in tokyo, there is this lovely petite restaurant called “aila” where they serve “french colonial” style cuisine. their dishes are based on the french food with a bit of north african tastes. there are dishes like tagine, moroccan lamb confit and fish cous cous.
i’m not very sure if the expression “french colonial” is politically correct, but it appears to be socially accepted over here, or perhaps people just don’t question it. since japan is a monocultural society where people are quite innocent and not very sensitive about issues involving diverse cultures, we sometimes get stunned at what we witness in our everyday life here in tokyo, just like this example. if some western people see it (including my husband), they would either roll their eyes or shrug their shoulders and move on, because they know that we mean it well.
well getting back to the food topic – this dish, “chicken couscous,” is my own invention which is inspired by a dish i once had at aila. i can’t remember the exact flavour and spices they used, but i made it close enough to get the north african touch to the dish.
here is the recipe:
chicken couscous stew
12 chicken drumsticks
2 cloves of garlic
2 bunch of celery (with leaves)
1 japanese leek (even better if it is normal leek)
1/2 bunch of cauliflower
3-4 table spoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 table spoon of dried thyme
1/2 cup of white wine (or more if you like)
1/2 cup of water
2 table spoons of colombo powder (or garam masara powder)
salt & pepper to taste
1. season the drumsticks with salt & pepper
2. cut the celery stems into 2cm length. we’ll use leaves too
3. cut the leek into 2cm length
4. roughly dice the garlic
5. in a stew pan (i use le creuset), pour the oil and gently fry the garlic in low heat
6. add the celery and the leek and stir-fry them further in low heat, for another 15 minutes or so
7. in a separate frying pan, pour some more oil (additional) and fry the drumsticks until their surface get golden
8. pour in the white wine into the drumsticks, put the lid on, lower the heat and cook it for 1 minute or so
9. add the drumsticks with all the juice coming out of the chicken in the stew pan (and do not wash the frying pan, because we will use it to cook couscous later on)
10. add the celery leaves, the thyme and the colombo (curry) powder, and half a cup of water into the stew pan, put the lid on and simmer for 10 minutes or so
11. in a separate small pan, bring water to boil and boil cauliflower for 3 minutes or so
12. add the cauliflower to the stew pan, and let it simmer for another 5 – 10 minutes
13. add salt & pepper to taste
1 cup of cous cous
1 cup of water
1. in the frying pan we used earlier, add a cup of water and bring it to boil. when it’s boiled
2. add the couscous and turn off the heat. mix them well, put the lid on and steam it for 1 minute.
on the side, i served diced sweet potatoes (simmer them with a little bit water, a tea spoonful of honey and a tea spoonful of olive oil). somehow the sweet potatoes go along very well with this chicken dish.