#11 Date selected: 5/3/16 Date completed: 8/3/16
Country selected: Egypt
Dining Selection: Cooked Own
What was on the menu:
- Egyptian Boiled Chicken
- Sharkaseya (Walnut Sauce)
- Couscous with Olives and Sun-Dried Tomato
Egypt is a country that I think almost anyone will know – it has such a rich history. The country experienced some of the earliest developments of agriculture, urbanisation, writing, organised religion and central government and boasts iconic relics such as the pyramids and the sphinx. I have very little idea of what the cuisine is like however.
The Arab Republic of Egypt spans the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia with a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula joining the two. A majority of the inhabitants there live near the banks of the Nile River where the only arable land is found, as opposed to the Sahara desert which constitutes the remaining territory.
Not surprisingly, tourism is a huge part of the Egyptian economy. Nearly $11 billion in revenue was earnt in 2008 from the 12.8 million plus tourists that visited that year. About 12% of the country’s workforce is employed in the tourism sector.
According to Wiki, Egyptian relies heavily on vegetable dishes as meat has been very expensive throughout history. Coastal areas such as Alexandria uses a great deal of fish and other seafood, though much of the foods consumed grow out of the ground.
Tuesday 8th March 2016, 5.04pm
Despite the cuisine traditionally being mostly vegetarian, I decided to try a meat dish for my Egyptian challenge. The main reason for this was I found a walnut sauce that fascinated me. It seemed very decadent and I could imagine this being served to the rich in the time of the Pharaohs. The recipe suggested serving it with a boiled chicken and I had a full roast chicken sitting in the freezer so the deal was sealed! Worried that it might be a little plain by itself, I decided to also do a couscous dish with olives and sun dried tomato.
I shouldn’t have been worried at all – the walnut sauce was actually incredibly rich. If anything it was a little too rich for my tastes though, admittedly, I did use quite a lot. It did go well with the chicken and I can imagine it going beautifully with some raw, crunchy vegetables or some crusty bread. I kind of wished I had made a plain green salad to have with it.
The chicken itself was perfectly cooked. I was a little surprised at this actually as it was a rather large chicken and I was concerned that it might be a little under-cooked and was preparing to put it on to boil for a while longer. No need however. Simmering it in the pot for 30 mins then leaving it in the broth and taking it off the heat was enough to cook it through, whilst keeping it moist and tender.
The skin is kept on and ends up quite gelatinous so may not be for everyone. I would suspect that it would tighten and dry out if left to cool for some time however. The chicken is only mildly spiced and leaves behind a tasty, albeit slightly salty stock.
The couscous too is extremely rich. It really packs a punch. Again, I would recommend only ever having it with a plain dish. It’s likely to overpower a lot of other flavours and you may even consider reducing the amount of sun dried tomato and olives that you put in for a milder dish.
I’ll be interested to try the leftovers of all 3 recipes in various combinations over the following days.
But in the meantime, let’s pick the next challenge….
Time to get out the Atlas again I think….!!