Friday 9 October 2020

Spiced Chicken And Rice AKA Dajaj Machbous

Yep another recipe from Yasmin Khan!  I've got my money's worth out of that book (Zaitoun).  Well, I borrowed it from the local library, so no actual money was involved :-)  She seems to have a penchant for spicy chicken dishes, as do I.  But I find her recipes a little lacking in flavour for our tastes, so I've added a bit more spice to bling it up.  To be honest, I find her recipes a bit weird in that she doesn't mention the seasoning or water or stock, except in the method.  So suddenly she's talking about adding something you had no idea was coming 'cos it ain't in the list of ingredients.  Oh well, I've added them to my recipe here, so no guessing for you, my friends.

Back in the Dark Ages, when Mr P. and I had knee joints that didn't creak, we had (and still have) a dear friend who was married to an Iranian chap.  She learned to cook many wonderful Iranian dishes for him, which were eaten sitting on the floor (you see, knee joints needed to work).  We were staying with them in Sydney one time, when we suddenly felt the earth move.  And I don't mean like that, you naughty minds.  There had just been an earthquake up the road - well, I mean about 150 kilometres up the road:-)  And we don't have a lot of earthquakes in Australia, so let me tell you, this was a big surprise.  Mr P. and I seem to herald all sorts of interesting events!  That time we just missed the terrorist attack in the London Tube; that protest we accidentally attended in Athens with over 1 million people!; the London hurricane we slept through - we're Queenslanders, so we just thought it was a bit of a storm ...  

pound your spices

Serves 6:


50g. (1.7 oz) pine nuts

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cummin seeds

1/4 tsp (heaped) fenugreek seeds

seeds from 4 or 5 cardamom pods

2 dried black limes or 3-4 tsp black lime powder (loomi) - I used the powder

a hefty half teaspoon of ground turmeric

a hefty half teaspoon of ground allspice

1.5 kg chicken pieces - I used thigh fillets and cutlets

1½ tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbs EV olive oil plus another 2 tbs EV olive oil

1 large brown onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

250g. (8 oz) white basmati rice, rinsed and drained

600 mL (20 oz) just-boiled water 

1/2 tsp chicken stock powder

1 carrot, finely grated

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp dried thyme leaves

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp mace

1/2 tsp mountain pepperberry powder (optional)

an extra 1/2 tsp sea salt if you feel the need

a biiig handful of fresh parsley, chopped

plain yoghurt to serve

eggplant relish (or your fave) to serve, optional


First toss the pine nuts in a small, dry frypan till they are lightly toasted; put aside

Use that small frypan again to toast the coriander, cummin, fenugreek and cardamom seeds

Either put the seeds plus the dried limes, turmeric and allspice into a small food processor or spice grinder, and blitz till you have a chunky powder, or do what I did - whack 'em into a mortar, and pestle away by hand

Now grab a large mixing bowl, chuck in the chicken pieces, toss in HALF the spice mixture plus the sea salt, pepper, and 2 tbs of the olive oil, and mix well with your hands

Warm the other 2 tbs of olive oil in a LARGE frypan/skillet over medium heat till hot; then add the chicken, brown on all sides and cook away for 8-10 minutes

Set aside the chicken (i.e. take the pieces out of the pan), and now add the onion, and cook, stirring now and then, for about ten minutes

Stir in the garlic, and let it cook for a few minutes

In goes the washed and drained rice, the just-boiled water, the stock powder, the carrot, the salt, and the other half of the spice mix plus the extra spices (that I decided to include) - cinnamon, thyme, ginger, mace, mountain pepperberry (and an extra half tsp sea salt if you wish)

Give it all a really hefty stir together, add the chicken pieces back in, and cook, covered, for about half an hour or till the chicken is tender and the rice cooked

Let it breathe off the heat for 5 minutes, then scatter over the parsley and pine nuts

Serve with the yoghurt and relish if using


I bought the dried black lime powder (loomi) online from a spice shop

Use whatever type of chicken pieces you prefer; Mr P. doesn't like skin or bones, so I generally go for thigh fillets.  For this dish, I had some fillets, and some cutlets (with skin and bone) so I used a mix of both

I transferred the chicken to a biiiiig saucepan, and cooked it in that 'cos my frypan was just that wee bit too small

