Recently a friend asked me, where do I get my recipe inspiration from. We were talking about iftars
(menu for breaking fast) and that question made me paused for a bit. The more I thought of it the more I realised something poignant, the food that I prepare for my family today is not only the reflection of my mom’s cooking and my childhood but it is also an entangled web of memories of travels, memories of friends even from primary school, the hordes of magazines, fiction reading and even my old canteen lady. How each and every person contributed so much to the palate, and how cooking for one has now become cooking for family, and with marriage comes the intercontinental aspect of satisfying the other half’s craving, no matter how much you detest the food!
Truthfully my inspiration comes from simple everyday things. Like an impromptu trip that we made to the nearby wholesale butchery in the mad quest of halal lamb racks, and the pleasant surprises that awaited me there. Amidst the dusty shelves of gigantic olive oil jars, sat the humble chipotle sauce. This one was never in my pantry before, I did not know how it would results in meals as all I knew of it is in Subway sandwiches.
The experiement began, and a night-of-brining later, this juicy succulent roast chicken made its way to our dining table.
If you are new to brining, read on and if you aren’t I am sure you would agree with how delicious this technique is in roasting chicken. Brining requires a bit of effort in the sense that the concoction of salted water infused with spices will be prepared the night prior to roasting; it is however the surest way of injecting flavours to the poultry, and don’t worry, the salt will be literally washed away.
My brining formula is simple. 1/4 cup of table salt or 1/2 cup of sea salt will be simmered with 2 cups of water, and infused further with 3 tbsp of sugar, dash of chill flakes, fresh thyme, a tsp of dried oregano and lemon. 2 cups are generally enough for a small chicken, but feel free to add on quantity to ensure the chicken is fully immerse in the cooled brine, preferably overnight. Then the next day, chicken is washed, and marinated further with preferred flavours of marinade for just 2 hours, or just sprinkle with salt and black pepper for roasting.
The marinade this time use chipotle sauce as the star ingredient, mixed with plain greek yogurt, salt, oregano and paprika for added heat. The bursting Mexican flavour complements really well with the easy couscous stuffing, which is sealed with half cut apple!
I know this is not a classic iftar dish, but to answer my friend’s question, this is my kind of inspiration that fills our house with exotic flavours, which either reminds me of home or foreign travels of the bygone.