This post is dedicated to Katia (I promise you a more romantic one, loool)
I have settled adequately into my Ramadan routine. It's really simple come to think of it, minimum talk and/or contact with the rest of the human race, that's all I ask for. At work, I hate talking on the phone or having to hear office chitchat. You know I'd rather be left alone. I don't like smiling or being agreeable. Well I pretty much hate everything in the morning. Later on in the day, I can close the door, be by myself and relieve the rest of the world of my grumpiness. You got the idea didn't you? I'm not much fun in Ramadan so just …. The phone rang for the hundredth time. Ohhh, I'm really mad now...
It was my son, “Hi dad, I have a good recipe for your blog.”
“What is it Fares?” I asked, restraining myself from being too opprobrious.
He loitered with his words, “Mum is stuffing a chicken and I'm helping out. Do you want me to take pictures?”
"Sure why not,” I wanted to hang up, “is that all?” My mouth gaped in a rictus of annoyance and dudgeon.
“No there's Fatteh too”, he said unnecessarily.
I was on the brink of desperation, “no I meant do you want something else before we hang up.”
“Ahhh not really, although it would be nice seeing that big smirk on your face now. Bye dad!!!” He hung up.
Oh damn it, I really didn't want to smile. It's so out of my character at this hour of the day in Ramadan. But here it is anyway, Jijeh Mehshieh (Stuffed Chicken a la Tortosa), all photos taken by Fares.
1 whole naked chicken
200g ground beef
1 cup long grain rice
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt (or per taste)
2 cinnamon sticks
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ mixed spices (whatever)
½ cinnamon powder
2 laurel leaves
-Heat oil in pot and stir the ground beef until golden brown then add the rice. Continue stirring for a minute or two before adding 1 cup of water. Cook rice covered over low heat. Remove when almost done.
-Rub the chicken inside out with the salt, herbs and spices and stick the cut garlic in there. It's easy to get kinky with chicken so watch what you're doing and respect the dead please.
-Stuff her with meat/rice making sure not to over pack.
-Stitch the ungodly hole with needle and thread then place into a large pot and add water to cover ¾ of the body. It's a good time to throw in the onion, cinnamon sticks and the laurel leaves. Bring to boil and keep on medium heat for 30 minutes.
-Remove then place in a pan with 2 cups of the broth. Wrap completely (chicken and pan) with aluminum foil and shove it in the oven for 45 minutes (175ºC). Remove foil and leave in oven for another 15 minutes to give the chicken a lovely suntan (or oventan, hahaha: wicked laugh).
-What remains of the broth could be used as sauce or converted into chicken soup (it's very good by the way).
-Present with more cooked rice (in this case the additional rice was prepared with some saffron to give it the golden yellowish hue).
-Enjoy the Jijeh (chicken) at its best.
Jijeh is Tartoussi for Jahjeh (Damascus), Djedjeh (Aleppo), Dajaja (the rest of the Arab world with the exception of Egypt where it's called Ferkha).