Do you ever have those days where you feel completely and utterly demotivated? Who am I kidding – of course you do. We all do. It’s part of the human condition, unfortunately.
I woke up this morning feeling exactly like that. I had a blog post to write and yet I had no words. Not one. And what’s worse is that once you start your day in this vein, it’s pretty much a downward spiral from there. Unless we choose differently. We really can choose differently.
I am incredibly lucky in that I have a husband who will tell it to me straight when I get myself into a stink like that. He’ll fearlessly tell me what I need to hear, instead of what I want to hear. That’s a miracle and I am truly grateful for it.
So, he told me that I was stuck in my head (NEVER a good place to be) and that I should stop what I was doing and get out for a walk. Trust me, that is not what I wanted to hear. “You mean I have to change out of my trackie bottoms and actually leave the warm cosy house? You already told me this morning that it’s -1ºC out there.”
But deep down, I knew he was right. So I pulled on my jeans, put on my boots and coat and scarf and ventured out into the world. It was a beautiful morning – the fields next to my house were blanketed in frost and there was not a cloud in the sky.
I walked peacefully to the spot I go to gather my thoughts. Just a simple bridge over a small river, it’s where I always go to reconnect. And it was like I was just meant to be there in that precise moment. As I arrived, a group of buzzards flew low above my head. I counted five of the mesmerizing birds swooping and calling to each other. What a majestic sight. I’m so grateful I was there in that moment.
Paying attention to my surroundings brings me back to the moment everytime – birds tweeting, buzzards calling, the river rushing, church bells ringing, sunshine glinting – peace was restored. I was reminded that I had everything I needed. All this, just a five minute walk from my house. In that moment, I had no need to be anywhere other than where I was. And what’s more, I knew what I was going to write about. This is my blog after all – a place to write about my experiences, about whatever is in my heart.
I came home and got straight in the kitchen to test some recipes. Got back into the flow. Regained perspective. Took the pressure off. And I feel all the better for it.
And so to the food! This blood orange sumac chicken tabbouleh is fresh and vibrant. It is the perfect dish to pack for lunch, especially as it is so quick and easy to put together. I just can’t stop using blood oranges – their flavour is both sweet and sour and so much more complex than a regular orange. I love ’em.
The chicken is so simple and yet packed full of flavour – the blood orange zest combined with the citrussy sumac really packs a punch. (If you haven’t tried sumac yet, what are you waiting for?!) The succulent chicken combined with the sweetly spiced, nutty bulgur wheat, the grassy herbs and the bright pops of juicy blood orange makes for a delicious dish indeed. This would be great not only for lunch, but also as part of a Middle Eastern mezze. Or, you could serve up the chicken on the side and throw some toasted nuts into the salad. I’m willing to bet the spice mix would be great on fish too, if you prefer. And of course, try some different herbs in there too. The possibilities are endless!
Blood Orange Sumac Chicken Tabbouleh
- 2 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 200 g bulgur wheat (1 heaping cup)
- 400 ml cold water (1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons)
- 1 large chicken breast fillet (200 g)
- 3 blood oranges zest and juice of 1, the other 2 peeled and chopped into chunks
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sumac
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or use 1 clove fresh garlic
- pinch chilli flakes
- small bunch of parsley (25 g) finely chopped
- small bunch of coriander (25 g) finely chopped
- 4 spring onions sliced
- Start by cooking the bulgur wheat. Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into a small saucepan along with the cinnamon and heat gently until starting to sizzle. Add the bulgur wheat and stir. Continue to cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes until the bulgur wheat smells toasted and fragrant. Add the water and a big pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cover with foil or a tight-fitting lid and turn the heat down as low as it will go. Cook for 10 minutes and turn off the heat. Leave to steam for 5 minutes before fluffing up the grains with a fork. Set aside to cool.
- Cut the chicken into very small bite-sized pieces. Place in a small bowl along with the zest of 1 blood orange and the sumac, garlic powder, chilli flakes and a good pinch of salt. Mix together well. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and add the chicken pieces. Fry the chicken pieces over medium heat until cooked through. This shouldn't take longer than a couple of minutes as the pieces are so small, so take care not to overcook.
- In a large bowl mix together the cooled bulgur wheat, the blood orange chunks and the juice of 1 blood orange, the herbs and the spring onions. Taste and season if needed and add a drizzle of oil if liked. Serve with the chicken on top or mixed throughout if preferred.
- Finish with a sprinkle of sumac, if you like.