You are unlikely to find this dish in a contemporary Middle-Eastern cookbook; the recipe goes back to the 10th century. I read about it in La cuisine de Ziryab (Ziryab’s kitchen) by Farouk Mardam-Bey. The book is a collection of essays on traditional Arab ingredients such as figs, dates, olive, bulgur, chickpeas, artichoke, fava bean or saffron with recipes for each taken from the tradition of both Arab and non-Arab countries of the region, such as Iran, Turkey or Spain.
The recipe is simple: Chicken breasts are briefly cooked then shredded; covered in water, pistachio and almond powder and a pinch of sugar and cooked gently for a little while longer. The pistachios and almonds turn into a paste and coat the chicken with their delicate flavor.
I was reading that the Arabs of the medieval courts produced at least a dozen cookbooks and this is the simplest version of the fustukiyyeh (word meaning made of pistachios).
Original recipe calls for shredding the chicken breasts as fine as possible.
INGREDIENTS: 2 servings
- 1 whole chicken breast, cut in 2 or 3 pieces
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup pistachio flour
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- salt to taste
- Place the chicken breasts in a saucepan; add 1 1/2 cups of water and a dash of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook the breasts for 7 minutes. Remove the breasts and shred them using 2 forks; place them back in the saucepan and add the butter, almond, pistachio flour and sugar and simmer a few minutes longer covering the pan until the breasts are thoroughly cooked. Serve.
NOTE: Pistachio and almond flour can be made by drying the peeled nuts in a 300 oven first for 5 to 10 minutes; cool then transfer to a food processor or coffee grinder and reduce to a powder. To peel the nuts, boil them in water for 2 minutes, drain and peel; spread them on kitchen towels for one hour or longer.
This man sells rolls (called kaak) topped with sesame seeds; the rolls get stuffed with cheese (similar to mozzarella, called akkawi). Then he roasts the roll in a little furnace, flipping it every few minutes until the cheese is melted. Cost US$1.