What’s in a name?!?  In the middle east, dinner tonight was Dja’jeh Burd’aan b’Teen.  In English, it translates to Orange Chicken with Golden Raisins and Figs.

A rather exotic-sounding and foreign dish made with common ingredients found in almost any home in America.  Orange juice, potatoes, chicken, raisins.  Figs.  Who hasn’t had a Fig Newton at least once in their lives?

I mention all of this because I am just so sick and tired of the hate spewing forth from  people who are wrapping themselves in the flag and calling themselves Americans, yet have no concept of what America is, or what America is supposed to stand for.  The emails I’ve been getting from people who really should know better read like Saturday Night Live skits except people are actually taking them seriously.

“Give me your tired, your poor,your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Unless you’re a Mexican, or, worse yet, a Muslim.

The Crusades ended in 1292.  And began, again, in 2010.  Different location.  Same hate and rhetoric.

What’s sad is, just like the nine Crusades before it, this is based upon ignorance and being perpetrated by politicians who don’t care about you, me, the real victims of the WTC attack, or anyone else but themselves and their power.

This isn’t about a community center in New York City, this is about politicians dividing and conquering us – again.  It’s about their power and the hell with our Constitution, our laws, and our religious freedom.  Blaming all Muslims for the actions of Osama bin Laden is like blaming all Ugandans for Idi Amin or all Americans for Lindsay Lohan.

Give it a rest, folks.

Food.  The great equalizer.  It’s amazing when you look at the cuisines of the world how similar they all are.  But it’s how the ingredients are put together than makes them unique.  Just like people.

Through all of my years of cooking – and eating – I have really come to appreciate just how similar we all are.  Universally, food is about family, community, and sharing.  And, universally, people pretty much just want to live their lives as best they can. Unfortunately, we’re constantly being driven apart with our differences instead of being brought together with our many – many – similarities.

Food.  The common denominator.

Tonight’s common denominator was anything but common.  Slightly sweet  and slightly spicy without being hot, it’s one of my favorite flavor profiles.

It come from the book  A Fistful of Lentils by Jennifer Felicia Abadi

I halved the recipe for two of us but added a lot of figs and served it over whole grain red rice cooked in chicken stock.  I also used two boneless chicken breasts.

Here’s the full recipe.  Enjoy!

Orange Chicken with Golden Raisins and Figs


  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions
  • 2 cups peeled and cubed white potatoes (any kind)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup whole Black Mission figs or the larger, amber-colored Calimyrna figs, cut into halves
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice, strained
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, (preferably Lea & Perrins, or another brand that lists tamarind as an ingredient
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce


  • 3 pounds chicken pieces (white and dark meat)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Several grindings of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

To Serve
1 recipe Basic Syrian Rice (recipe can be found in book)


1. Prepare the sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a medium-size bowl and set aside.

2. Prepare the chicken. Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place on a plate.

3. Combine the salt, pepper, garlic powder, allspice, and paprika in a small bowl. Rub the spices into the chicken skin.

4. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the chicken pieces and brown, cooking for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Pour the sauce over the chicken and simmer, covered, over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through and very moist, 30 to 45 minutes.

5. Serve the chicken pieces over rice, with the sauce spooned on top.