Today I made a special dinner for a lawyer friend of my daughter’s in exchange for some excellent legal advice. I’d asked what her culinary preference was since I’m familiar with several. She suggested Middle Eastern and mentioned having had Iranian cuisine frequently at home while growing up, perhaps a nanny, so I decided to incorporate dishes or flavors from Iran, Egypt and the Levant and to leave out what I think of as ordinary. Why make tabbouli, chickpea hummus and baba khanouj plus some sort of kabob and call it a Middle Eastern dinner worthy of exchange?
The menu: Chicken and Eggplant/Aubergine Khoresh; Basmati rice with Persian Adwiya seasoning from the Teeny Tiny Spice Company; Artichoke hummus; Egyptian-spiced khubz/flatbread using sesame, cumin, nutmeg et plus; Cucumber, Radish, Celery and Red Onion salad with the lemon and olive oil dressing common to tabbouli; Orange slices with honey and mint. The dessert stacker tray holds my Chewy Walnut Cranberry Bars, some of the lovely Lavender Mini-Teacakes, Jordan almonds and pastel mints. Cold water and tea.
The Chicken and Eggplant Khoresh is layered in the big CorningWare dish. The layers: browned chicken breast with onion and garlic; sliced, sprayed with olio and roasted eggplant, pan-seared red and yellow bell peppers; a tomato sauce seasoned with turmeric and cinnamon poured over. It can be simmered on the top of a stove, but I bake it instead. Less tending to the casserole when there’s plenty of other chores that need attending.
The photo speaks for itself. It’s all chop and slice except for the dressing. Salad marinated for a couple hours in the fridge before dinner.
The orange pieces were spooned onto the cut orange base, drizzled with Pacific Northwest honey, decorated with a strawberry flower and some Clementine segments plus a little fresh Lemon Mint.
Basmati rice topped with chicken and vegetable khoresh, bread with spices to dip into a different-than-usual hummus, a couple salads and a dessert sampler. Put it on a pea-soup green lacy tablecloth and some blue-and-white dishes and away we go.
Update 17 April: My daughter suggested some of my spicy-hot mango-ginger chutney when we had leftover khoresh and rice on Saturday. She was right. It’s a lovely combination, even though not typically offered with the stew. Nevermind that chutney is geographically outside of the Middle East. Cooks and chefs from the Sub-Continent are not in short supply there, nor are the various regional cuisines those men and women bring with them for jobs with higher pay than those at home.