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Bateel Skycraper


The Taste of Home

The Taste of Home

Issue 87 December 2011

Smell is the sense most linked to memory. The rich smells of food bring to mind memories of our childhood. Fatema Zehra handpicks traditional homemade Palestinian dishes which evoke memories of home and community for the Palestinian Diaspora.


Photography Steven Lawson



750g chicken
2 large eggplants
3-4 potatoes, sliced
2 onions, chopped
650g Basmati rice
5-6 garlic cloves
1650ml water
Handful of pine nuts or almonds, roasted
2 tsp black pepper  
2 tsp dried cumin
3 tsp dried cinnamon
2 tsp dried cardamom
2 tsp dried turmeric
2 tsp ground allspice
Salt to taste


Food Palestine

Mix the chicken with one teaspoon of the allspice, leaving to marinate for half an hour.
Cut the eggplant into one centimetre thick slices, and then soak in salted water for half an hour. Then take each slice, pat dry using kitchen paper. Heat the oil in a large bottomed pan and deep-fry the eggplant until golden brown. After frying, remove the excess oil using kitchen paper.
In the same oil, fry the potatoes until crispy golden brown. Remove and drain the excess oil, and set aside for later. Do the same for the chopped onions and garlic cloves, making sure not to over fry.
Similarly, add a few tablespoons of oil in a pan and brown the chicken pieces. When the chicken is more than half done, add the water and cook on a medium flame. The spices released from the chicken provide the broth for the rice. Next remove the chicken pieces, and keep the broth for a later process.
Place the rice in water and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
For the assembly, take a large bottomed pan, and place the chicken pieces tightly and closely packed at the bottom. Next place a layer of the eggplant, then a layer of the potato slices, followed by the fried onions and garlic.
Remove the rice and drain well. Place the rice over the onions and garlic and sprinkle with turmeric powder, along with the rest of the allspice and salt.
Next, gently pour over the reserved chicken stock making sure not to disassemble the arrangement.
Cook at a medium heat until the broth is boiling, cooking the rice. Alternatively use a rice cooker to arrange the layers and cook the dish. The cooking time will vary dependant on the rice – keep checking it until you are satisfied.
Remove from heat, cover and set aside the rice for 15 minutes.
For this particular dish, the presentation is key and can be slightly tricky. Place a large serving plate that covers the entire circumference of the cooking dish over the top of the dish, face down.
Whilst holding the plate tightly over the top, carefully flip the dish over onto the serving dish. Tap the bottom of the dish lightly and remove it slowly. You should be left with an arrangement of layers starting with the chicken at the top.
Garnish with roasted pine nuts or cashews or almonds, dependant on your preference.
Serve hot with yoghurt or salad.

Batata Harra

450g potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 red or green pepper, diced
Chilli peppers, diced (to taste)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp dried coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh coriander (optional)

Place potatoes in a bowl, cover with cold water and set aside. This will help remove some of the starch.
Heat a large heavy skillet over low heat. Add one tablespoon of the olive oil and cook the onion until softened, for approximately five minutes. Add the peppers and chilli, and continue to cook until vegetables are soft. Then add the garlic and cook for another two minutes. Remove vegetables from the skillet and set aside.
Drain the potatoes and dry them with a clean kitchen towel. Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet over a low heat and fry the potato cubes, turning now and then, until they are lightly browned, approximately 20 minutes.

Drizzle two tablespoons of water around the edge of the skillet and immediately cover the potatoes with a lid. Cook for five minutes; remove lid and test potatoes to see if they are cooked through.
When the potatoes are cooked, add the vegetable mixture back into the skillet and mix thoroughly. Season with dried coriander, cayenne, salt and pepper.
Add the fresh coriander, if using, and serve warm.


To read more mouth-watering recipes in our Food feature, as well as gain access to exclusive videos, plus behind the scenes footage and more interactive content, log on to to get your digital issue today.  

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