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Circassian Chicken

Circassian Chicken, which we also call Chicken Sharkaseya in arabic is a very old Turkish recipe which has been adapted to Egyptian Cuisine. Basically it is chicken in a creamy walnut sauce and it is a very satisfying and warming dish which we absolutely love. In basic terms you cook up some chicken by either boiling, frying, grilling (or even use left over chicken). You mould chicken and rice in a bowl, turn over upside down on a plate then top with this creamy walnut sauce.

To add more depth and flavour you add a delicious garlicy paprika oil which works wonderfully to break through the walnut sauce. Our own little twist on this dish is the additiona of caramelised onions between the chicken and rice layer. This is quite an intensive dish to cook up and this is the full version of the recipe  (involved boiling the chicken and creating fresh chicken stock). However we have made it using stock cubes and oven roasted chicken (or even leftover chicken) with no problems.

Circassian Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Also known as Chicken Sharkaseya, this is a delicious warming chicken and walnut sauce dish assembled with rice and caramelised onions
Serves: 2-4
For the chicken & stock
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 3 bay leafs
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 whole black pepper corns
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • Garlic powder
For the walnut Sauce
  • 150g walnuts
  • 4 slices white bread
  • 150-200ml double cream
  • Nutmeg
For the Paprika oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2-3 tsp paprika
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 medium onion
For the Rice
  • 1 cup rice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cardamon powder
  • ½ tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
Cook the chicken and make chicken stock
  1. Wash and trim the chicken, put in a large pot with the stock cube, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leafs, cardamom pods, cloves, black pepper corns and salt.
  2. Cover with water and gently bring to the boil and then simmer for 45-60 minutes until the chicken is cooked. boil the chicken sharkaseya to make the stock
  3. Once the chicken is cooked remove from the pot and place on a roasting tray. Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven on a high heat for 10-20 minutes or until golden brown, remember to baste periodically. roast the chicken needed for circassian chicken recipe
  5. Check the seasoning of the chicken stock and adjust if needed, to concentrate the flavour of the stock return to the heat and allow to cook for a further 20-30 minutes.
Caramelise the onions
  1. To make the caramelised onions, finely slice and fry the onions on a medium heat until golden brown. Adding a sprinkle (1/2 tsp) brown sugar also helps caramelisation, colour and flavour caramelise the onions for chicken sharkaseya
For the Walnut Sauce
  1. Remove the crust from the bread and soak the bread in some of the stock. add stock to the sliced white bread sharkaseya recipe
  2. In a food processer blend the walnuts into a smooth paste. blend the walnuts to a smooth paste in order to make the walnut sauce recipe
  3. Add the soaked bread and blend again
  4. Gradually add some of the stock while blending until the mixture is smooth and creamy. walnut sauce
  5. Sieve the mixture into a sauce pan and bring to the boil, add more stock if the mixture is too thick. walnut sauce recipe - circassian chicken with walnut sauce
  6. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, add a pinch of paprika and nutmeg.
  7. Add the cream and warm through when ready to serve
To make the rice
  1. Melt the butter in a little oil, add the rice, a pinch of salt and 1 tsp cardamom powder
  2. Fry until the grains are all opaque
  3. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of the chicken stock, cover and cook on a very low heat for 15-20 minutes or until all the water is gone and the rice is cooked. cook the fragrant rice recipe for circassian chicken
To make the garlic paprika oil
  1. Put the minced garlic, 1-2 tsp paprika in a pan and cover with olive oil and gently warm through until the garlic is cooked. garlic paprika olive oil sauce
Assemble the Circassian Chicken
  1. Tear the chicken into small pieces mixing some of the leg meat with some of the breast meat. tear the chicken into small pieces for circassian chicken recipe
  2. Place the chicken into the base of a bowl.
  3. Add a layer of caramelised onions
  4. Then top with the rice. assemble the circassian chicken recipe chicken sharkaseya
  5. Invert the bowl onto your serving plate, cover with the walnut sauce, drizzle with the garlic oil and sprinkle with the chopped parsley. assemble the circassian chicken recipe chicken sharkasey
Why not try a Vegetarian/Vegan Version Substitute the chicken for mushrooms fried in Margarine or olive oil, and by using vegetable stock and omitting the cream from the sauce, you can easily make a vegan/vegetarian version

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1 Comment

  1. Diana

    I wanted to cheat and buy a roasted chicken. But opted to give it a try. Yes it was a lot of time consuming work but it was really good. When I tasted the sauce on its own it was quite bland. Definitely needed salt. However, the dish as a whole was very good. I would make it again but would try it with a roasted chicken just to compare to reduce the time factor.


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