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Uyghur pollo (a recipe)

In faraway Urumqi, the local Uyghur people eat pollo.

With my Uyghur friend visiting us this week, I had occasion to make my version of pollo.

Urumqi is the capital city of Xinjiang Province, situated in the extreme northwestern corner of China. Put the words "bleak" and "beautiful" together and Xinjiang would fit that description.

I've been to Urumqi twice to teach English, and my memories of the city are never too far from pollo. Pollo is a Uyghur staple, made of lamb and rice and an assortment of dried fruits and spices.

I usually make pollo with chicken. I was a little "sheepish" using chicken for my Uyghur friend, but was relieved when he told me even he makes it with chicken. So here:

(By the way, I'm not one for measuring all items in recipes. I view cooking as an art, not a science. So I give visual indicators of when a quantity is enough. The recipe below served eight adults, with generous leftovers).

Chicken thigh fillets (about 2 lbs), cut into 3/4" cubes.

24 hours prior to serving: marinate the chicken pieces in a mixture of: olive oil, white wine, corn starch, salt, cinnamon, garam marsala, ground coriander, and paprika. In what quantities? Well, toss the chicken in the marinade, adding the ingredients, until the whole composition has a reddish-brown hue to it. You will be adjusting these quantities during cooking anyway.

Separately, make 4 cups of jasmine rice (or basmati) in a rice cooker. Use a little more water than needed; this'll make the cooked rice additionally moist in preparation for mixing with the chicken.

In a large pan or wok (I mean large): place one coarsely chopped onion, some chopped dried apricots, and some raisins, into about 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and heat. When hot, stir-fry in the marinated chicken. How much apricots and raisins? Well, enough to notice them. Stir until the chicken pieces are tender and edible.

Then: add the rice, and keep working the mixture until the chicken and flavoring permeates throughout the rice. Add salt and the various spices until it suits your taste. If the mixture gets too dry, add some additional olive oil and stir it in. Serve.

The drink in the picture is kvaas, also a Uyhgur staple. I simulate it this way: 50% apple cider, 50% diet Squirt. If you want a little extra kick, dump in some beer.


Act 20:11
When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.


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