CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Chicken Fantastik

There’s no doubt that the cuisines of most countries are influenced by those of others. These days, when the culinary tastes of two or more cultures are combined, it is called fusion cooking.

In this country, that is no more evident than in Tex-Mex food, which is a combination of Southwestern U.S. and Mexican cuisines. Another example of fusion cooking is the dishes that combine the various cuisines of Asian Rim countries that have become very popular in many parts the U.S., United Kingdom and many other locations.

But if you think fusion is new, guess again.

I recently discovered that when doing research on Somali food. Somalia, located in the Gulf of Aden on the Indian Ocean, long has been a center of trade. It was a place where traders from the Middle East, India, Italy and elsewhere crossed paths and left their mark on the country’s cuisine.

I had begun looking into Somali food after coming across an interesting recipe on Facebook, which sent me looking for more. And that led me to the Safari Express in Minneapolis.

Safari was founded in 2006 by Somali immigrants Jamal and Sade Hashi. Safari specializes in East African fare and has become increasingly popular with Somalis and adventuresome American diners. (Minnesota has a population of more than 30,000 Somalis.)

One Safari entree that piqued my interest was Chicken Fantastik, which not only included ingredients that are commonly found in Somali cuisine (cilantro, carrots and zucchini) but also herbs that have a distinct Mediterranean influence (basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme).

Here is the recipe for Chicken Fantastik, which Therese and I hope to try soon, perhaps using some pheasant or a Hutterite chicken. I’ll let you know how it compares with Safari’s dish, which we hope to sample on an upcoming trip to the Twin Cities.

Chicken Fantastik
2 pounds of chicken, chunked (can be grilled breast or rotissrie)
2 pints heavy cream
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ounce cilantro, finely chopped
1 ounce onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
2 ounces carrots, julienned
2 ounces zucchini, julienned
1 ounce red onions, thinly sliced
Place olive oil in pot. Once pot in hot, add cilantro and onions and toss. Simmer until onions get brown. Add spices. Let mixture simmer for a few seconds, until you can smell the sweet aroma of the combined spices. Stir carefully. Pour in cream. Stir, making sure nothing sticks to bottom of pot. Leave on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Add chicken and vegetables. Stir. Add the onions atop dish before serving.

Leave a Reply