Lebanese chicken and rice (riz Aa djeij)


Riz Aa djeij or chicken and rice is a traditional Lebanese dish generally served for special occasions and is one of the most popular in Lebanon. This dish represents the importance of spices in Lebanese cuisine, garnished with the crispy, roasted pine nuts and almonds which add to it an amazing and distinguished nutty taste, by the way you will notice that pine nuts are used in a large variety of the Lebanese dishes.

Prep. time: 15 mins

Cooking time: 50 mins

Serves: 6

INGREDIENTS:

2 breasts and 2 thighs or 3 breasts

2 1/2 cups rice (long grain)

300 grams ground beef

one medium onion cut in pieces

2 cinnamon sticks

3 bay leaves

1 and a half tsp salt or to taste

3/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp oil

1 tsp of butter

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/3 cup almonds

DIRECTIONS:

Put the chicken in a large pot with water over high heat until it starts boiling then clean all the white froth that comes up, or change the water after the chicken boils for few mins with hot water. Add the salt, the cinnamon sticks, the bay leaves and the onion then let it cook over medium heat for 25 to 30 mins. Set aside the chicken and when it cools down separate them into large pieces and keep the broth for the rice dish.

In another pot fry the meat with the oil, add a pinch of salt and 1/4 allspice until cooked well, now add the washed rice and keep frying it with meat for few mins over low heat. Add 5 cups of chicken broth, the rest of the spices, the cinnamon, the nutmeg and the butter if you wish, it will give it an amazing taste especially if you use only breasts then coverand let it simmer for 15 mins.

How to prepare the nuts: In a skillet stir fry first the pine nuts with few drops of oil over medium to low heat of course because it burns quickly, stirring continuously until golden then set aside. Do the same method for the almonds.

To serve: Put the rice first in a serving dish, on top lay the chicken pieces covering the rice then sprinkle the roasted nuts all over the dish. You can serve it with salad. You are going to enjoy preparing this recipe for your family or guests, it is very light and delicious. you can make sauce if you desire from the chicken broth by adding to a cup or more half a tsp of each flour and corn flour, salt, a dash of allspice, cinnamon and black pepper with a squeeze of lemon, you can add 1/2 tsp of soy sauce to give it a nice darker colour. Boil it for 2 mins over medium heat and serve in a separate bowl and bon appetit!!