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Author Notes: The Mountain Jews of Azerbaijan need hearty food to sustain them through bitter winters. Their culinary heritage draws much on Persian influence, and a staple dish is khoyagusht. Baked in a pan, the eggs puff up like an omelet, encasing the shreds of tender chicken below. It is usually served cut in wedges with rice, but any leftovers make a great filling wrapped in flatbread.
Reprinted with permission from Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & The Caucasus by Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford —Eleanor Ford
For the poached chicken:
- 2 chicken legs
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
For the omelet:
- 2 tablespoons butter or oil
- 2 onions, sliced
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 7 ounces cooked and peeled chestnuts, halved
- 4 eggs
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Put the chicken legs in a pan with all the aromatics and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, cover the pan, and turn the heat down to simmer for 25 to 30 minutes until cooked through. Drain the chicken and reserve the broth. Remove the skin and bones, and shred the meat.
- For the khoyagusht, heat a frying pan and add the butter or oil and any fat from the top of the broth. Cook the onions until softened, then add a ladleful of the broth from the chicken. Continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated and the onions are light golden. Season with salt and pepper and add the turmeric and paprika.
- Add the shredded chicken and the chestnuts to the pan, and stir everything together. Moisten with another small ladleful of the chicken broth. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes for the flavors to meld.
- Heat the broiler. Lightly beat the eggs with salt and pepper. Pour over the top of the meat and use a spoon to make holes in the meat, encouraging the egg into the gaps. Put under the hot broiler just to set the eggs and slightly brown the top. (You may need to protect the handle of the pan.) Leave the khoyagusht to sit in the pan for 5 minutes before turning onto a plate and cutting into wedges to serve.
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