Mona Amer’s Charkasseya

A recipe from one of Egypt’s most familiar faces in the kitchen

Beyond her extensive TV appearances and her history of cooking and innovating in the kitchen both through her career and at home for her family, Mona Amer is secretly a history buff. Of course – one of the most interesting aspects of history to her is the history of food. “Most Egyptian dishes that contain protein come from Turkey. In fact, rice pudding itself was a dish the Turks used to make for royalty,” she explains, pointing out that in Egypt we have adopted recipes from Anatolian culture and tailored them to ourselves. While the Turks kept their recipes for the elite, the secret got out in Egypt and families from all walks of life indulge in dishes like charkasseya and rice pudding. Amer goes on to explain that Egyptians knew these dishes were particularly delicious, “This is why rice pudding is so often served on special occasions.”
Circassian Chicken
1 chicken, cleaned out or ¾ kg chicken breasts
6 cups of water
1 onion
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp mistika
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the chicken in the water with the spices. The chicken must be boiled so it can be hand-shredded for this dish. If you are using a whole chicken, put it in cold water with the spices and bring the pot to a boil, then lower the flame until it is cooked. This may be about an hour for a whole chicken, depending on its weight. If you have a meat thermometer, the chicken is done when it reaches 180 degrees. Another telltale sign is if the drumstick is easily detached from the chicken.  For chicken breasts, 30-40 minutes of simmering will do.
Remove chicken from stock and reserve stock.

2 cups of medium, round grain white rice
4 cups of reserved chicken stock

Put 4 cups of reserved chicken stock in a pot and let it boil. Toss in 2 cups of rice and turn the heat to low until the water is absorbed (about 20 minutes). The rice should be a little soggy.

1½ cup walnuts
¾ cup stale white toast with crust removed
1 cup milk
5 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried coriander
A pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp butter

Grind walnuts and soak the stale bread in the milk. Grind the garlic and spices, add the walnuts, add the milk and bread, and then put everything in a food processor until it becomes a paste. Take the paste out and fry it in a spoon of butter for just a few minutes, until you can smell the garlic but not until it is brown.
Add a cup of stock to the paste and let it boil for a few minutes until it becomes a creamy sauce.
Add in the shredded chicken and let the mixture boil for 2-3 minutes.

Spoon rice onto a plate, creating a nice mound.
Pour chicken in sauce over the rice.

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