Michelle Naike is a seasoned globetrotter, having lived in Afghanistan, London and Australia for decades at a time. But when it came to wearing the chef’s hat at Community Kitchen, Michelle said cooking delicious Afghani fare was just too good to pass up.
Michelle is a case manager who works with people seeking asylum in SSI’s Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS). But she also holds the cooking utensils close to her heart, having spent many hours happily cooking with her family in England and Australia. But she admits she has only recently embraced her passion in Australia.
“My family has always cooked together, but the older I get, the more I love cooking, especially traditional food from Afghanistan,” she said.
As her first time as head chef behind the scenes at Community Kitchen, Michelle chose one of her favourite dishes; Kabuli Palow, which is a chicken and rice dish with raisins and carrots.
A popular dish in Afghanistan, palow rice is often reserved for special occasions such as weddings and parties, and festivities such as Eid. A colourful dish renowned for its textures, colours and nutritional value, palow rice can be done with chicken, beef, or just a selection of vegetables and nuts.
And in Michelle’s opinion, it’s hard to go wrong, even if you stray from the recipe.
Kabuli Palow (Chicken with raisins, carrots and basmati rice)
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
4 onions, chopped
1 large tbsp tomato paste
3 cups of basmati rice (Rinse the rice several times in cold water until water remains clear. Boil in 6 cups of water – add the rinsed rice and boil rice in a large strainer)
¼ cups oil
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp garam marsala
1 tsp cumin
10 grams sultanas
150 grams slivered almonds
150 grams pistachios
2 carrots, chopped julienne
Heat the oil and fry the onion until dark brown. then add the chicken and fry until brown on all sides.
Add cardamom, garam Marsala, cumin, tomato paste, and fry together for 3 minutes. Then add just enough water to cover, and reduce the heat to simmer. Leave for 1 hour.
Cook rice separately until just al dente. Add the rice to the chicken mixture, along with sultanas, almonds, pistachios, and combine well. Cover and leave mixture in the oven to sit or cover with foil or cloth for 30 mints to trap heat.
Oil for cooking
3 fresh tomatoes, sliced
2 chillies, chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 tsp turmeric
1 cup natural yoghurt
A few sprigs of mint
1tsp ground curry powder
Peel the eggplant and cut it into large 5cm squares. Heat oil in frypan and fry both sides of the eggplant. Layer sliced tomato in the bottom of a large tray, and cover with sliced eggplant. Fry chillies, two cloves of garlic and turmeric, and layer on top of eggplant.
Cook in the oven at 180 C until crisp. Mix yoghurt, mint and one clove of garlic and serve as a garnish.
3 tomatoes, cut into quarters
1/2 an iceberg lettuce, cut finely
1/2 an onion, cut into half moons
4 radishes, cut finely
Lemon wedges to serve
Small handful of fresh mint
Olive oil to taste
Combine all ingredients and season to taste.