Spiced Stew + Cardamom-Ginger Rice


I find myself preparing a lot of the same meals throughout the week. Staples, if you will. Usually it involves warm rice, fresh greens, herbs, toasted nuts + seeds in a bowl with a drizzle of home-made dressing on top. I enjoy eating simple meals, finding ways of incorporating medicinal herbs as much as I can and having all the ingredients prepared ahead of time. This way, I always have something nourishing to eat when I come home and don't fall into the trap of, "Oh lord, I'm starving and stressed because I'm hungry and there is nothing to eat!" Some call this,  'getting hangry.' That stressed and irritated feeling (hungry+angry) that you get, but can't seem to figure out why. Then, you eat something and its like the whole world changed. Yeah, that's the 'hangry' hitting you. Wanting to switch up my routine a bit, I was inspired by an old issue of Diner Journal all about creating menus. The issue included past menus from the iconic Chez Panisse in Berkley, old Chinese take-out menus and  imaginary menus that haven't even been served yet! What I loved about this issue was how all of the menus drew from seasonal ingredients, were simple to prepare and had a lot of  intention.

In this way, cooking is art. The act of creating something, sharing something and feeding ourselves from that. It's quiet beautiful when we really think about it. Preparing food can be an act of self-love, a way to relax and to express if we allow it to be.

A recipe for Braised Chicken with Apricots and Tomatoes paired with Cardamon Couscous caught my eye so in the kitchen I went to recreate it.  The recipe below is a spin-off of the version in the Diner Journal. I use a bit of fresh citrus juice, chopped dates and golden raisins for sweetness and rice instead of couscous. I also had created a quick cilantro sauce to add a bit of freshness on top.

This is the kind of dish that gets better with age. I tend to make a good size batch and enjoy it for a few days. It's lovely for breakfast, served on toast, with a runny egg and a good sprinkle of feta.

*For a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock instead of chicken, use a plant protein to replace the chicken or just let the sweetness of the tomatoes be the main feature.


Spiced Chicken Stew 

1 TBS ghee

1 onion

1 small knob of ginger, peeled and minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp cumin, seed or ground

2 tsp, coriander

1 tsp cinnamon

pinch of red pepper flakes

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces

1 can whole tomatoes

2 cups chicken stock

juice of 1 tangerine

small handful of chopped dates and/or golden raisins

salt to taste

In a soup pot on medium heat, melt the ghee,  add the onion, garlic, ginger and spices, stirring every few minutes . Once onions become soft, add in the chicken, stirring so it doesn't get too brown. After a few minutes, pour in the tomatoes, stock, tangerine juice, dates and raisins. Turn the heat to low and let cook for about 20-30 minutes. Taste the stew, adding in a teaspoon of salt if needed, and adjust the flavor of the spices to your liking.

Serve over cardamom ginger rice and top with cilantro sauce. 

Cardamom-Ginger Rice 

1 cup jasmine rice, soaked overnight and rinsed

2 cups water

3 cardamom pods

1 small knob of ginger, peeled and minced

1 TBS ghee

salt to taste

In a small pot add all ingredients, cover and bring to a boil. Let boil for a few minutes then remove from heat, keeping covered. Fluff the rice with a fork and remove cardamom pods just before serving.

Garlic Cilantro sauce 

I bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

 It keeps for a few days in the fridge stored in a small mason jar.