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  • Moroccan Feast

    Whether you're cooking a feast for family and friends or are simply looking to spice up your everyday dishes, create an exotic-tasting three course dinner to impress with these delicious Moroccan, Lebanese and Persian inspired recipes from Bethany Kehdy's cookbook The Jewelled Kitchen...

    Slumbering Chamomile Chicken

    This is my version of a Moroccan dish, which produces a juicy and flavoursome bird. If you don’t want to brine the chicken, add 2 tablespoons clear honey and chamomile to the seasoned butter in step 4 and adjust to taste with garlic and salt.

    Serves 4

    Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus brining and resting, and making the preserved lemon
    Cooking time: 1¾ hours

    I N G R E D I E N T S

    3 tbsp dried chamomile (from about 10 chamomile tea bags)
    1 onion, quartered
    1 cinnamon stick
    3 garlic cloves, crushed with the blade of a knife
    5cm/2in piece root ginger, peeled and sliced
    55g/2oz/4 tbsp coarse sea salt
    185ml/6fl oz/¾ cup clear honey
    1 chicken, about 1.5 kg/3lb 5oz
    115g/4oz/scant ½ cup salted butter, softened
    3 wedges of Preserved Lemon (see page 212), rind rinsed and finely chopped
    4 tbsp roughly chopped tarragon leaves
    140g/5oz/¾ cup couscous
    1 tbsp plain/all-purpose flour
    150g/5½oz/1½ cups broken-up vermicelli
    3 tbsp sunflower oil

    M E T H O D 

    If you are brining the chicken, follow steps 1–3. Put the chamomile, onion, cinnamon stick, garlic, ginger and salt in a large bowl. Add 125ml/4fl oz/½ cup of the honey, then pour in 500ml/17fl oz/generous 2 cups boiling water. Stir well and leave to cool.

    Put 2l/70fl oz/8¾ cups cold water in a large glass, plastic or non-metallic container, add the cooled brine and mix well. Add the chicken to the brine, then cover and leave in the refrigerator for 4–8 hours.

    About 1 hour prior to cooking, remove the chicken from the brine, rinse well under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Strain the brine and reserve. Place the chicken in a colander over a bowl and leave to air-dry for 30 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels.

    Put 55g/2oz/4 tablespoons of the butter, one-third of the preserved lemon and 2 tablespoons of the tarragon in a bowl and mix to create a spreadable paste. Using your fingers, gently separate the chicken skin from the flesh and dot the flesh with the butter mixture, spreading it out as much as you can. Spread a little inside the cavity too.

    Place the chicken on a wire rack in a roasting pan and roast for about 1½ hours or until a meat thermometer registers 70˚C/150˚F.

    Meanwhile, cook the couscous following the instructions on page 216, using the reserved brine for steaming, if possible. Don’t salt the couscous until after cooking, and then only if you like. Reserve 125ml/4fl oz/½ cup of the brine.

    When the chicken is cooked, transfer to a shallow serving dish, then cover it and set aside. Place the roasting pan with the juices over two burners on a medium heat. Whisk in the remaining butter and the flour. Add the reserved 125ml/4fl oz/½ cup of the brine, if using, and 125ml/ 4fl oz/½ cup water. Alternatively, add 240ml/8fl oz/1 cup water. Whisk in the remaining honey, the preserved lemon and the tarragon, to form a thick, pourable sauce.

    Fry the vermicelli in the oil over a medium heat for 2 minutes until light golden brown. Toss with the cooked couscous to heat it through, making sure the mixture is hot. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle the couscous-vermicelli mixture over the top. Serve immediately.

    Moroccan Citrus Salad

    Citrus salads, whether sweet or savoury, are very popular in Morocco. As in many parts of the Middle East, most meals end with a vibrant array of seasonal fruit: ruby pomegranates, oranges, apples, grapes, loquats, bananas ... It’s hard to provide a recipe for such a basic salad since it really should come about by following one’s instinct and mood, so regard this as more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast recipe: it’s now up to you to bring it to life in whatever way you choose. If you want to attain more savoury notes, add thin slices of red onion, a creamy cheese, olives, a dash of paprika and a drizzle of argan oil. The combination of fruits and vibrant colours will revive you at first glance, let alone at first bite. Serve with some ginger yogurt, if you like...

