Saleeg

Friday, September 23, 2016

This month is very special one because F and I got engaged four years ago. But every year I get confused if it was on 22nd or 23rd! :-P because his birthday too is one of the two days which contributes to the confusion. I am the worst person to remember dates! so much that I can’t remember if SRK’s birthday is on Nov 2nd or 4th??? (If you even took a second to think who is SRK, you don’t exist.)

This year, I checked F’s passport to confirm his birthday so the confusion is put to rest. LOL! Now there is a third event – Saudi National Day – a day for all the expats to remember why we are here and not anywhere else in the world!

For last year's National Day, I had prepared Kabsa referring to some random blog. Those days I was not into food blogging et al and so never bothered to check the authentic ways it is prepared. Now, having lived and travelled around KSA, I know that the Kabsa I had prepared was far from authentic.

Keeping in mind the three special events, I had shortlisted Kabsa or Mandi considering it will keep the carnivore happy. But F rejected both. Yikes! Now, you can't deny anything for a birthday boy, can we? Sat down for a quick research and I zeroed on Saleeq(g). Can you imagine rice cooked in broth and milk? I was intrigued by the concept which made me finalize on Saleeg. 

Saudi Saleeg

Saleeg is one of the traditional dishes of the Kingdom Saudi, especially around Makkah and Tabuk region which is prepared for special occasions. Originated in Hejaz region, which is the west of Saudi Arabia where it is regarded as a national dish. Almost all the articles I read stated that it is a kid's favourite too, as they eat Saleeg without any tantrums.

New pics taken on 17th Jan 2018
Saleeg

This rice dish is usually prepared by boiling the chicken to get the stock and then cook the rice in the prepared stock. Once the rice is cooked, milk is added and cooked further until creamy. Traditionally, Saleeg is served hot in large plates called Tabasi and the roasted chicken or meat is placed on top of the rice. You can serve with some Salata Hara like I did for a hint of tanginess but it is good as is too.

Unlike most of the Saudi rice dishes that use long grain or basmati, Saleeg is cooked with a combination of Egyptian and American rice. In other words, short grain rice that gets cooked quickly and gets creamy. Both the type of rice are available in ample yet I have used Jeerakashala (short grain aromatic rice of South-India) (which btw is part of my Lulu haul :-P). 

Saleeg

Super easy to prepare as there is no chopping or grinding involved! Only two steps, make broth and cook rice! :-) 

Saleeg 


Yields: Serves 3 to 4 hungry tummies

INGREDIENTS: 

For the Chicken Stock: 
1000 grams Chicken whole legs (4 to 5 whole legs) (You can use mixed parts or boneless too)
8 cups of water
3 green cardamom pods
3 cloves
1" cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns 
1 small piece of dried galangal root (optional)
1 small piece of Shaiba leaves (Black stone flower) (optional)
1 medium onion, peeled 
salt to taste

For the Rice
Prepared chicken stock (approx 6 cups)
2 cups hot water
2 small pearls of mastic tear, crushed (optional)
1 cup Egyptian or Calrose rice or any short grain rice
1 cup Jeerakasala rice
(rinse and soak the rice together for 30 minutes)
1 cup of full-fat milk, room temperature 
2 tablespoon butter or ghee

To roast the boiled Chicken
Rub some ghee or butter on both sides of the chicken pieces
Rub some bezar spice mix or just salt and pepper to taste 
2 tablespoon butter or ghee to roast

METHOD: 

Prepare the Stock: 
  1. Place the cleaned and drained chicken pieces in a stock pot and add enough water and the rest of the chicken stock ingredients 
  2. Bring the water to a full boil and then carefully skim the froth that appears on the top. 
  3. Reduce the flame to medium and allow to cook for 30 minutes or until the chicken is done.
  4. Remove the chicken pieces with help of a tong and keep them aside in a plate
  5. Strain the stock to get rid of the whole spices and onion. You can either strain into another pot in which you intend to make the Saleeg or into a bowl and transfer back into the same pot. 
Prepare the rice
  1. In the same pot, add the chicken stock, crushed mastic tear and hot water
  2. Add the soaked and drained rice and salt to taste
  3. Bring to a full rolling boil, reduce heat to low and cover the pot
  4. Cook for 20 minutes stirring every now and then 
  5. Open and add the milk, and butter and give it a good stir
  6. Check and add enough salt and cook on low stirring every now and then
  7. Cook until the rice is creamy and thick not dry and sticky! If you feel it is dry, add some more hot milk and stir again 
Roast the Chicken
  1. Meanwhile, heat a grill pan 
  2. Add butter and roast the chicken until browned on both sides. (prepare this just before serving the rice)
Serve Saleeg
  1. In a wide plate pour,/drop the prepared Saleeg, smooth the top and place the roasted chicken in the middle.
  2. Serve with Salata Hara, a very easy sauce where no cooking is involved!
Saleeg
In this version, I have not used mastic tear which was called for in most of the Saleeg recipe but luckily was an optional ingredient. My hunt for it is still on... Where are you mastic t(d)ear?

Saleeg, a treat for his birthday and a tribute to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia! :-) 

Update 17th Jan 2018
I have been looking forward to making this rice dish again using all traditionally used ingredients. I picked a pack of Egyptian rice and I already found mastic :-) So made Saleeg for lunch today as F has been coming home for lunch these days. Our verdict? We still loved the Jeerakasala added version so retained it in the recipe. With Saleeg, there is no fear of overcooked rice :-) Add more milk and cook it to a creamy blob. Excess can be stored in the fridge and reheated with some more water and milk.

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