How ever well you do, one keeps improving oneself if what is desired by one. I’m a person who constantly strives to be a better person as an individual as well as my work is related. And that relates to my cooking too. There are many dishes which I have perfected myself, there are dishes which I do pretty well and there are some which I keep perfecting myself. Whatever it is, I keep fine tuning, adding on to flavors and making changes to take it to another level.
This whole baked chicken is one such effort (http://simiskitchendiaries.com/stuffed-whole-baked-chicken/) One of my early posts, this dish is very popular among my friends and family, hence I shared it as soon as I started vlogging. Its been over a year now and I had made some changes to it and made it more palatable and bursting with flavors. This grilled chicken is one among the many customary dishes of Middle East. This is my take on this dish with slight variation.
Grilled Chicken, which can be seen along the length and breadth of Middle East is popular due to its monetary rating also. A whole meal is served along with pita bread, dips and salad which is perfect for a four member family. This version of chicken can be found in all the cultures and countries according to the local availability of the produce.
So when, how and where did chicken attain such a status. History dates back to centuries, when the fowl was invented in Greek. The chickens that saved Western civilization were discovered, according to legend, by the side of a road in Greece in the first decade of the fifth century B.C. The Athenian general Themistocles, on his way to confront the invading Persian forces, stopped to watch two cocks fighting and summoned his troops, saying: “Behold, these do not fight for their household gods, for the monuments of their ancestors, for glory, for liberty or the safety of their children, but only because one will not give way to the other.” The tale does not describe what happened to the loser, nor explain why the soldiers found this display of instinctive aggression inspirational rather than pointless and depressing. But history records that the Greeks, thus heartened, went on to repel the invaders, preserving the civilization that today honors those same creatures by breading, frying and dipping them into one’s choice of sauce. The descendants of those roosters might well think—if they were capable of such profound thought—that their ancient forebears have a lot to answer for.
Chicken is the ubiquitous food of our era, crossing multiple cultural boundaries with ease. With its mild taste and uniform texture, chicken presents an intriguingly blank canvas for the flavor palette of almost any cuisine. How did the chicken achieve such cultural and culinary dominance? It is all the more surprising in light of the belief by many archaeologists that chickens were first domesticated not for eating but for cockfighting. Until the advent of large-scale industrial production in the 20th century, the economic and nutritional contribution of chickens was modest.
In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond listed chickens among the “small domestic mammals and domestic birds and insects” that have been useful to humanity but unlike the horse or the ox did little—outside of legends—to change the course of history. Nonetheless, the chicken has inspired contributions to culture, art, cuisine, science and religion over the millennia. Chickens were, and still are, a sacred animal in some cultures. The prodigious and ever-watchful hen was a worldwide symbol of nurturance and fertility. Eggs hung in Egyptian temples to ensure a bountiful river flood.
The lusty rooster (a.k.a. cock) was a universal signifier of virility—but also, in the ancient Persian faith of Zoroastrianism, a benign spirit that crowed at dawn to herald a turning point in the cosmic struggle between darkness and light. For the Romans, the chicken’s killer app was fortunetelling, especially during wartime. Chickens accompanied Roman armies, and their behavior was carefully observed before battle; a good appetite meant victory was likely. According to the writings of Cicero, when one contingent of birds refused to eat before a sea battle in 249 B.C., an angry consul threw them overboard. History records that he was defeated.
Once chickens were domesticated, cultural contacts, trade, migration and territorial conquest resulted in their introduction, and reintroduction, to different regions around the world over several thousand years. Although inconclusive, evidence suggests that ground zero for the bird’s westward spread may have been the Indus Valley, where the city-states of the Harappan civilization carried on a lively trade with the Middle East more than 4,000 years ago.
Let us now praise chicken in all its extra-crispy glory! Chicken, the mascot of globalization, the universal symbol of middlebrow culinary aspiration! Chicken that has infiltrated the Caesar salad and made inroads on turkey in the club sandwich, that lurks under a blanket of pesto alongside a tangle of spaghetti and glistens with teriyaki sauce. Chicken that—marinated in yogurt and spices, grilled on a skewer and then set afloat in a mild, curry-flavored gravy—has become “a true British national dish,” on no less authority than former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook. (input: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-the-chicken-conquered-the-world-87583657/)
Hence, as chicken tikka is to British and India, as KFC and nuggets to America, is the grilled chicken for Middle East. Certain aromatic spices along with some chilli paste, peri-peri, lime and oil, when marinated with a perfect balance churns out this wonderful grilled chicken. I wanted to bring in some level of spiciness, a bout of sourness and aroma to this fowl.
Marinate as along as you can, between 8-24 hours, which will make the chicken completely bursting with flavors. The addition of spice mix should be mild and not over powering. Chilli paste and peri-peri can be adjusted according to personal preference. That’s all that you have to take care.
I’ve used sumac, lime and balsamic vinegar in this dish. A little each rounds up the dish to perfection. Sumac comes from the berries of a wild bush that grows wild in all Mediterranean areas. The berries are dried and crushed to form a coarse purple-red powder. This is used instead of lime. Sumac and balsamic vinegar can be replaced with white vinegar or the vinegar of your choice. I truly recommend you stick to the original recipe.
Soaking the potatoes in boiling water along with salt gives it the right crispiness outside and make it tender inside. This is perfect with the dip. My kiddos started hogging it as soon as it was prepared and there was barely a couple left by dinner time.
I’ve used sour cream for the dip. If this is not available, you can go with plain or Greek yogurt. Basil leaves or parsley can be used though I used basil, as I feel basil and oregano go with each other. Adding a fresh salad will this a round meal for diet people and add some pita bread will round this up into a wholesome meal.
The beauty of this dish is that, you can prepare and keep everything in advance. Even grilling of the chicken can be half done. So during festivities or party this will be a time and work saver for you along with the fact that it can be served to larger number of people.
Clean and wash the chicken inside out. Drain on a paper towel. Prick with a fork all over.
Grind all the ingredients under spice mix to a powder.
Transfer this powder to a mixing bowl. Add all the ingredients under marinade to this and combine thoroughly.
Place the chicken and coat it with marinade inside out, a little extra inside. Cover and keep in fridge for 3 hours minimum or 8-24 hours.
In a deep bow, add salt and potatoes. Pour the boiling water over and keep it for half an ou to one hour. Drain and cut into wedges.
Heat a pan with oil. Add the crushed garlic and saute till tender. Add the wedges and stir fry on high heat for 2 minutes. Add rest of the ingredients given under potato wedges and stir fry till crisp and done.Keep warm.
Add all the ingredients given under dip and combine thoroughly. Place in fridge till serving time.
Pre-heat an oven/grill to 180-200 degree Celsius and place the chicken which is transferred to a baking.
Bast with a mixture of 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon honey and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Grill till done and browned. Bast half way through and flip the chicken when half done.
Serve hot with the bread and salad of your choice.