Monday, December 26, 2016

Alex's Chicken Moufle (about 4-5 servings)

 
Alex's Chicken Moufle

I first met my beautiful Iranian-American friend Naghmeh several decades ago in high school Track & Field. Honestly, I could not run...maybe unless I am being chased by a bear and my life is depending on how fast my legs move! I definitely did not win any medals but at least that extra-curricular activity allowed me to stay active and made new friends. Somehow we lost touch after we graduated from college probably because both of us moved multiple times and our busy lives took us in different paths but luckily we found each other again thanks to social media. When I met her we became instant friends. She and I shared many things in common. One significant life changing event--we both left our birth countries with our parents to seek a better opportunity in the United States. I remember she told me she and her parents left family, friends, and their worldly possessions...uprooted from a comfortable and well-to-do lifestyle in Iran to live in a small rental apartment in Bangor. Although it must have been a huge life-altering adjustment for all of them, as it is for most of us who find ourselves having to resettle in a foreign country, I never once heard them complain or speak of anything negative. I know they were very happy to reunite with her sister and other relatives already here. Currently, Naghmeh resides with her beautiful family in California. Although she is a working mom she loves cooking especially Persian food for her family.

Recently Naghmeh shared with me her version of Persian lemon chicken. She cooks without measuring but she gave me her best estimation of the ingredients. She does not have a name for this dish but tells me her son Alex named it "chicken moufle" when he was just four years old! "I'm not sure why he called that. He has always made up names for things." Both of her children, Alex and Samira love this dish and when they request this dish they refer to it as "chicken moufle"!
 

She explains that many Persian dishes have turmeric and she normally uses the powder form. According to her this is not a fancy dish and does not require any herbs. She admits that adding lemon slices as a  garnish to create a prettier presentation can't hurt. "The key is the long cooking time to develop the simple but strong flavors." She serves this chicken dish with rice and Persian chopped salad.

Thank you Naghmeh for sharing this special Persian dish and to Alex for putting a name to something delicious! Below is Naghmeh's recipe.


Alex's Chicken Moufle
Alex's Chicken Moufle (about 4-5 servings)

Ingredients:

About 2 Tbsp canola oil or grape seed oil
1 large onion, peeled, cut into wedges
About 2 Tbsp turmeric powder
8-10 chicken drumsticks with skin intact
About 2 cups water (or enough to cover 1/4 way up the pan)
About 2 Tbsp lemon juice (from store bought bottle)
Salt
Pepper

Method:

Saute onion in a little canola or grape seed oil until lightly golden. Add about 2 tablespoons of turmeric powder. Turn the heat on high, arrange the chicken drums on the bottom of the pan with the onions spreading around the chicken. Let the chicken brown for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper the chicken (I like a good amount of salt). Add about 2 cups of water (or enough to cover 1/4 way up the pan). Cover the pan and turn the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Add about 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice (more depth in flavor than fresh). Cover the pot or pan back up, turn the heat to low and let simmer for at least an hour. Add more water, salt and pepper if needed. Once done the chicken should fall off the bone.

*My version of Alex's Chicken Moufle is basically the same as above. I bought 9 chicken drumsticks (used "all natural" fresh young chickens) that came in a package. The chicken came to 1.19 pounds and with the total cost of $3.37 USD. Pretty cheap for good chicken! There was not much fat but I cut out some of the fatty parts of the skin and left most of the skin intact. I added the chicken drumsticks and lightly sear these first before adding the turmeric powder. Instead of water, I used 4 cups of (organic) store-bought chicken stock. I simmered everything in the pot for 20 minutes then added 3 tablespoons of lemon juice (store bought bottle), 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper. Instead of covering the pot completely I partially covered it for about another 1 hour over low heat so the liquid can reduce to about half. Roughly every 20 minutes I skimmed off and discarded the impurities that floated to the top. My friend and neighbor Inge described what sounds to me she had caught an intestinal virus and had not been eating for 4 days. I invited her to join me for dinner and she surprised us both with what she could eat. She thanked me for getting her appetite back to near normal with this meal! We ate this with freshly steamed rice and Naghmeh's Rainbow Salad. Tasty!!

*Here is a WedMD link on turmeric. This has the general overview, uses, side effects, interactions and dosing (pill form) on turmeric. Before you take any herbal supplement such as turmeric pills please consult with your health care provider.  http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-662-turmeric.aspx?activeingredientid=662

*University of Maryland Medical Center also has some great information on turmeric with references of supporting research documents if you wish to review them. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric  

Naghmeh's Rainbow Salad
Naghmeh tells me she makes a salad by chopping up vegetables to eat along with this dish. Here is my version of this salad and I am going to name it after her!

Naghmeh's Rainbow Salad (about 2 servings)

Ingredients:

About 1/2 small orange bell pepper, seeds removed, sliced
About 10 small tomatoes (various types and colors), halved or quartered
About 1/4 English cucumber, chopped
1/8th red onion, peeled, sliced
A few sprigs of cilantro, chopped
Juice from about 1/2 a lime
A little olive oil (about 1 tsp)
A little salt
A little white pepper

Method:

Toss everything in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Naghmeh's Persian Salad

The salad below consists of ingredients that Naghmeh usually make for her family. Traditionally there is no bell pepper but sometimes she adds it to this salad. Thank you Naghmeh for sharing your recipes!

Naghmeh's Persian Salad

Ingredients:

Cucumbers
Tomatoes
Onions
Lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Mint leaves
Salt
Pepper

Method:

Toss everything together and serve immediately.

*In this salad (see photo above) I used about 3/4 English cucumber (keeping the skin on), a large handful of small variety of tomatoes, about 1/4 large red onion, juice from about half a lemon, a few drizzles of extra-virgin olive oil, about 10 home-grown mint leaves, and seasoned with a few pinches of salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste. I like to cut my vegetables in various ways for my own visual gratification. You can chop them or cut them however you prefer. Once you make this salad serve it right away. If you leave it too long it will get watery as the salt will draw out the liquid.
*Choose cucumbers with few or small seeds. If you happen to find some with large seeds just scoop out the middle and discard. 

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