Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sunday Recipe: Making Durban Chicken with Celia Wakefield

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Are you ready for the debut (and maybe only, who knows, we'll see how it goes) of the Jungle Reds Cooking Show?!? Yes, you are! 

Today, we're in the expert hands of commenter and honorary Red Celia Wakefield, whose easy summer supper, lava cakes, and mock grilled ribs you've all enjoyed.  Celia has a knack for making elegant dishes simply and vice versa; you won't be surprised she was a professional caterer for many years.

I made a pig of myself eating Durban chicken at her house a few weeks ago, and when she volunteered to demonstrate how to make it for us al, I jumped at the chance. Durban chicken is an Indian dish from South Africa, spicy, but within British tastes, and SO moist and tender. Once you make this, you'll never roast a bird again. Celia's is a version of the classic recipe featured in Madhur Jaffrey's  From Curries to Kebabs.

1 chicken, skinned whole (don't fret, Celia will show you how!)

For the spice sauce:
4 T lemon or lime juice
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1t salt
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
1 T Trader Joes Chili Lime Blend (Celia uses this in everything, you just need to give in and buy some now.) 
Pepper to taste. 
2 T olive oil.

Peel the garlic cloves and ginger. Mash the garlic with the side of your knife and cube the ginger. Put all the sauce ingredients together and pour into a blender, food processor or grinding mill (Celia uses a Prep Master.) Blend until it's well-integrated. Pour it back into a bowl so it's easy to scoop up and smear on the bird.

 Now, let's get to work peeling the chicken! First the breast:

....and then the rest. Snap or cut off the ends of the wings; you can save them for stock.

After you've denuded the chicken, make three deep cuts in each breast, and also in the meaty parts of the legs. Place the bird in a tinfoil-lined pan - you're going to wrap it, so make sure you have plenty of foil!  Rub generous amounts of the spice sauce into the cuts and surrounding meat, and pour anything left on the breast.

Set the oven on 425 F. (220 C) Roll and crimp the foil, first the long way across the breast, then on each end. You're making a tight packet for the chicken to cook in - just like when you made camping food in the Girl or Boy Scouts! Bake for 1 hour.

After an hour, open the foil and baste with the juices. Try not to faint from the heavenly smell. Test if the chicken is done with a meat thermometer; if necessary, return the bird for another 15 minutes or until the interior temperature reads 150 F (75 C).

It sounds like a lot of work, but really, it worked up very quickly. Celia served the chicken sliced off the bone atop a bed of coconut rice with some seasonal veggies on the side. So good. If it weren't for the fact I want to be invited back, I would have eaten it all.

What do you think, dear readers? Will you try it? Do you have a recipe to share? And how do you like our video presentation? Should we do it again some time?


  1. That was simply amazing! Thank you Celia and Julia. I loved watching the video . . . you should definitely do it again.
    Will I try it? Definitely.

    Recipe to share? How about an oh-so-good Chocolate Cranberry Fudge Cake recipe from Ocean Spray?

    Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line an 8-inch round cake pan with foil. Coat foil with cooking spray.
    Dust pan with flour, tap to remove excess.

    To make the cake:
    Microwave for one minute:
    2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1/2 cup butter
    1 ounce unsweetened chocolate.
    Stir until smooth. Microwave for thirty seconds more if necessary to melt chocolate. Add:
    1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
    1/2 cup sugar
    Mix well; add:
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/4 cup flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    Mix well; pour batter in prepared pan.

    Bake for 40 minutes or until center is set and a toothpick comes out clean.
    Cool in pan for thirty minutes, then refrigerate until cold.

    To make the glaze:
    Microwave for thirty seconds:
    1/4 cup whipping cream
    1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    Stir until smooth. Microwave for thirty seconds more if necessary to melt chocolate. Add:
    1/4 cup jellied cranberry sauce; mix well.

    Turn cake out onto serving plate; remove foil.
    Spread glaze over top allowing some to drip down sides of cake.
    Chill one hour or until glaze is firm.
    Decorate, if desired, with sugared cranberries.

    1. Joan, that sounds scrumptious. I swear, we need to put together a Jungle reds cookbook. We have so many talented and enthusiastic cooks around here.

  2. That chicken sounds amazing, and we are big on Indian food in this house, so I'll certainly try it. Someone here posted a recipe for a tortellini asparagus dish last week. Thank you! It was great! So good that I am putting it into the summer rotation.