    Serves 4

    Preparation time: 10 minutes

    I N G R E D I E N T S 

    1 lime
    1 orange
    1 blood orange
    1 pink grapefruit
    Seeds from 1 pomegranate
    2 tsp roughly chopped pistachios
    2 tbsp clear honey
    ½ tsp orange blossom water (optional)
    ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
    1 tsp chopped mint leaves, to sprinkle

    To serve (optional)

    4 tbsp Greek yogurt
    2.5cm/1in piece of root ginger, peeled and grated

    M E T H O D 

    Using a sharp knife, trim the top and bottom of the lime so that the flesh is revealed. Keeping the lime upright, cut through the peel downwards from top to bottom, following the shape of the fruit, making sure to shave off all the peel and pith. Turn the lime onto its side and cut into thick wheels (not too thick, but thick enough so they are not falling apart).

    Repeat with the remainder of the citrus fruit. Remove the pips and arrange the slices on a serving plate, so they overlap. Drizzle any juice over the citrus slices.

    Sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and pistachios. Put the honey and orange blossom water, if using, in a small mixing bowl and stir well, then drizzle it over the citrus fruits. Dust with cinnamon and sprinkle the mint over the top.

    To make the ginger yogurt, if using, put the yogurt and ginger in a bowl and mix well. Serve with the salad.

    Wild Orchid Ice cream in filo cups

    Salep flour, which gives this ice cream its light and elastic consistency, is milled from the dried tubers of a species of wild orchid found in the Anatolian plateau. These tubers apparently resemble the testicles of a fox, and this gave the flour its name! It’s widely thought to be an aphrodisiac.

    Serves 6

    Preparation time: 40 minutes, plus freezing
    Cooking time: 15 minutes

    I N G R E D I E N T S

    700ml/24fl oz/2¾ cups whole milk
    2 tsp salep flour or cornflour/ cornstarch
    ¼ tsp mastic powder or about
    2 small mastic tears ground using a pestle and mortar, or xanthan gum
    175g/6oz/scant 1 cup caster/ superfine sugar
    1 tsp rosewater
    2 tbsp roughly chopped shelled unsalted pistachios, plus extra for sprinkling
    3 sheets of filo/phyllo pastry
    40g/1½oz/3 tbsp butter
    Dried edible rose petals, to decorate (optional)

    M E T H O D

    Pour 350ml/12fl oz/1½ cups of the milk into a small mixing bowl, add the salep flour and mastic powder and stir to dissolve.

    Place a large pan over a medium heat, add the remaining milk and the sugar and whisk well to dissolve. Bring the mixture to the boil, then gradually pour the salep and milk mixture into the hot milk as you continue to whisk vigorously, gently simmering the mixture over a low heat for 5 minutes. Make sure the mixture does not rise up in the pan and then overflow.

    Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the rosewater and pistachios. Transfer to a freezer-safe mixing bowl and leave to cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator.

    Once the mixture has chilled, transfer to the freezer for 45 minutes, then remove and whisk well to break up all the ice crystals while incorporating as much air as possible to yield a creamier, fluffier end result. Return to the freezer for 30 minutes, then remove and repeat the process again, breaking up all the ice crystals that have developed. Repeat two or three more times until completely frozen. This should take about 8 hours. You may find that your whisk can no longer do the job as the ice cream hardens, in which case a spatula is a good substitute.

    Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4. Remove the sheets of pastry from their packaging and cover them with a damp dish towel.

    Melt the butter in a small saucepan and lightly brush six cups of a muffin pan with some of it. Brush one pastry sheet with more melted butter, add another layer on top, brush that one with butter and then repeat with the final layer. Slice the stack into six 15 x 13cm/6 x 5in rectangles, then gently press these rectangles into the greased muffin pan so that they form cup shapes.

    Bake in the oven for 6–8 minutes or until golden brown. Lift the pastry cups out of the pan and leave to cool. Fill each cup with a scoop of ice cream and sprinkle with pistachios and dried rose petals, if you like.

    Recipes from The Jewelled Kitchen by Bethany Kehdy, published by Nourish Books London, photography by Sárka Babická.