A simple yet grand Eid feast: rice-stuffed chicken and finger-licking Znoud el Sit
Eidul Fitr is almost upon us. Keeping in line with tradition, it is time to iron those shalwar kameez and new lawn outfits. Time to buy colourful bangles, matching jewellery and prepare for the arrival of guests.
But those are not the only traditions. Another very important tradition is the Eid feast. This year I decided to ditch the usual chicken karhai/qorma and sawaiyan (gasps), and try something different. Something that is simple to make, yet looks grand on the table. So let’s get to it!
Rice Stuffed Chicken
My inspiration for the main course was a Middle Eastern delicacy of stuffed lamb with rice known as Hashweh, but I replaced lamb with chicken. This is a fast and easy low carbohydrate meal and absolutely delicious to boot. I love the different variations that can be made with this dish. My favourite part is the rice which is stuffed in the chicken since it is infused with spices from the marinated chicken.
Whole chicken - 1
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Chilli flakes - 1 tsp
Salt - ½ tsp
Black pepper - ½ tsp
Cumin - 1 tsp
Turmeric - ½ tsp
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tbs
Yoghurt - ½ cup
Green chillies - 5 to 6
1. Marinate chicken with the spices and leave for about two hours.
2. In the cavity, stuff the chicken with the rice. I used pea pulao in this case, but you can add in stir fried rice with any combination, be it raisins or vegetables.
3. Seal the cavity with green chillies and tie each end of the leg together with a thread or strip of foil. Stick in some skewers to make sure the stuffing doesn't fall out.
4. To cook the chicken, you can use either of these two methods: roast it in the oven after covering it with foil, which will take about an hour and a half; or take a big pot, add in a bit of water and steam the chicken in its own water. Keep checking to make sure the water does not dry out.
5. To check if the chicken is cooked, sear a bit from the side to see if it is white.
Znoud el Sit (Ladyfinger)
I wanted to try something different this Eid with the dessert, so I decided to go for a Lebanese dish. When anyone says ladyfinger, the vegetable okra comes to mind. But in the Arab world, ladyfinger is a scrumptious dessert which goes back to the rule of the Ottoman’s in the Levant region. It received it name from a royal palace attendee who thought the dish looked like long fingers.
Znoud el Sit are crispy on the outside and are filled with a thick cream, fried to a golden brown crisp and dipped in sugar syrup infused with rose water. It is so addictive that it is absolutely impossible to eat just one. I went with my own version though. According to Arab cuisine, one must make a separate cream filling known as Ashta. For the filling, pastry sheets can also be used but I used flattened pancakes. So one can try different spins on it. It is a simple and a must-try recipe!
Ingredients for sugar syrup:
Sugar - 1 ½ cups
Water - ¾ cup
Rose water - ½ tsp
Lemon juice - ½ tsp
Sealing paste - ¼ cup of flour mixed in ¼ cup water
Ingredients for Znoud el Sit:
White bread - 4 to 5 slices
Thick cream/ Nestle cream/ Arabic clotted cream
Ground pistachios for garnish
Oil for deep frying
Method for sugar syrup:
1. Mix sugar and water in a pan and place it on the stove.
2. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and allow it to come to a gentle boil.
3. Let it simmer for 10 minutes until the syrup thickens slightly.
4. Finally, add in the lemon juice and the rose water.
Method for Znoud el Sit:
1. Trim the sides of the bread. Flatten it out using a rolling pin.
2. Apply the sealing paste on both long sides of the bread and on one short side.
3. Add in the cream like a log near the remaining short side of the bread slice. Then gently roll it and seal well. Remember that it should be sealed well or it will open up while frying. This is optional, but you can freeze this for some time to solidify, by doing this the bread will soak up lesser oil.
4. Heat the oil and fry these rolls, seal side down first, on a medium flame.
5. Remove these from the oil onto a kitchen tissue and then dip the rolls in the sugar syrup. Dip the two ends into ground pistachios as well.
Hope you enjoy these recipes and Eid Mubarak to everyone celebrating around the world!
(All photos by author)