    This is our new favorite cucumber salad, from the NYT:

    Chinese Smashed Cucumbers with Sesame Oil and Garlic

    About 2 pounds thin-skinned cucumbers like English or Persian (8 to 10 mini cucumbers, 4 medium-size or 2 large greenhouse)
    1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for cucumbers
    2 teaspoons granulated sugar, plus more for cucumbers
    1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
    2 teaspoons sesame oil
    2 teaspoons soy sauce
    1 tablespoon grapeseed or extra-virgin olive oil
    2 large garlic cloves, minced or put through a press
    Red pepper flakes, to taste
    Small handful whole cilantro leaves, for garnish
    2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

    Rinse cucumbers and pat dry. Cut crosswise into pieces about 4 inches long. Cut each piece in half lengthwise.
    On a work surface, place a piece of cucumber (or several) cut side down. Lay the blade of a large knife flat on top the cucumber and smash down lightly with your other hand. The skin will begin to crack, the flesh will break down and the seeds will separate. Repeat until the whole piece is smashed. Break or slice diagonally into bite-size pieces, leaving the seeds behind.
    Place the cucumber pieces in a strainer and toss with a big pinch of salt and a big pinch of sugar. Place a plastic bag filled with ice on top of the cucumbers to serve as a weight and place the strainer over a bowl. Let drain 15 to 30 minutes on the counter, or in the refrigerator until ready to serve, up to 4 hours.
    Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine salt, sugar and rice vinegar. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Stir in sesame oil and soy sauce.
    When ready to serve, shake cucumbers well to drain off any remaining liquid and transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with grapeseed or olive oil and toss. Add half the dressing, half the garlic and the red pepper flakes to taste, and toss. Keep adding dressing until cucumbers are well coated but not drowned. Taste and add more pepper flakes and garlic if needed. Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro and sesame seeds.

    Of course I left out the cilantro and substituted a mixture of chopped basil, dill, and Italian parsley from the herb garden. Mint would be good too. Alao I added slice Vidalia onion to the cucumbers that were macerating.

    Then I looked at it, so very green, and added a couple of handfuls of little yellow tomatoes, sweet as sugar.

    All in all, it was a terrific success. We couldn't finish it all, so the next night I layered some romaine, then the left over cucumber smash, and topped with shrimp.

    Happy summer from upstate NY

    1. I've been getting regular cukes in my CSA - I'm going to peel one and try this. I have all the other ingredients, and it sounds about right for the 90+ degree heat we're having today.

      How was the planetarium show, Ann?

    2. The show was really good. But they’ve remodeled, removed the reclining stadium seats with built in speakers and substituted flipping folding lawn chairs. I suppose it’s to make the area more versatile but wasn’t comfortable at all. And yes, the cuke smash is perfect for hot weather. Some sort of cold protein would make a complete meal.

    3. Don’t peel the cucumbers. Trust me.

    4. Ann, that sounds fabulous. I buy those little Persian cukes at Trader Joe's, which would be perfect. This is going on my menu this week!

    5. Okay, I'll buy the European cukes and save mine for homemade vinegar slices. I don't blame you for being put out - folding lawn chairs sounds like a SERIOUS downgrade from reclining stadium seats!

    6. Julia, I used plain old garden cukes. Don’t bother buying anything special. Use what you have lying around.

  3. It sounds delicious, although I was raised in a bland part of the country, and don't have much taste for spicy food. I'm sure I can rework that recipe for a single serving, and I cook chicken in packets all the time. I'll have to try it.

    No recipe from me, but I did have a culinary adventure last night. A halal butcher shop has opened in my neighborhood, and since I wandered in on their very first day to see what it was, the owner gave me a package of goat chops. I'd never had goat before, but I read a few recipes online, and came up with my own marinade. Slow cooked the chops and they came out tender and delicious.

    1. Ross got goat once from a halal butcher. Wonderful braised meat, very tender.

      Gigi, I have super white person tastes when it comes to spiciness - my ancestry is 100% Scots, English and German. And I loved the Durban chicken. It's not very hot at all - more richly flavorful. The original recipe calls for 3 T of green chilies, chopped, so Celia has already lightened it up for us.

  4. I probably won't do a whole bird (although the videos were great!), but I can definitely see myself trying the spice mixture on smaller, foil-wrapped packets of chicken.

    My brain is fried from our heatwave--alas, the forecasters said today would be great--they've missed it by a day, I think--so no recipes to share--and thanks to Ann and Joan also for new ideas!

    1. We're all staggered with the heat, Flora. Stay as cool as you can and don't forget to drink more water than usual!

      And yes, this would be great with a quarter of the spice mix on a plump chicken breast, baked for a commensurately shorter time.

