Too cheesy? Fine. But really, this recipe is delicious. So far, everyone who is open-minded about offal and has tried it ends up liking it. I’m quite sensitive to meats that have a strong taste or smell, so the fact that I like this also says a lot. I’m excited about posting this recipe because I consider it a pretty big accomplishment to be able to make innards that actually taste good. I don’t know how to cook things like lungs or tripe, but for livers, hearts, and gizzards, this is definitely my go-to method.*
A note on how I clean these things: in most countries, when you buy gizzards they come with a little piece of weird-looking yellowish brown skin on them. I don’t have a picture of it, but you’ll spot it instantly. To clean the gizzards, just peel this bit off. Then wash the cleaned gizzards in cold water, pour the juice of a lemon on them, and let them soak in the lemon juice for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water again, and they’re ready to use. Here’s what they should look like after the cleaning process:
For hearts, I make little slits in them and remove any congealed blood that’s inside. An easier way to do this is to just cut each one in half, but if I have the time, I like to try and maintain their shape by keeping them whole. Just like with the gizzards, I rinse them in cold water, soak them in lemon juice, and re-rinse.
For livers, you don’t need to do any kind of special cleaning. Just do the rinse, soak in lemon, re-rinse thing, and handle them carefully because they’re delicate.
Also, I usually cook gizzards separately, and hearts and livers together. The gizzards take longer to soften, so the cooking technique is slightly different. You can also cook each item separately if you want. And as usual, all the ingredients listed here are adjustable to taste; these are just approximations of how I tend to prefer them. Add or decrease any spices or herbs as you wish :)
And did I mention this recipe is literally done in 20 minutes? Major plus.
1 pound of gizzards, cleaned and cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon each of chopped garlic and chopped fresh ginger (you can use garlic ginger paste if you have it)
3 teaspoons each of black pepper, ground red chili pepper, and mixed baharat (can substitute Seven Spice mix or allspice)
pinch of yellow curry powder (optional)
3 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped (can substitute dry rosemary if you don’t have fresh, but using fresh is best!)
2-3 mild green chili peppers, chopped (increase if you like it hotter)
salt to taste
oil for cooking
chopped cilantro for garnishing (optional)
1. Heat a skillet or frying pan, preferably nonstick. Put in your gizzards and let them cook on medium heat until all the liquid they release dries up.
2. Then, add about half a cup of warm water, cover, and let cook on medium heat until tender. Check on them frequently, adding more water if they get too dry before cooking fully. Once they are cooked to desired tenderness, either add or cook off the liquid in the pot depending on how much sauce you want. I prefer the dish a little drier, but it’s your call.
3. Turn up the heat under your pan, add a couple spoonfuls of oil, and get them sizzling. Add the garlic and ginger, your spices, the chopped chilies, and the rosemary. Keep frying them until they get nice and crispy, and the liquid in the pan thickens up a bit. Add salt to taste, then garnish with more chopped green chilies or chopped cilantro. Serve hot with bread and french fries or steak fries.
Hearts and Livers:
1 pound combined of hearts and livers (livers should be cut into bite sized pieces)
The rest of the ingredients are exactly the same as above. To cook, follow the same steps for gizzards but skip step 2.
Try it. You might just change your mind about innards.
* In Palestinian Arabic, gizzards are called awaniss, livers are kibdat, and hearts are qlub.
I love this simple, delicious chicken soup that stands out because of the distinct flavor of cardamom. If you love a bowl of steaming hot chicken soup but want to try something new, this is the recipe for you.
Orzo or risi pasta is used to give the soup body. In Arabic, this small, rice-shaped pasta is called lsaan 3asfour, or “bird tongues,” because of its shape. I remember eating this excellent soup at my Taita’s house in Egypt, amazed at the thought that I was consuming tiny bird tongues!
approx 1/2 cup of orzo/risoni, or risi pasta
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
2 cups of excellent quality chicken stock
1 small onion or shallot
1 tsp of black pepper
1 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp of allspice (optional)
salt to taste
In a pot, heat the oil. Add the pasta and sautee it for a couple of minutes.
Add the chicken stock. Put the onion in whole. Add the spices, and salt to taste.
Let simmer for a few minutes. Before serving, remove the onion.
Serve with a salad for a light meal.
Variation: In pot, sautee a medley of chopped fresh vegetables (onion, carrot, zucchini, green bean, potato) in some olive oil. When slightly softened, add chicken broth, cardamom, and salt&pepper to taste. Let simmer for a few minutes then serve.
I have been waiting for a looong time to post a recipe for kabsa, because I absolutely LOVE it. Kabsa combines fragrant, spiced hot rice with tender meat/chicken, and a very exciting (and spicy!) tomato chili sauce on the side. I can’t get enough kabsa! It’s also incredibly easy to make, and is a great dish to serve if you have a lot of people to feed. Serve it piled high on a huge platter, decorated with raisins and toasted almonds, and you’ve got a serious feast for your guests. We serve fresh yogurt, a simple salad, and a hot tomato-chili sauce on the side to complete the meal.
Kabsa is known as being a traditional Saudi Arabian dish, although some say it originated in Yemen. Other Gulf countries, like Kuwait and the UAE, make a variation of kabsa but they call it machboos. In Jordan, Palestinian families have started making it, and it has become very popular, especially for people who like their food with some heat in it! It is most commonly made with meat (usually lamb), but I like it a lot with chicken. My aunt Hanan makes absolutely amazing chicken kabsa, and I’m very happy to share her recipe with you now :) I know a lot – most? – Saudi recipes don’t add tomato to the stock that the rice is cooked in, but my aunt does, and it tastes very flavorful this way. I’ve made this recipe many times and it’s perfect! Make. This. Dish.
