Recipes: Serve Persian Joojeh chicken with hummus and salsa for low-fat feast

Joojeh chicken. Picture: Tavallai

Joojeh chicken. Picture: Tavallai - Credit: Archant

Let me start by saying that anyone who gets excited at the prospect of losing a stone in 10 days needs to be sectioned.

persian chicken and dips

persian chicken and dips - Credit: Archant

We live in a bonkers world where many young women want a body shaped like a pipe cleaner and the alarming rise in eating disorders is truly depressing.

As for the billion dollar diet industry, I have nothing but contempt for quick fix diets that verge on starving oneself or omitting a food group completely. They are, of course, unsustainable and often result in weight gain.

Some of my friends who have struggled with their weight (and have more diet books than Foyles) may well know the calorific value of a pea but have failed spectacularly to sustain a healthy weight for most of their adult lives.

If I had the answer, I’d be a squillionaire.

Cucumber Raita. Picture: Soniya Goyal

Cucumber Raita. Picture: Soniya Goyal - Credit: Archant

I am, however, with Lord Darzi, the eminent surgeon who has specialized in gastric medicine for decades.

He believes the answer lies in surgery for people who have suffered the ills of obesity because they just can’t manage to lose weight by themselves. Anyway, as a teacher of healthy eating I see how difficult it is to change habits and it’s also my job to make people aware of the contemptible food giants that sell drinks with 25 teaspoons of sugar in them.

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Rant over, I’m here to share some recipes that are tasty, easy to knock up and won’t have heart surgeons running for the hills.

My local Persian restaurant serves this simple but delicious chicken recipe.

It’s a doddle to make, is low in fat, high in protein and makes a lovely feast if served with the above accompaniments.

I like to add a good hit of heat but you can omit this if chilli isn’t your thing.

Joojeh Chicken, serves 4

2 large free range chicken breasts, cut into large cubes

1 pot of Greek yogurt (170gr)

juice of 2 limes

3 fat cloves of garlic, crushed

1 bird’s eye chili, finely diced

1 tbs olive oil

a good pinch of saffron threads, dissolved in a tbs of hot water

a good pinch of Maldon sea salt

Simply mix together the marinade ingredients.

Steep the chicken into the seasoned yogurt and refrigerate for at least six hours.

When ready to cook, pre-heat the oven to 180C and tip the chicken onto a baking tray lined with foil (this makes cleaning a much more pleasant job) and spread it out.

Place another sheet of foil loosely over the chicken. Bake for 20 minutes, remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes. You should have a nice layer of juice to pour over each portion of chicken.

Coriander and lemon hummus

1 large tub of hummus (300gr)

juice of ½ a large lemon

a good handful of coriander leaves

2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil

½ a tsp of paprika

Empty the hummus into a glass bowl. Chop the coriander leaves very finely with a mezzaluna or very sharp knife. Stir them into the hummus, add the lemon juice, pour over the oil and sprinkle with the paprika.

Cucumber raita

170gr pot of Greek yogurt

1/3 of a cucumber

a handful of mint leaves

¼ tsp of white sugar

squeeze of lemon juice

pinch of sea salt

Scrape the watery pips from the cucumber with a spoon. Grate into a bowl, add the salt and let it stand for 15 minutes before scrunching the cucumber with your hands to remove any excess water. Mix in the yogurt, finely chop the mint leaves, dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice, stir into the yogurt.

Spicy tomato salsa

2 large, ripe tomatoes, deseeded and diced

½ small a red onion, diced

1 medium red chili, finely diced

handful of flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 tbs malt vinegar

pinch each of sugar and salt

In a glass bowl dissolve the sugar and the salt in the vinegar. Stir in the tomatoes, onion, chili and parsley just before serving.