  5. great recipe and video demo! Please repeat at least once a season (especially at that awkward using up summer ingredients while merging into heartier cold weather time). Suggestion: a "print recipe" option. Thanks!

    1. Good suggestion, Margaret. I was trying to figure out how to add a downloadable PDF, but my deadline outstripped my dubious technical abilities. With a little more time to play around, I should be able to suss out how to do it.

  6. Oh, wow, this looks amazing! As soon as I can go back out into the world, I'm going to TJ's to get that Chili Lime Blend!
    Thanks so much for sharing this dish, Celia!

    1. Hi Gigi, I really appreciate all the compliments received here, thank you so much. I understand the concern about heat and spiciness in food. I was born in England, but spent most of my childhood in the tropics including Ceylon where curries are hot. But Indian food comes from as many different areas of the continent as does Chinese food. So if you wanted to explore some different tastes I know there would be one you enjoyed. Madhur Jaffrey and Charmaine Solomon write wonderful cook books on these foods.

    2. You’re very welcome Jenn,
      I’m still having some JRW Google publishing problems so the reply below is supposed to be under Gigi’s comment. So sorry

  7. I can ALMOST smell that from here! Looks so good! There is no Trader Vic's anywhere near me - what would make a good substitute?
    I just put a Peach Cobbler in the oven - not my recipe; I used Bisquick. But I did add my very own blueberries,freshly picked.

    1. Judi, you must be living in the western half of the country - or have very good A/C. The most I've used for the past two days has been the toaster oven - I don't want to add any more heat to my kitchen!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I got curious - you can get Trader Joe's Key Lime Blend on-line.

    4. Judi, wish I were with you for peach cobbler, I loved everything it. TJ’s spice is a mild chili with lime flavor added. Really any decent chili powder will work.

    5. Thank you all. No, Julia, I live right here in sweltering North East! But I had these marvelous peaches and I couldn't resist. I put it in the oven early in the day - the house was still cool-ish from overnight.

  8. This looks fantastic - it’s similar to how I cook spareribs, rubbed w spices, wrapped in foil But then slow roasted in the oven for a long time then opened up basted with bbq sauce and grilled ... yum

    1. You're making me drool, Hallie.

      Yeah, the part that really impressed me the first time I had this was how moist and tender the chicken was. My mom's recipe for pot roast included enveloping everything in foil, and it was always amazing, too. Now I'm trying to figure out if I can make Durban turkey for Thanksgiving without the troops rioting. Maybe one spiced, and one regular, for the gravy-lovers.

  9. I'm sending your recipe to my niece who is responsible for meals at my sister's home in exchange for room and board. They are currently eating the results of steer and hog butchering. My sister is complaining about the freezers full of meat and has insisted my niece use other forms of protein. I will insist my neice, who likes to improvise, follow this recipe without change. Skinning the chicken whole? Is there a reason your are keeping the skin whole?
    Recipe to share? How about Stuffed Pumpkin? It can be great for larger gatherings. And I will acknowledge, in advance, it is a bit time consuming.

    Stuffed Pumpkin
    1 lb. sausage
    4 carrots, grated
    3 onions, grated
    3 stalks celery, chopped
    1/2 c. sunflower seed kennels, unsalted would be better
    1 c. bread crumbs
    3 eggs, beaten
    2 c. brown rice, cooked
    2 T. sesame seeds
    1 pumpkin or 6 acorn squash

    Steam vegetables together until tender, may be done in the microwave. Brown sausage. Mix all ingredients together with the following sauce:
    1/2 c. butter, melted
    2 T. lemon juice
    3 T. parsley, chopped
    2 T. basil
    Cut squash in half squash or remove the top of the pumpkin and clean out the seeds and fibers.. Prebake squash or pumpkin. Full cavities with mixture and bake 1 hour. Without sausage this makes a great meatless meal. For the pumpkin, serve at the table spooning out the pumpkin meat with the rice mixture.

    This recipe is definitely more autumnal, at least in my home. In copying this recipe I realized the oven temperature is missing. I suggest 350°. Put the top on the pumpkin while cooking and if the pumpkin is not huge you could prebake in the microwave. I actually don't think you need to prebake the acorn squash. If you have leftover stuffing, you could cook in a small casserole. I got this recipe from my former employer, when I was nanny. Mom and I have made this recipe, with meat and without, for large groups. We used different colored pumpkins so we didn't serve a vegetarian the meal with meat.

