 15-20 minutes. For the carrots, fill 1" high water in a large enough pot. Add all spices and salt. Bring to a boil. Add carrots and simmer until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Serve chicken with rice and carrots.


  1. I love all of the wonderful spices used in these dishes! I've never heard of cassia bark, so I guess I need to find some. Great meal!