If it starts to look dry during cooking, add a wee bit more water or stock

Regular readers will understand why I added the eggplant relish as a garnish:-)  Yep, I've got jars of the stuff sitting in the fridge ...

de-seed the cardamom pods

toast the spices

pound away

mix with the turmeric and allspice

add the olive oil to the spices

brown and cook the chicken for 8-10 mins,

rice, water, carrot, + other half of the spice mix in with the garlic + onion

chicken pieces on top

topped with toasted pine nuts

© Sherry's Pickings


  1. With all those wonderful spices, this has got to be very flavourful and tasty! More toasted pine nuts for me please :-)

    1. it is a very spicy and warming dish angie. yep pine nuts are the go!:-)

  2. I always read recipes all the way through before trying them because it is always irritating when some rather important ingredient pops up in the middle of a recipe and you had no idea it was coming. I've learned. :-) Anyway, this looks good -- nicely balanced flavor. Thanks!

  3. I always hate when recipes aren't balanced between the instructions and the ingredients! To me, that's just lazy writing. I'm glad you finished the job here, Sherry - and this dish sounds fantastic! I'm intrigued by the black lime powder. I've never heard of that before. Also, you have quite the history - terror attacks, hurricanes, earthquakes!?

    1. hi david
      yes hubby and i do have a bit of a history with such things. we must be the harbingers of doom:-) Black lime powder is a tangy item. limes are dried till they're like rocks! i thought the powder would be easier to deal with!

  4. This sounds absolutely delicious Sherry, all those wonderful spices...oh my! It made my mouth water.

    1. thanks so much liz. yes it is a tasty and spicy dish!

  5. love the Indian spices in the chicken, and the mortar, and pestle technique used to prepare the spice powder. Rice combination with the chicken is so tempting , I am hearing this dried black lime powder, and pepperberry powder for the first time, would love to try them, Thanks for sharing it!

    1. hi aarthi
      yes it was fun pounding up the spices. mountain pepperberries are an australian native berry, which grow in the mountains. they have a lovely fruity spicy taste. yep loomi was new to me too. tangy!

  6. wow does this look delicious. I'll have to look into her books. We have lots of earthquakes where I live, but I'll never get used to them.

    1. hi mimi
      yes earthquakes are not fun. we had one in brisbane years ago - omg it was sooooo loud!!

  7. Well it's all happening in this dish Sherry, love this combination of spices and it seems the same kind of method as a biryani. I'll try and source that black lime powder locally, otherwise did you buy it from the name on the bottle, Small Batch? Perhaps Herbies might have it. I want a good curry now, the older I get the more flavour I want. Strange eh? Thanks so much for this one. Great with eggplant or mango chutney I reckon. Wish we could swap chutneys!

    1. hi pauline
      you can buy loomi from herbie's online which is what i did! hard to buy in the shops. yes as i get older my tastebuds are dying off so i need stronger and stronger flavours - and lots of salt! this dish went very well with my eggplant relish! pre-covid i would have said let's mail a chutney to each other but the mail is sooooo slow these days...

  8. I think I'd like this version as I like strong flavours. That is very odd about the recipe. Perhaps she just needed a good editor. It's amazing what one misses (I know all too well!).

    1. several of her recipes that i've made have the same issue. but yes i agree it is so very easy to miss steps or ingredients when writing a recipe!

  9. Sherry, I just experienced the same issue with a well known Swedish cookery book writer. I read through the recipe prior to cooking it and the ingredients shown didn't reflect the chicken stock or wine addition call out in the instructions. Then it just said add the water and wine. I had no idea how much so I winged it. The dish turned out OK, but I'll not try another recipe of hers.
    Your dish looks to be a tummy warmer. I wish I could still eat spicy dishes.

    1. oh dear. your tum can't take spices? that is very sad indeed. yes what is it with these food writers? i know it's easy to miss things but ... they are being paid for it after all :-)

  10. What a long list of spices but this sounds like it would be delicious and worth it. I am saving the recipe for a cold wet day when I want wonderful smells in a cozy kitchen.

    1. yep but it's easy to make liz. and yes it's full of good smells:)

  11. Oh yum, winner, winner, chicken dinner! This looks delish! I love the combo of spices you've used - how weird that she's produced a cookbook and missed out some of the most essential ingredients. Lucky you've saved the day with this recipe :)

    1. thanks sammie. yes her recipes are a leetle odd sometimes.


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