Let me repeat that. “Damn dog!” For dinner tonight, S, obviously inspired by the recent Asia-Middle East Summit that was hosted here in Singapore a couple weeks ago (and that one of our relatives was involved in), had decided to make something from Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.
The recipe she chose was Yogurtlu Basti (Chicken with Spiced Yogurt). Before she picked me up from work (yes, I am very spoilt by her), she prepped her mise en place. She mixed the required spices and the yogurt and set it aside. She chopped the onions. And most importantly, she took some fresh boneless chicken thighs out of the fridge, salted them, and put them on a plate on the kitchen counter, expecting them to reach room temperature by the time we reached home.
Of course, she had forgotten about our fluffy white kitchen-shark, Sascha. For those who don’t already know, Sascha is a 5 year old Golden Retriever with a penchant for gourmet foods and the skills of a ninja. Normally, Sascha is a sweet, lazy, fuzzy-wuzzy. But every so often, when our backs are turned, she dons her black ninja mask and whisks delectable goodies off the kitchen counter and into her tummy with amazing stealth and speed. Dog trainers tell us we should only scold a dog when catching it in the act of doing something bad. Suffice it to say, we’ve never caught Sascha in the act. All we usually catch is the sight of a dog sitting smugly, smiling to herself, and an empty space on our kitchen counter where our dinner was sitting just moments before.
Over the years, she’s stolen abalone, tofu, braised pork belly, and a whole host of other treats off our counter. But she’s smart. She doesn’t do it all the time. She lulls us into a false sense of security by being perfect for months. Then, when we’ve just forgotten about her last indiscretion, BAM! She’s done it again. Tonight, as you’ve already guessed, she did it again. When we came home, the chicken was missing, or rather, had found its way down our greedy pooch’s gullet.
Thankfully, we live near a supermarket, so went right back out again and came back with some chicken drumsticks, with which S made the Yogurtlu Basti.
Yogurtlu Basti (serves 4)
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
1.5 inches ginger, grated
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3.5 lb chicken, cut into quarters, or 4 filets
salt and pepper
1/4 cup toasted chopped almonds
In a bowl, mix the yogurt with the cardamom and ginger and let it infuse while you cook the chicken. In a large skillet, fry the onion till soft. Add the chicken and sauté until onions are golden and chicken browned. Add salt and pepper and a cup of water, and cook over low heat–12 minutes for breast meat, 20 minutes for dark–until chicken is tender and sauce reduced, turning the chicken over and adding a little water if it becomes too dry. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the yogurt. Serve sprinkled with almonds.