Monday, April 30, 2012

Orzo Chicken Salad & Letters to Friends

As featured in the Foodbuzz Top 9 (May 8th, 2012)

In early January 2011, Heba El Kayal, Lifestyle Editor of what recently was The Daily News Egypt, reached out to me, spinning my head with her subdued charm. Setting a date on email to Skype, I wondered what it was that she would ask me and why she had chosen me to interview, an unemployed Egyptian food blogger living in Kuala Lumpur.  All I had ever done was milk out every bit of silliness I had in me for my blog, that coupled with a recipe to go along with said dose of triviality.

Meeting her for the first time through a screen allowed me a glimpse of cold Cairo on a winter morning. Having had to suffer through many a female more concerned with proving through her dress sense that she had what it required to pull off her job, Heba caught me off-guard. A connection was formed at once. 

Bundled up on her bed in a robe and glasses, she greeted me as an old friend as I was quickly taken through the history of The Daily News Egypt. She was interviewing me because she was always on the look out for new talent. She was interviewing me because she thought I deserve some recognition. I did not see myself as talent; just effort and a little luck. 

Today, I have been the weekly food columnist for a year and a good quarter. The Daily News Egypt interview about my blog resulted in an opportunity to write regularly, to sharpen my skills, and most rewarding of all, to find sisterhood in a passerby. 

Heba, I cannot express my appreciation enough - for the days you pushed me to get out of my funk and fly, for the days you embraced my weaknesses and often, sadness. Thank you for being my editor, my keeper, my friend.  
Orzo Chicken Salad
You'll need:
1/2 cup of orzo
1.5 cups of chicken stock
1.5 cups of water
150 grams of grilled chicken, shredded
1 large red bell pepper, diced (I used 1 small red & 1 small yellow)
7 large kalamata olives, seeded and chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 big handful of chives, snipped
3 tablespoons of olive oil 
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon of whole grain mustard
1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water and chicken stock to a boil. Add the orzo to the pot and stir for a moment to ensure that it doesn't stick to the bottom. Cook uncovered until the orzo is al dente. While the pasta is cooking, combine the chicken, bell peppers and olives in a large bowl. Mix half of the chives into the salad. When the orzo is ready, strain and toss through the other ingredients. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lime juice, mustard, chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper to make a light dressing and pour over the orzo salad mixing gently as you go along to ensure it coats the salad ingredients. Garnish with the second half of snipped chives and serve chilled.  


  1. Oh my goodness. This looks like such a perfect dinner. I've never tried orzo, but it's about time I did!!

    1. Hi Cathleen, it's a simple recipe to put together and one that comes in handy on busy days when you don't have time to cook.

  2. Saw you on Foodgawker! This looks like a great meal to bring for lunch. I think I have everything I need, too!

  3. I love these flavors together. COngrats on your top 9!

  4. this looks delicious. I made chicken orzo salad a couple weeks ago and it is amazing how different yours is from mine. Shows how versatile orzo is. Great job.

  5. This looks like one dynamite orzo salad... thanks for sharing!

  6. Congratulations!! What a wonderful experience. And the Chicken Salad is right up my alley. This one will be on my table soon!
    Congrats on the Top 9 as well!1

  7. Congratulations and this looks truly scrumptious!

  8. Heba is a really good friend of mine from high school and an awesome person and it's really nice to see her mentioned so warmly on a food blog =)


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