Malaysia, like the rest of the world, is sadly battling the deadly coronavirus outbreak. We’ve been under a partial shutdown in the hopes of breaking the chain of infection and curbing the spread. We must say, as great as it is being able to work from home, the idea of never being able to go out, see Darsh’s mom, go hiking, grab a coffee or a meal, really does take its toll. Especially as working in the news industry, we’ve been quite overwhelmed with covering news of the crisis day in and out. What about you guys?
Still, shoutout to the overworked medical frontliners who are braving the risks just to help the ill, other medical staff holding the fort so key medical services can keep running, the police and security officers working to enforce the law and keep us safe, welfare officers and NGOs working to feed and look after the poor and marginalised, the public servants who keep the world churning, the supermarket workers, security guards, postal service workers and more who keep us all one step closer to sanity and away from utter chaos.
And a silver lining if we must find one, is that the imposed home quarantine has really given us time for each other and to, well, cook. It’s been a mad almost year since we moved back to Malaysia and we’ve been guilty of neglecting this beautiful website #hangsheadinshame. But we figured that many people could use some quarantine cooking inspiration, to get out of those stuck-at-home blues. Maybe also a little distraction from the news? In any case, we hope our Moroccan-inspired lemon chicken dish would go a little way to add some colour and cheer into your day.
PS: If anything is to be learnt from all this, is that mankind is more interconnected to each other than we’d like to admit. And while we must all practice appropriate social distancing measures, the only way the virus will win is if we turn against each other, instead of remaining together in our hearts.
Covid-19 cares not about age or race, or nationality, gender or skin colour. So ditch the blame game and xenophobia, the each man-for-himself mentality. Humanity will get through this, but we can only do so together.
- 1kg chicken pieces
- Pinch of saffron, very lightly dry roasted
- 2 large onions, thickly sliced
- 2 large dried dates, deseeded and sliced lengthwise
- 3-4 dried apricots, sliced lengthwise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 8 - 10 pitted green olives
- 8 - 10 pitted black olives
- 1 tbsp capers, rinsed
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1-2 cups water (depending on amount of gravy desired)
- Chopped coriander
- 1/2 tsp salt
- For chicken marinade
- 5 cloves garlic, rough chopped
- Thumb size ginger, rough chopped
- 2 large dried dates, deseeded and rough chopped
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp Ras El Hanout
- 1 tbsp za'atar
- 1 tsp fennel
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp course ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- *You can replace the Ras El Hanout + za'atar with 1 tbsp cumin powder + 1 tbsp sumac
- *We used a tagine to cook this dish, but a large cast iron pot/Dutch oven works too
- Soak saffron in some hot water.
- Blitz all the ingredients for the chicken marinade together in a food processor. Add more oil or some water (ever so little) as needed to make a paste. Taste and check the seasoning.
- Marinade chicken pieces for a minimum of two hours or overnight.
- In the tagine or pot, add a little bit of oil to prevent sticking and heat on high. Remove and set aside access marinate and add chicken pieces to hot cooking pot.
- Reduce heat and cook chicken pieces till coloured on all sides [You are not looking to cook the chicken through, just brown the skin]. Remove chicken pieces and set aside.
- Once the chicken is removed, add a bit oil to prevent sticking and heat on high once more.
- Add onions, reduce heat to medium and sauté until slightly brown, about 10-15mins. You can also add and stir in any leftover marinade. Take care to scrape all the brown bits from the base of the pot (flavour!)
- Spread out onions evenly over the bottom of the pan, then add cinnamon sticks.
- Place chicken pieces evenly on top of the onions.
- Scatter with olives, dates, apricots, capers and distribute lemon slices on top.
- Pour in lemon juice, salt, saffron [with soaking liquid], 1 or 2 cups water.
- Bring to a quick boil. Once it just starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low, cover and leave for about 30 mins until the chicken is cooked and the lemon slices have become very soft.
- Once the chicken pieces are cooked, taste and adjust seasoning. If you want to reduce the gravy, remove the chicken, and continue to cook the liquid a little longer.
- Add the chicken back in (if removed) and top with coriander.
- Sunshine in a bowl. Serve with warm bread or fluffy couscous.