( SERVES 6 )
Photo by Tam West
This is my slightly deconstructed version of the Middle Eastern classic. The recipe is said to have originally come from the Circassian women of the Ottoman harem, who had a reputation for great beauty and excellent cooking. This dish is rich and subtle and hardly needs any accompaniment other than steamed rice.
- Put the chicken, the onion, 1 of the leeks and 1 of the carrots into a saucepan just big enough to hold everything.
- Add the cloves, peppercorns, coriander seeds, allspice berries and bay leaves and enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 45 minutes.
- Remove the onion, leek and carrot and discard.
- Add the remaining leek and carrots and simmer 15 minutes or until the chicken is almost falling to pieces. Don’t boil furiously or the chicken will be dry and tough.
- Remove from the heat and carefully lift the chicken and vegetables on to a warm serving platter and cover loosely with foil. Strain the cooking liquid, bring to the boil and fast-boil until reduced by three quarters.
- Put the nuts, garlic, the bread soaked in the milk and the coriander into a food processor and process until the nuts are coarsely chopped.
- Add enough of the cooking liquid to make a creamy sauce and process again (freeze the remaining cooking liquid for future use). Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl mix the walnut oil, chilli flakes and paprika. Season with salt.
- Serve the nut sauce over the warm chicken with the leek and carrots around it with the walnut oil mixture drizzled over the top and extra nuts and coriander sprinkled over everything.