Chicken With Dates
Serves 6. Recipe is from Claudia Roden’s “The Book of Jewish Food.” This Moroccan combination has roots that go back to medieval Baghdad. It is a traditional dish of the Sephardic Jews who trace their roots to Spain and Portugal.
6 chicken quarters
4 tbls. peanut or sunflower oil
2 large onions, coarsely choppped
2 tsps. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. mace
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tbl. honey
Salt and plenty of black pepper
1/2 lb. dates, pitted
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
Pinch of saffron
1/2 cup blanched almonds, toasted or fried
1. In a large pan, sauté the chicken pieces in the oil for a few minutes until lightly colored, turning them once. Remove chicken pieces and add onions. Cook on low heat until soft, then stir in the cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and honey.
2. Add about 1 3/4 cups of water. Stir well. Then return the chicken pieces to the pot. Bring to a boil, add salt and pepper and simmer for 25 minutes.
3. Add dates, lemon juice and saffron and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the chicken is tender. It is important to taste and adjust the seasoning, for the right balance of flavors is a delicate matter in this dish. It usually needs plenty of black pepper to counteract the sweetness.
4. Serve with almonds sprinkled on top.