Friday, May 12, 2006

Not Too Spicy Chicken Recipe - What Kids Will Eat

Today I decided to go wild! Fed up with all the cautious no spice children's food and playing safe so that they'll eat something at least, I revisited my Nigel Slater 30 minute Cook Book, which used to be my standby source of supper recipes BC (before children). Still playing somewhat safe I halved the quantities of spice in his Moroccan style chicken recipe and guess what, the children ate it without a murmur... well loads of murmuring to tell the truth, as in 'I don't like bones in my chicken', but no protests about spiciness.

So new doors of culinary exploration have opened for me. I can get fresh jars of cumin, coriander and turmeric (mine have been on the shelf so long, they can hardly remember the word 'hot') and try out any mildly spicy recipes I can find. Maybe one day I too can be one of those food bloggers, who cite exotic and wonderful dishes they threw together and photographed the other night and who make me feel very unadventurous and dull. Is there such a word as blog-envy?!

My version of the recipe:

Not Too Spicy Chicken Recipe

6 chicken drumsticks or thighs
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cloves garlic
salt and black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
a handful green olives
1 lemon
1 cup water

Crush the garlic and mix with the cumin, paprika, salt and black pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Marinade the chicken in this mix for 15 minutes or longer. Put the remaining olive oil in a casserole or shallow pan with a lid and saute the chicken pieces till golden, then remove them to a plate while you saute the onions in the oil that is left over (add a little more if it is too dry). When the onions have softened, stir in the turmeric and olives and cook for 2 minutes. Return the chicken pieces to the pot, pour in the juice of one lemon and the cup of water and bring to a steady simmer. put the lid on and simmer for 15 minutes or until the meat is done. Serve with plenty of rice to soak up the juices.

Well I'm impressed that they ate it. Even though as a baby my son happily ate chicken korma baby food, since he went through the toddler stage of rejecting everything except a few basic carbohydrates, it has been a very tentative and gradual process re-introducing things to his conservative palate. We are currently at a halfway house: plain food with no sauces on is ok, ideally roast meat and roast potatoes, or rice with two pieces of chicken extracted from the stir-fry and carefully wiped clean of anything that might be sauce or a vegetable. I'm maligning him, he does eat broccoli and lots of fruit, but the preference is for unadorned carbohydrate, maybe in a previous life he came from a poor Eastern country where they only ate rice - I'm sure he'd be quite happy with that today!

My youngest, unphased by the fashion in food preferences, is quite happy to gnaw meat from a bone, eats soup with the vegetables and asked for more sauce from the spicy chicken...I sometimes feel like our family is an illustration from Jack Sprat and his wife...oh well, as long as the platter is licked clean by someone, even if it is the dogs or chickens benefitting.

By the way, the adults in the family liked the chicken too,, though if I was doing it just for us I'd double the spice quantities, give a kick to our jaded palates (or is it just aged palates - I'm sure my sense of taste has faded since I was a child).


  1. This sounds wonderful! Alex loves anything chicken based and it is a struggle getting proteins in her diet...I adore olives. I need to find some of the spices you mentioned. That can be a challenge living in the mid-west "boonies" where I do...there is my livesaver...the net! Thanks for the recipe...

  2. We're also slightly in the boonies here - only half an hour from Cape Town but our local town Malmesbury is very much a farmers town with no frills - this is also a wheat growing area but more rolling hills with mountains on the horizons. I eventually did find cumin in our supermarket but it's not regular here either. A touch of cumin is also great in my mini hamburger recipe - I'll put that on soon.


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