    1. Deana, that sounds like a wonderful dish for a fall gathering, and I love the idea of using different colored pumpkins for meat/vegetarian stuffings.

      I think the whole skin thing may be the way I worded it - you skin the whole chicken. Celia is deft at peeling the skin away without having to cut it into smaller pieces, but however it gets done works fine. Evidently, you can also ask the butcher at the grocery store to do it for you, which would be the MOST convenient way!

    2. Deana, Julia is correct, probably should read 1 whole chicken, skinned. Also I usually cook it at 400degrees but it makes very little difference to end result.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Celis, your recipe looks great. My recipe was lacking an oven temperature. I'm envious of your ability to skin a chicken whole.

    5. Deana, it is really quite straight forward. Madhur gives no skinning directions in the recipe so the first time I made it I was flying etc. and started down the center of the back same as if I were boning a chicken. Quite a challenge. Then I realized I would be better starting down the breast bone and that was the key. As I hope you can see it comes off very easily and my uni attending niece confirmed that fascia is the correct term for the layer that I had to cut away with the skin. One could take it off in pieces but starting from center breast where the skin is loose, gives one something to pull off on the tougher areas.

  10. O-o-o-o yummy! I'm definitely looking for the TJ Chili Lime blend. I've moved my food habits in to the "vegan" zone so I'm always looking for sauce/marinades/flavor bases that I can use. This one is a keeper!

    1. It's so good, Lyda; spicy-flavorful but not TOO hot. I can imagine adding this to cooked rice and veggies and then stir frying them.

  11. TJs chili lime is great sprinkled on melon. And while your there, look for a jar of Everything But The Bagel seasoning. It’s extraordinary.

    1. Next time I'm in Portland, I'm picking up a bottle. When good cooks agree, a smart person listens!

    2. Yes, I have TJ's Chili Lime and it is great on pretty much everything, but I haven't tried on melon. Will do! What do you put the Everything But The Bagel blend on, Julia?

    3. As far as recipe sharing, my big thing the last couple of weeks has been cooking whole chickens in the Instant Pot. I had been supplementing my dogs' food with some cooked chicken, but it's too hot to simmer a chicken on the stove top, so I thought I'd try the Instant Pot. It works brilliantly! Even unseasoned, the chicken is delicious, perfect for hot weather chicken salad and sandwiches, etc., and it only takes 30 minutes.

      But the really great thing I've discovered is making bone broth from the chicken remains. After you've taken the meat off the chicken, you put the entire chicken carcass back in the IP (removing the trivet you've used to cook the whole chicken,) not just bones but the fat, skin, giblets, and neck, too. (not the liver.) Then I had a whole onion cut in half, a big chunk of whole, unpeeled garlic cloves, whatever vegetable trimmings I have on hand (I've started keeping a bag in the freezer,) a bay leaf, some whole coriander seed, some whole peppercorns, and a great big bunch of fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, oregano, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, maybe a little basil.) I've used lots of celery because I usually have leftover bits, and have discovered that mushroom stems give the broth a great umami flavor. Then, cover all this with water, seal the pot and cook on high pressure for two hours. Let the pressure release naturally for thirty minutes, then uncover and let broth cool. I then strain into wide-mouth quart jars and chill. You can then scoop the fat off the top of the liquid. If this makes more than you can use in a few days, you can pour the cold, de-fatted broth into ziplock freezer bags and freeze.

      I can't tell you how delicious this stuff is. I've just been drinking it cold, right out of the jar, and of course you can use it for anything you would normally use stock for. It's supposed to be fabulous for you as well, good for skin and joints especially.

    4. I haven't tried that, yet, Debs, but that's the type of bagel I always get, so I'm thinking I'm going to like it. :-)

    5. Debs, we make bone broth every time we have chicken. Store in bags in the freezer for when we do curries, soups or casseroled

    6. Sprinkle the everything but the bagel seasoning on any cheese, great on cream cheese or goat cheese. Lovely on cottage cheese, you name it.

  12. Oh my gosh, Celia and Julia, I am so impressed!!! I read the blog this morning but didn't have time to watch the videos until now (had to do garden chores ahead of the heat.) You did a terrific job!! And if I was using my oven (400 degree oven is definitely on the NO list until the weather cools off--I'm cooking our Sunday night homemade pizza on the grill tonight) I would be making this chicken tonight. What veg did you serve with the chicken and rice, Celia?

    Oh, and Celia, I have exactly the same knife. It is beautiful, but I find I don't use it as much as my trusty 10 inch Wustoff (also from William Sonoma.) I need to make an effort to get more comfortable with the Japanese knife, as it was also a present from my hubby.

