Recipe: Hamam Mahshi (Cairo-Style Stuffed Pigeon)

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If you can find an appealing pigeon to stuff, here's how.

    • 4 whole pigeons and their giblets
    • 2 cups freekeh (measured before soaking for an hour in cold water)
    • chicken broth
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 5 peppercorns
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 lemon
    • salt

Clean the pigeons very well, inside and out, rubbing with lemon. Salt and pepper the cavities and set aside.

Sauté the onion in a little olive oil. When transparent, add the pigeon giblets, finely chopped. When these are browned, add the soaked and drained freekeh, cinnamon, pepper, and a little salt. Mix well.

Stuff the pigeons with the freekeh mixture. If you don't prefer the pigeon looking at you, you may remove the head and stitch up the neck-skin, although it's much more authentic to leave the head on. Sew up the bottom of the cavity.

Place the birds in a pot, and fill with hot chicken broth until almost covered. Add bay leaves and peppercorns to the broth. If there is leftover freekeh from stuffing, you can throw that into the broth too.

Allow the birds to simmer in the broth for about 30 minutes. Then fish them out and place them on a smoky barbecue. Turn them until well browned on all sides and serve with a dish of the broth from cooking.

To read Maggie's article about searching for stuffed pigeon in Cairo, click here.

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Maggie Schmitt is a freelance researcher and translator based in Madrid.  She is currently working on a book called The Gaza Kitchen with Laila El-Haddad. Learn more at gazakitchens.wordpress.com.

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