Thursday, May 1, 2008

Taste & Create! Chicken Mechbous

This month was my first participation in Taste & Create, hosted by Nicole of For The Love Of Food. Taste & Create is a food EVENT in which participants are randomly paired up and tasked with preparing a dish from their partner's blog. I was paired with Dita of My Culinary Sanctuarium, whose blog lists her location as Kuwait. My initial reaction: what language is this blog written in?? Thankfully the recipes are somewhat in English. Since I originally presumed she was from Kuwait, and there was an authentic Kuwaiti recipe, I decided to go the "ethnic" route. I planned to prepare Chicken Mechbous, for which all ingredients except one, called loomi, are readily available here.

After an exhaustive Internet search, I finally found a website called that sells loomi, or dried black limes, although they are (mistakenly) marketed as "lemons," and are referred to by their Iranian name, omani. I found them! Whole, and ground, so I ordered both; the store is in L.A., and ships UPS, so I am excited! I am anticipating we will like this recipe, and I also found a sort of tea/drink recipe using the whole limes, so I'm anxious to try that as well. Later, after all this loomi searching business, I found out Dita is actually an Indonesian living in Kuwait. By then I was committed to the loomi, and to the Chicken Mechbous!

Oh! The drama! Awaiting my UPS package of loomi, we had a new driver "deliver" that day, and he left my package in a random truck on the ranch! Luckily, the owner of the random truck noticed the package in his truck, just before he left for the Big City (five hours away!). UPS got a complaint email, and I got my loomi! (and some other Middle Eastern treats: rose water, sesame cardamom candy and Chocodates!)

Incidentally, you'll notice that the label on the jar says "Ground Lemon (Omani)" but the ingredient list actually says "Lemon Omani ground is made from dried whole lime." Hmmmm.


So began my culinary journey. Having never had any sort of Kuwaiti food before, I honestly had no idea what to expect. I used a regular American-sized whole chicken, since Cornish hens, which are apparently closer in size to a Kuwaiti chicken, are not available in my small town grocery. A smaller chicken would have been much easier to maneuver in a frying pan!

The ingredients look simple. Deceptively so! This is an involved dish, which required the use of many pans. One to boil the chicken. Another in order to strain the broth. (I used the broth-straining pan to cook the rice!) Another to prepare the onions spiced with cardamom and loomi, and yet another to prepare the tomato sauce. Whew. I hope I can talk someone else into doing dishes tonight! (Thank you, Number One!)

The chicken has a delicate, yet savory flavor. You must eat all components of the dish together: the rice topped with spiced onions topped with chicken topped with tomatoes. I was tempted to throw a couple of my whole loomi limes into the broth, but didn't. I was also tempted to add more than 1/4 teaspoon ground loomi to the onion mixture but I didn't. Next time, I will.

I will definitely make this again, using much smaller chickens and more spices! My favorite part was the spiced onions--I will be thinking of different ways to use them! Overall, a delicious meal which stirs up my intrigue for more Kuwaiti/Middle Eastern dishes. (not to mention, I have a ton of loomi to use up!)

P.S. There is a new Taste & Create Event each month! Go here for the rules, and sign up by the 8th day of the month if you'd like to participate!


jj said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. I've never had kuwaiti food, either. Sounds very intriguing.

ejm said...

This is great. I love that you were so determined to make that dish that ordered the loomi online!

This really does sound good. The spiced onions sound especially amazing. Thanks for making Chicken Mechbous!


Kristen said...

What a great event and your contribution was really worth the effort in the end :)

Cheryl said...

Looks really good. Can't wait to try it.

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