    Thank you both so much for doing this! Please make it a regular feature!

    1. It was awfully fun to do, Debs, and of course the fact it ended with a delicious dinner was a nice bonus!

    2. Hi Debs, I went out early to as it was my turn in the Portland soup kitchen, and yes it was hot. But now back home and trying to answer the lovely comments. I agree on knives. I have a large Global knife, bought because Tony Bourdain recommended it in Kitchen Confidential. This and its smaller sibling are my go to knives. The Japanese knife was a choice when I realized needed a boning knife but bought this one hoping it might work. It doesn’t so I am using it on other prep and it keeps a good edge which is important. Your bone broth sounds perfect. I haven’t fallen for an Instant pot yet as limited counter space is an issue. Oh, veggies, my lovely neighbor had given me fresh pea pods, very quick and looked good on the plate. I’ll put the coconut rice on sometime when I can work out portions.

  13. Oh, that chicken does sound yummy, although I might have to wait and try it when hubby is out of town. I've tried a couple of "different" dishes on him lately, and he wasn't very enthusiastic. Of course, his favorite dish is roast beef, potatoes, etc. I'm more of a chicken person, so I love new recipes for chicken. And, the video and instructions for the Durban Chicken are excellent. However, I say with much regret that I don't live near a Trader Joe's. Such a disappointment, although I'm sure I could order the chili lime blend online.

  14. Fabulous commentary, Celia! Masterful cinematography, Julia! I am leaning in the direction of those who wish to make smaller versions with already cut up chicken. Chicken breasts are so huge these days that I think it would work well. And if I understood it right, Celia sliced the chicken up anyway so we aren't talking fancy presentation with a whole chicken. When you process the sauce does thee ginger break up pretty well or are there chunks? As for a recipe I'll give you a fast and easy one used by at least 3 generations in our family. If you ever have a call for shortcut recipes using condensed soups or cake mixes I'm your girl.

    Peach Cobbler: Melt one stick of butter and pour in 10"square baking pan or a deep round casserole dish. I've been using an old Corningware 2-1/2 Qt forever. Combine 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 cup milk, 1/4 tsp salt. Pour over melted butter. Now you get crafty. The original recipe calls for pouring one 29-oz can of drained peaches on top. I have substituted fresh peaches or fresh dewberries(4 cups last time). Bake at 375 degrees 40 minutes or more until done. This is a cake-type cobbler. You scoop out portions and pour cream over it or plop on ice cream. Quick and easy dessert. If you want something with more pizzazz I have an ancient recipe from the Houston Chronicle for Mexican Chocolate Cake!

    1. Please keep the Mexican Chocolate Cake on hand and share it next Recipe Sunday, Pat! And yes, the single breast serving makes sense - although there were only three of us for dinner with this chicken, and there was only enough left over for Celia's husband's lunch the next day!

    2. Actually the chicken has given us a couple or three meals as it is how we mix ‘em. I’m glad you enjoyed the commentary Pat, we had fun. Now ginger prep. I apologize but I used Trader Joe’s frozen ginger! There confession is good for the soul. If I had fresh ginger to hand, I will peel off the skin with a veggie peeler, then grate it on a fine grater or the mini prep so as not to get lumps which can be unpleasant if bitten into unexpectedly.

    3. Hmmm. Making notes here. I have some dehydrated ginger that would probably work too. So, no lumps is the important thing!

    4. If I had known you had that much left, Celia, I would have had fourths. :-)

    5. Haha Julia, I did say come for leftovers but you were busy! I’ll give you a doggy bag next making.

  15. One more question. The recipe says a 425 degree oven. Celia says a 400 degree oven. Which is it?

    1. Always for with Celia! I snapped a picture of the oven - I didn't realize she turned it down after preheating it.

  16. I think you have my recipe for this week. I love being an honorary Red, thank you Julia, and we did have a ball doing this. Thank you to all of you for compliments and comments I hope I answered them satisfactorily.

  17. Pat, i’m Sorry about the oven temp question, I should have been clearer. 400degrees is good but 425 isn’t a real problem. Dehydrated ginger should be fine. Do you reconstitute it before cooking? I’ve never worked with it. I must look out for it.

  18. This is so amazing! I am mortified to be so late, especially for such a tour de force, but the whole family was here for the weekend, and… You know. We had a spectacular time, But I fear made nothing as fabulous as this! Hooray for the jungle red cooking show!