Did you ever think plain old chicken could be decadent? Here is an amazing recipe for Turkish-style chicken and walnut paste, better known as "Circassian chicken" that will totally surprise you.
Why? As many Turkish recipes do, it takes very simple, inexpensive ingredients and transforms them into a rich, delicious and exotic dish that's fancy enough to serve on special occassions. And it's served cold to boot!
All you need is a whole chicken, some stale bread, walnuts, garlic and a few spices and you're ready to begin.
Where did this dish originally come from? The Circassians were a tribal, warlike people who inhabited the Caucasus mountains to the east of Turkey.
Today, this area spans through parts of Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Iran and even Northern Syria.
This recipe was adopted into Turkish cuisine during the Ottoman occupation of this region over several hundred years.
Now, although the name has remained, Circassian chicken has taken its place as a classic Turkish appetizer or "meze." It's served in better restaurants and made lovingly for special gatherings at home.
Circassian chicken is one of my favorite recipes for buffet-style entertaining. One recipe makes enough for at least 10 persons if not more.
A platter decorated with walnut halves and drizzled with paprika mixed with olive oil looks attractive on any buffet table. Serve it with toasted bread or crackers and get ready for compliments.
You can freeze the leftovers to use at your next party, too.
Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2012