Today we are in the kitchen with the Chef Muhanad who looks after the kitchen of The Canteen, located in Aloft City Centre Deira, Dubai. Having just launched a new menu, Chef Muhanad takes us through the thought process and preparing some of the dishes.
While chef Muhanad is giving out instructions in the kitchen, the sounds of knifes cutting and the sizzles of the braided chicken on the extra virgin olive oil heaping through with the simmering paneer curry in the next work station. “I am thinking Arabic. Why not even Emirati. It’s called Chicken Tahta, which is an Emirati version of a biryani. It’s simple, it’s comforting, and most importantly, filled with flavor especially in the chicken. It’s all in the crispy skin which holds all the delicious juicy flavors in the dish.”
The Canteen serves approachable “bowl meals” for everyone and “bowl-sharing” for a crowd
Chef then adds: “We want to add local flavours into our bowls. We also want to serve vegans bowls, which are our bigger focus nowadays. Our dishes promote different and unique flavours and are healthy, organic and authentic. We want to guide our guests around the world with our new variety of bowls.”
Here are the ingredients and the method to cook chicken Tahta for 4 servings:
1kg basmati rice, soaked
4 chicken breast
5 black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cardamom pods
2 tbsp. ghee
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 green chili peppers (or to taste), chopped
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 tbsp. Emirati spices
4 loumi (dried lime), peeled and chopped
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. coriander powder
1 tbsp. cumin powder
1/2 tbsp. saffron
1/2 tbsp. turmeric
Handful of mixed nuts for garnishing
Chicken Tahta Recipe (Emirati Version of biryani)
1. Cook the soaked rice in boiling water with the black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds and a tablespoon of ghee, until the rice is 75% cooked. Drain and set aside, adding another tablespoon of ghee to prevent the rice from sticking together.
2. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan, add the finely chopped onions, garlic and the chillies and cook over medium heat for 4-6 minutes, until softened but not coloured.
3. Add the tomatoes, Emirati spices, the loumi, tomato paste, cumin and coriander powder, saffron and approximately 50ml water. Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the chicken to the pan, stirring gently and reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for a couple more minutes.
5. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add the turmeric and sauté after a minute.
6. Heat a final tablespoon of oil in a large casserole dish, and half the rice to the pan and spread out over the base of the pan. Add the chicken mixture and finish with a final layer of rice. Pour over the turmeric and oil mixture, cover with a lid and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes more, until the rice is fluffy.
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