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This sweet-sour stew is enjoyed by many Sephardic families during the Passover seder and other festive events. It has a longer cooking time, but requires very minimal work on your part and tastes even better the next day! Note: Meat+ fruit combinations are fairly common in Middle Eastern cuisine, but can take getting used to if you have not tried it before. If the stew is too sweet for your taste, just add more sliced lemon or lemon juice. Also, do not brown the chicken before adding the water- the pieces will retain their shape instead of falling apart to create a stew.
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs (or equivalent amount in breast meat, or a combination of the two)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large lemon
- 1 cup golden raisin (also called sultanas- do NOT use black raisins)
- 2 -3 teaspoons turmeric powder, plus more if needed
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ginger (minced or powdered)
- 1⁄2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 dash chili pepper flakes (optional)
- water, to cover
- lemon juice (to taste, if too sweet)
- salt and pepper
- Lightly score the chicken pieces with a knife all over. Combine the dry spices together and rub all over the chicken. Let stand ~30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, saute the onions, garlic and ginger with the olive oil in a wide saucepan until the onions are transluscent. Reduce heat to low.
- Grate all of the zest from the lemon, and reserve. With a sharp knife, carefully cut away all of the white pith, leaving just the flesh of the lemon. Slice *very* thinly into rounds.
- Place the chicken in a single layer over the onions. Sprinkle with the reserved lemon zest, and place at least one lemon slice on top of each piece of chicken. Sprinkle the raisins on top. If desired, add a dash of lemon juice.
- Microwave a bowl of water for a few minutes until boiling or nearly boiling. Add enough of the water to the pan until it just covers the chicken. Raise heat to medium-high, and cover tightly with a lid. Boil gently for 30 minutes.
- Remove cover, and continue to boil gently for another 45 minutes-1 hour, or until the sauce is thick, tangy and yellow. With a wooden spoon or pair of forks, break the chicken up into small pieces (it should be very tender by now).
- Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. If it is too watery, cook longer. If it is too sweet, add lemon. If it is too bland, add some more of the same spices you put in the rub from step 1.
- Serve hot with basmati rice.