Delights From The Garden Of Eden

After chatting with professor Nawal Nasrallah about Ramadan in Iraq where we explored the cultural traditions of Ramadan over there (on this link) and the Iraqi foods of Ramadan to include the pantry and the menus (on this link), it was only fair to delight your taste buds with some of the foods mentioned in those posts. So we are sharing with you this recipe from her book ‘Delights from The Garden of Eden‘ which professor Nawal has very generously agreed to shared with us here.

She said: “For a recipe to share with you, I choose ‘Chicken with Red Rice’, a nourishing and delicious dish. It is very convenient to cook as the stew sauce comes as a by-product of the dish itself, as you will see. It is very cooling in the summer, especially when served with yogurt.”

This is how it’s made…


Serves: 6
  • 6 chicken portions of your choice (about 3 lb/ 1.35 kg), trimmed and skinned if wished
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 heaping tablespoons tomato paste (one 6-oz/ 180-g can) diluted in 6 cups (1.50 litres) hot water
  • 1 teaspoon prepared noomi Basra (dried lime)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 to 5 cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups (16 oz/ 450 g) rice, washed, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes, then drained well
For garnish
  • sliced boiled eggs
  • toasted slivered almonds fried briefly with raisins

In a non-stick skillet, brown chicken pieces in oil, turning once to allow to brown on both sides, about 6 minutes. Arrange browned pieces in bottom of a heavy medium pot.

In the oil remaining in the skillet, sauté the onion until transparent, about 5 minutes. Scatter the onion on the chicken pieces in the pot. Add to the pot the diluted tomato paste, noomi Basra, coriander, salt, pepper, cardamom and bay leaf. Bring to a quick boil, and then reduce heat to low, and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes.

Take out the chicken pieces, and set aside at a warm place until serving time. Measure the remaining liquid. You need 4 cups (950 ml) for cooking the rice; the rest can be served in a bowl as extra sauce.

Put the drained rice in a heavy medium pot. Pour the measured 4 cups of liquid, and bring to a quick boil, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, fold rice gently, then let it simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, folding rice gently 2 or 3 times to allow it to fluff.

To serve

Place the rice in a platter and surround it with the chicken pieces. Garnish with egg halves, almonds and raisins. Put any leftover sauce in a bowl and serve it with rice accompanied by a bowl of yogurt.


Meet Professor Nawal Nasrallah

She is the published author of Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and History of the Iraqi Cuisine, a new edition of which has just been released.

Professor Nawal is also the author of the food blog “In My Iraqi Kitchen” in which she writes about the Iraqi cuisine across the centuries, from Mesopotamian times, through medieval, and to the present. A blog that is really worth exploring, especially for those who are serious about their food knowledge, as Iraqi cuisine is one through which you understand so many other cuisines, especially the origin of recipes.

This recipe and pictures are provided by Professor Nawal Nasrallah and are her property. They are published on this blog with her permission. Please do not copy or use them without her permission.

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