Mofatah Al Dajaj, the Saudi ethnic chicken rice dish made with boiled chicken in whole spices and Kashna with onion, almonds and raisins or sultanas.
Do you know who declares the national dish of a country? I have no clue but would like to know what makes a dish a national dish.
Mofatah Al Dajaj came under my radar when I read this article in Saudi Gazette. The writer shares his thoughts on why he is NOT convinced that Kabsa is a Saudi national dish. Though the article is from the writer's point of view, the thought that Kabsa need not be the national dish of Saudi Arabia got me looking for more about it.
I landed on Arabic Bites which seems to be an inactive blog but a treasure trove of middle eastern recipes. I was intrigued by the title - Mofatah al dajaj - so gave it a try on the very next day.
- Whole spices: galangal root, cinnamon stick, cardamom, black stone flower and dried black lime
- Ground spices: saffron, turmeric, cinnamon, chilli flakes, any Arab spice mix, pepper and cumin
- Olive oil
- rose water
- lemon juice
- white vinegar
- dried fruits and nuts: raisins or sultanas, almonds or pine nuts
- veggies: ginger, garlic, onion and green chillies
- basmati rice
How to make it?
Mofatah Al Dajaj can be made easily if you prep your ingredients ahead. As the ingredient list is long, prepping them will help the process and keep you calm. 🙂
- Chicken pieces are boiled with a bundle of whole spices like a black stone flower, galangal root, cardamom, black lime and cinnamon.
- A dressing (wet mixture) made with olive oil, ground spices, lemon juice and rose water
- Kashna - a mixture of onion, almonds and raisins or sultanas and a portion of the prepared wet mixture.
- The boiled chicken pieces are picked out, brushed with the dressing and roasted
- The stock is used to cook the rice
- Served with roasted chicken topped with remaining kashna and a bowl of buttermilk or Laban.
We enjoyed this rice and chicken dish as it was a welcome change to the usual Biryani or neychoru. You must give this a try, especially if you have never cooked with these spices like shaiba leaves, which are also used in Indian cooking and are called Black stone flower / Kalpasi / Dagar da Phool. And the Galangal root is also called Thai ginger. Loomi is the dried black lime.
As we are the "I-need-more-masala-in-my-biryani" type of people, I have increased the quantity of the spice mixture and onions to get a lot of masala for the rice. OMG! I have taken the liberty to call it masala but it is the Kashna!
The almond, raisins and caramelised onions with other spices bring a unique flavour to the rice and chicken. Alrighty, go ahead and read it once and all you biryani experts will get an idea to make this easier.
Now, I truly believe Mofatah Al Dajaj should have been a national dish of Saudi Arabia!
Mofatah Al Dajaj | An Ethnic Saudi Rice and Chicken Dish
- 1 inch galangal root
- 2 inch cinnamon stick
- 3 green cardamom
- 2 pieces Black stone flower aka shaiba leaves or kalpasi or dagar da phool
- 1 dried black lime loomi
For the wet spice mixture
- a pinch of saffron strands optional
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon Baharat spice mix or bezar spice mix
- 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon rose water
- Juice of a lemon
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- salt to taste
For the almond and raisins garnish
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion sliced finely
- 1 tablespoon raisins black or golden
- ¼ cup almonds blanched
- 2 tablespoons prepared wet spice mixture
For boiling chicken
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion
- 3 green chillies
- 550 grams chicken bone-in pieces
- ¼ teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper freshly ground
- ¼ teaspoon cumin powder
- 3½ cups water
For cooking the rice
- 1¼ cups basmati rice washed and soaked for 30 minutes
- chicken stock that you got after boiling the chicken - adjust this according to your rice requirement
- salt to taste
Prepare the spice bundle
- Make a small bundle of the whole spices by keeping them in a clean piece of muslin cloth and tying the ends together. Ensure this is tight so it doesn't open up while boiling.
Prepare the Wet Spice mixture
- Add all the ingredients (a pinch of saffron (optional), turmeric powder, cinnamon powder, chilli flakes, Arab spice mix or Bezar spice mix, ginger garlic paste, olive oil, rose water, juice of a lemon, white vinegar and salt to taste) to a small bowl and give it a good stir. Keep this aside.
Prepare the Almond and raisins garnish
- Soak the almonds in hot water for a few minutes or microwave for 1 minute. Peel and slice the almonds and keep them aside. Also, if adding Pine nuts, roast them and keep them aside.
- Heat oil in a pan and add onions and cook on a low flame until they are caramelised.
- Add 2 tablespoons of prepared Wet Spice mixture and cook for a few minutes, then add the almonds and raisins. Keep aside until needed.
Boil the Chicken
- Heat oil in a deep pot and add finely chopped onion and green chillies and saute this for about 2 minutes.
- Add the washed and drained chicken pieces and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Keep turning the chicken pieces until lightly browned.
- Add the spice bundle and 3 and ½ cups of water.
- Bring the water to a boil, then simmer and cook covered for about 30 minutes (on low heat).
- Switch off and remove the chicken pieces from the pot and place them on a flat pan.
- Brush the chicken with the remaining Wet Spice mixture, and roast it on a stovetop or in an oven until lightly browned and charred.
Prepare the mofatah al dajaj
- Meanwhile, to double ensure there is enough broth in the pot to cook the rice, transfer the broth into a measuring cup and adjust accordingly. My rice required 2 cups of water for every cup of rice. I got that exactly, so add or remove liquid as per your rice requirement. If you are an expert, you will know if the broth is enough once you add the rice. Top with more hot water if required.
- Tip the rice into the broth. Bring it to a boil on medium to high flame. Let it boil until there is no liquid on the surface. Reduce the flame to the lowest.
- Stir the rice once and place back the roasted chicken and Kashna or Almond and onion mixture over the rice. Cover the pot with foil and then with a tight lid.
- Slide a heat diffuser or flat pan between the flame and pot. Cook for another 5 to 8 more minutes and switch off. Let it sit unopened for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Serve Mofatah al dajaj hot with buttermilk and salad.