Dajaj Salona or Chicken Salona recipe is an Emirati stew filled with seasonal vegetables flavoured with Bezar, a unique spice blend.
Back with MENA Cooking Club! This time the club explored UAE (United Arab Emirates) Cuisine and I chose to try Dejaj Saloona. UAE is one of the Middle Eastern countries with almost 80% of its population as expatriates. The same reason why their authentic cuisine is hard to differentiate as it is diluted with all the foreign influences. Even though UAE's mainstay is seafood; meat and vegetables are cooked more often and mostly in one-pot stews.
What is Chicken Salona?
Dejaj Salona is an Emirati chicken stew made with a lot of seasonal vegetables flavoured with the Spice mix called Bezar. I chose the most sought-after bezar mix recipe on the internet listed in uaeforver and made a small batch of the same.
I adapted Noor's chicken Salona recipe from yasalamcooking. First we boil the chicken to get the broth to make the Salona. Then we add the veggies and let it cook low and slow. You can also check Fahad's version of salona recipe at uaeforever.
F and I loved it so much with rice that we ended up drinking the leftover off the plate the way I do with Rasam! He asked me to make it again on the weekend and I was more than happy to oblige as that means a daylight picture!
- A whole chicken
- Whole spices: cardamom, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, dried black lime, galangal root and black stone flower.
- Veggies: garlic clove, onion, ginger, green chillies, potatoes, carrots, beans, bell pepper, tomatoes, and coriander leaves
- Ground spices: bezar spice mix, cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, cardamom and chilli powder
- cooking oil
- tomato paste
How to make Chicken Salona?
Now, my method is time-consuming for a good reason. Tastes better. The faster method is dumping all into a pot or pressure cooker and cooking until done. But making the stock first will give you a chance to remove the impurities or foam off the stock. Also, here you can include all the chicken pieces that you would not normally include in the actual dish. The bone is what renders the stock flavour so I highly recommend trying this method.
- Prepare the bezar spice mix
- Prepare the chicken stock
- Prep the veggies
- Prepare the chicken salona
Anytime you cook stew you should use chicken with the bones for that added flavour. So, add all those chicken pieces like the back bone, neck etc. which you normally don't use.
Emirati Spice mix (Bezar)
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- ½ tablespoon black peppercorns
- 2 dried rec chillies
- 2 inch cinnamon sticks
- ½ tablespoon turmeric powder
- Grind all the whole spices in a spice grinder or coffee grinder until almost fine.
- Stir in the turmeric powder and pulse a few times to incorporate.
- Transfer to a dry jar and let it cool for a few minutes before you put on the lid.
- Store in an air-tight container.
Dejaj Salona | Emirati Chicken and Vegetable Stew
For Chicken Stock
- 800 grams whole chicken cut into 8 to 12 pieces
- Enough and more water to cover the chicken
- 1 cardamom
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 loomi dried lime or black lime
- 1 small piece of galangal root optional
- 1 small piece of black stone flower shaiba leaves (optional)
- 1 garlic clove
For Dejaj Salona
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
- ½ inch ginger grated
- 3 green chillis slit
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 potatoes peeled and cut into chunky roundels
- 2 to 3 carrots peeled and cut into chunky roundels
- 10 french beans
- 1 small bell pepper any colour
- 2 to 3 large tomatoes cut into roundels
- 1 loomi dried lime or black lime
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1½ teaspoon bezar spice mix
- Salt to taste
- Fistful of coriander leaves chopped
Prepare Chicken Broth
- Take a deep pot, add water, chicken pieces, and the whole spices and bring it to a full boil.
- Skim out and discard the foam and impurities using a spoon. Reduce the flame to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken pieces and cooked.
- Remove the chicken pieces using tongs and keep them aside. Strain the broth and discard the whole spices.
Prepare Dejaj Salona
- Heat the oil in a curry pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, and sauté until golden with a dash of salt.
- Stir in ginger, garlic and green chillies and sauté for a minute.
- Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, and all the chopped veggies along with a loomi. Season with salt as you go.
- Cover and cook for 5 to 8 mins stirring occasionally until tomatoes are cooked down.
- Add the boiled chicken pieces along with all the spice powders.
- Pour the strained broth and add more water if required. Taste and adjust the salt.
- Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until all the vegetables are cooked through. Stir in fresh coriander leaves.
- Serve chicken salona warm with a sprinkle of freshly chopped coriander leaves. Serve with white rice or Emirati bread, ragag.