Wednesday 30 May 2012

Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music... Ad Infinitum

Well, well, well. So, summer's finally here. And me, the eternal contrarian is not celebrating it with an al fresco salad but with this beauty by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: spiced chicken with dates.

Part of my mission as a parent is to introduce my little ones to different types of food every now and then. The minute I saw this recipe I knew I was onto a winner. Still, I wasn't quite sure how my two children would react to dates as the dried has usually been touch'n'go with them. There have been times when they've been really into dates and some others when they've gone off them. This time around, though, they were licking their fingers at the end. Maybe the chicken helped a bit.

This is one of those dishes where the joy comes from the cooking process. The aromatic combination of onions, garlic, cumin, coriander and cinnamon is enough to bring a touch of summer to the darkest of winters. And the music ain't 'alf bad either, innit?

Photograph: Colin Campbell for the Guardian

Spiced chicken with dates

4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 chicken, jointed (or about 1.5kg chicken pieces)
2 onions, peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cinnamon
150g long-grain rice
80g red or green lentils, rinsed
700ml chicken stock, hot
12 dates, pitted
1 small bunch fresh coriander, stalks removed, leaves picked and torn
20g blanched almonds, toasted

Heat the oil over a medium-high heat in a large casserole. Season the chicken, brown all over and set aside.

Lower the heat and tip the onions and bay leaves into the pan. Sauté, stirring from time to time, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, ground coriander and cinnamon, and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the rice and lentils, stir for a minute until everything is well coated. Return the chicken to the pan, pour over the hot stock, season, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Stir in the dates, cover again and simmer for 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the rice and lentils are tender. Remove from the heat, taste and adjust the seasoning, and stir in most of the fresh coriander. Serve with the remaining coriander and flaked almonds scattered over the top.

My first musical number tonight is by an indie band that exudes panache and passion. Ladies and gents, I present to you Spoon's My Mathematical Mind. Who would have thought that rockers made good mathematicians, too? Enjoy.

When Willis Earl Beal came on Jools Holland's show a few weeks, I had to stop ironing straight away (one of my favourite housechores, by the way. I get to watch telly whilst doing it. Don't ask me about creases, though). This guy has an aura when he sings that commands silence and attention. His voice reminds me of the powerful combination of different spieces cooking in the pot. For you, my dear readers and fellow bloggers, Evening's Kiss. Enchanting.

My last choice is all about "dem good ol' days". Remember The Sundays? Remember when this song made your heart skip a beat? This is what I call comfort music and hopefully that spiced chicken will become your comfort food, too, because it's already mine. The Sundays' Here's Where The Story Ends. Nostalgic.

© 2012

Next Post: “Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music”, to be published on Sunday 3rd June at 10am 9GMT)


  1. It's been some time since you've posted a recipe, Cuban! This one looks very tasty -- and the music is delightful, as always.

  2. I could never enjoy ironing (although I almost weakened momentarilily during the craze for "extreme ironing"). I keep one tucked away for the very occasional moments when decorum demands I just have to use it.

  3. This sounds quite superb to me. I can see how you would know this to be a winner. Must give it a try myself - no kids to worry about these days!

  4. Thanks a lot for your kind comments.

    Greetings from London.



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