Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jordan: I couldn't pass up pomegranate-charred tomato sauce

Jordanian cuisine was influenced by the Arabs and Greeks. Small plates, grilled meats, salads, flatbreads, and an abundance of spices and herbs are common.

To be perfectly honest, I didn't go into this like "Let's make Jordanian food!" Actually, I found a recipe for "Palestinian Chicken" in the Barbecue Bible with a charred tomato sauce with pomegranate molasses and went, "I have to make that! But oh crap, Palestine is not a UN member. Oh hey, Jordan is right next to Palestine!" And then I did a whole bunch of research to make sure that the dishes would be valid (or at least not be invalid) for Jordan. So I don't know whether they eat Palestinian Chicken with Charred Tomato sauce in Jordan, but I do know that marinating meat in yogurt is common throughout the region, as is the use of pomegranate molasses in savory dishes. I added some tabbouleh for nutrition, authenticity, and good measure. And then I added some flatbread brushed with olive oil and zatar, thrown on the grill for a couple of minutes, just because I like it.

Apparently I'm not a huge tabbouleh fan, but the chicken and sauce were absolutely delicious! Flavorful, a little spiced, tart, garlicky, and sweet all at the same time. I've been fantasizing about what else I can smother in that sauce. Maybe a riff on mozzarella sticks, but with breaded and fried feta instead...

Note: my companion for this endeavor was Elana, and although I don't have a picture of her doing it, she is a master cilantro-chopper. She also brought some delicious baklava for dessert.


3 bunches (500 gr) flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
2 tsp salt (up to taste)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
Juice of 3 lemons
100 gr fine bulghur (cracked wheat)
1 tbsp mint finely chopped
1cup boiling water
1/2 cup (100 gr) olive oil

Place bulghur in a bowl, add the boiling water and leave to soak for 15 minutes.
Put chopped parsley, mint, onions and tomatoes in a large bowl.
Add salt, pepper and cinnamon.
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly.
Drain the bulghur and squeeze to remove all the excess water, add to the parsley mixture.
Finally, add lemon juice and olive oil and mix.

Palestinian Chicken

2 lbs chicken pieces, bone-in, skin-on (I used thighs)
1 cup plain yogurt
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, and floves in a small nonreactive bowl and whisk to blend. Pour over the chicken (I used a ziplock bag) and use your fingers to make sure the chicken is completely covered. Marinate 4-12 hours (the longer the better).

Preheat the grill to medium. Put the chicken on the grill skin-side down and discard the marinade. Cook until the skin is golden brown and the meat is cooked through, 8-12 minutes per side. If you get flare-ups, move the chicken off to the side (I'm still working on this part, as you'll see in the pictures). Serve with Charred Tomato Sauce with Pomegranate Molasses.

Charred Tomato Sauce with Pomegranate Molasses

1 large ripe tomato
1 clove garlic, minced (I used more, as always)
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I used less, as always)
salt and pepper

Grill the tomato until the skin is charred on all sides, 8-12 minutes. Let cool. Scrape off most of the burnt skin, then place it and the other ingredients in a food processor and process to a coarse paste. Test for seasoning. Serve at room temperature.

1 comment:

  1. Given that the West Bank was part of Jordan prior to 1967, it seems likely that Palestinian Chicken was served in Jordan at one time. I love the idea of charring tomatoes on the grill for sauce. I'm planning a run out to my favorite tomato stand (on Rt. 7, a bit NW of Tyson's Corner) soon. All this hot weather has to be good for something!