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fatteh-chicken & yoghurt 2 copy

It’s lucky I don’t invite the same friends all the time otherwise they might get bored of eating the same thing. I tend to fall in love with one dish and I cook it again and again until I get bored with it. These days, my favourite dishes for when I have guests over are kibbeh if I have time and fatteh if I don’t. Fatteh is a composite dish made of layers: toasted bread, meat (chicken, lamb or offal in particular lambs’ feet), chickpeas, yoghurt and pine nuts. The combination of textures is delightful. In one bite you have crunchy (the toasted bread and nuts), soft (the meat and chickpeas) and velvety (the yoghurt). You also get contrasting temperatures with the hot meat and chickpeas tempered by the bread and yoghurt which are at room temperature.

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Here is another guest post from my wonderful and very erudite friend, Charles Perry. It  is just as fascinating as the previous two, although I can’t quite believe it is completely safe to eat. Perhaps I will try making some now that I am back home and spending all summer in London.

kamakhrijal copy

Charles Perry: When people make cheese, they curdle milk and press out the whey to make a less inviting environment for bacteria that would spoil it. But in medieval Baghdad, they had another method. They mixed milk, yogurt and salt, put it in a tub — open to the sky — on their rooftops in the hottest part of summer and left it there till October. You’ve just got time to start a batch!

I suspect the reason for this odd technique had to do with a shortage of cool cellars for ageing cheese in Baghdad. In fact, you don’t really need the outdoor location or summer heat. I’ve made kâmakh rîjâl in my dining room, where it was quite the conversation piece, I can tell you.

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