A couple notes:
Kabsa is usually made with basmati rice. I have found that for my aunt’s recipe, American long grain seems to work better. Basmati just ends up being a bit dry for my taste, but you can use basmati if you prefer it.
Kabsa requires a special mix of spices. If you live in an Arab country, just ask for “kabsa spice mix” at the spice market/spice section of store. In the US, most Arabic/Middle Eastern grocery stores sell prepared kabsa spices, but I think making your own mix is just as easy and is definitely more fresh.
Here is how to make a kabsa spice mix (the spices will differ from household to household):
Process equal parts of the following spices in a spice grinder/food processor:
ground red pepper or red pepper flakes
also, 2-3 small dried black lemons
also, a lesser amount of ground cinnamon
Alternatively, you can just combine all of the above ingredients if you buy them each ground and ready to go. Also, lessen the amount of peppers used if you like it less hot.
And now, for Unbelievable Chicken Kabsa:
1 chicken, washed properly and cut up into 4-6 pieces (or you can use a package of thighs or whatever cut you like best)
1 large onion, finely chopped
4-5 tablespoons of vegetable oil for browning the onions in
5-6 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
Kabsa spice mix
extra teaspoon of turmeric
extra cardamom pods for extra flavor (crack each pod open slightly with your teeth so the flavorful seeds can get into the food)
4 bay leaves
salt to taste
approx 2 pounds of American long grain rice (wash it, soak for about 15 mins, then drain off the water)
Sautee the onions in the vegetable oil until soft and transparent.
Add the pieces of chicken, and let them brown. Add the chopped tomatoes, the spices, the tomato paste, the cardamom pods, the extra teaspoon of turmeric, the bay leaves and salt to taste to the pot.
Pour in warm water until the chicken is just covered, and give it a stir. Turn the flame up to high. Let the contents of the pot come to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the pot.
Let the chicken cook – about half an hour.
When thoroughly cooked, scoop the pieces of chicken out of the pot and put off to the side. Pour the rice into the pot of spiced tomato-chicken stock. Turn up the flame, let it come to a boil, then cover the pot and turn the heat way down to very low. Add some more salt here if you want. Let the rice cook for about 15 minutes, then check it, picking at it with a fork. If it’s dry but is still not cooked, add some more water and re-cover. If it’s cooked, you’re done!
To serve: (reheat the chicken pieces in the oven upon serving)
We pile the rice high on a large serving platter, then arrange the pieces of chicken on top. Sprinkle fat yellow raisins and golden toasted almonds on top for garnish (I don’t like raisins so I always leave them out).
Sides you must serve with kabsa:
Simple green salad: diced tomato and cucumber mixed with chopped lettuce and parsley, dressed with lemon juice, salt, and a bit of olive oil.
Our version of Daqous: a spicy tomato chili sauce. To make our version of Daqous: in a blender, puree 2 large tomatoes, 4 large cloves of garlic, one hot green chili pepper, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Serve immediately.
Yeah. Chicken Kabsa. Must eat now.
Shawerma sandwiches are a staple fast-food item in Jordan. Shawerma can be made with either chicken or “meat” (mixture of lamb and beef); the former is more common here though. The shawerma is layered onto a long, rotating skewer to roast, and is then shaved off to order into warm loaves of pita bread. French fries are usually added, and if the restaurant is really good, some garlic sauce. I always seem to get a shawerma craving right after midnight, when everything is closed, so my aunt Hala suggested I just make it at home! Here is her method for homemade chicken shawerma. It’s really simple to make, especially if you have cooked leftover chicken and don’t know what to do with it.
Note: If using leftover chicken, shred it and skip directly to step 4.
1 chicken, whole or cut into pieces
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Spices: a tablespoon each of mixed baharat or allspice, black pepper, coriander and a half tablespoon each of ground ginger, cinnamon, yellow curry powder, cardamom, cumin, turmeric
Salt to taste
Small piece of fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
2 fresh spicy green chili peppers (optional)
Shrak bread or pita bread (use thin, soft pitas to ease rolling up the sandwiches, but the thicker kind can be used too; can also substitute flour tortillas)
5 cloves of crushed garlic
French fries, pickles to add into the sandwiches (optional)
1. Wash the raw chicken thoroughly. We usually rub it with salt and lemon juice (or vinegar), then rinse the chicken with water to make sure it gets really clean. This also gets rid of the zanakhah, or the undesirable smell that chicken often has. Make 2-3 long cuts on each piece of chicken, or all over if using a whole bird.
2. Rub the chicken with 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, sprinkle with some salt, then rub on three quarters of the mixture of spices. Make sure to get the oil and spices into the long cuts so the flavor penetrates the meat thoroughly.
3. Put the chicken in a roasting pan and roast for about an hour, or until the chicken is cooked. After it cools, pick all the meat off the bones and shred it, or coarsely chop it with a knife. Also roughly chop the chili peppers, including the seeds, if you want the shawerma to be spicy.
4. In a frying pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil. When it’s hot, add two cloves of crushed garlic, the shredded chicken, the chopped chili peppers, the chopped fresh ginger, and the rest of the spices. Saute it all thoroughly until the chicken starts to get crispy around the edges. Add some salt if needed.
Your chicken shawerma is done! Mix the remaining crushed garlic with the mayonnaise, then spread some on the pita bread. Stuff the bread with the chicken. Finally, you can put some french fries and pickles in each sandwich if you’d like. I sometimes add lettuce but that is not traditional at all. For best results, press your sandwich in a sandwich press – this can also be done on a hot, greased griddle or nonstick frying pan by pressing the sandwich down with a heavy pan.