There’s this highly technical term that we use all the time in medicine.


“Negotiation” is what us doctors do when we are trying to promote patient adherence. Or, in layman’s terms, how we get patients to actually follow the treatment plan that we set out for them.

As it turns out, most people don’t like to take antibiotics for the entire week that they are prescribed for. (Five days of pill popping! How egregious! But you know what’s even more egregious? Penicillin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae. Just do the full course of medication. Trust me.)

People also don’t seem to want to implement any kind of lifestyle changes. I mean it’s kind of the same deal as New Year’s Resolutions. You are totally gung-ho about them the first week. You go to the gym every day. Eat your 5-A-Day. Take the long way home from work just so you won’t pass by those tantalizing golden arches. (They’re so…yellow. Who could resist?) But then you think, hey, I’ve been really good this week. I deserve a reward. And really, how much damage will one Super Sized Extra Value Meal do…(1500+ calories worth of damage. That’s how much.) But the thing about this kind of stuff is that it’s a domino effect. With the endpoints being coronary artery disease and insulin resistance. Neither of which are fun. Again. Trust me.

So to get people to adhere to the treatment plans that we prescribe for them. We negotiate. Bargain. Bribe.

For example:

I will only give you this prescription for Viagra if you keep taking your Lipitor. (Sex is a pretty powerful negotiating tool. Use with caution.)

What does this have to do with the food? You may be wondering.

Well. Let’s imagine a world. A world in which I am hosting this little blog event called Regional Recipes. And I know you want to participate. I really do. And I’m sure every time I mention it you sit around for an hour dreaming of all the Middle Eastern recipes that you are going to submit. But then a few days pass. And you get busy. Things come up. You forget. And this will happen every week (because I am going to bring it up every week. Have. No. Fear.). Until it is February 28th. At which point you will have missed the deadline. Which will be sad. For everyone involved, but especially for you because Middle Eastern food? Is fantastic.

Here’s where the whole “negotiation” thing comes in.

Let’s make a deal.

It’s Valentine’s Day, right? Some of you may still be searching for that perfect dish to serve to that special someone.

Well, I will give you a recipe. That will knock your socks off. A recipe that seems complicated and complex and decadent. But is really pretty simple. And delicious.

But only if you promise me a submission? Sound good? And also. Please take your ACE inhibitors or beta blockers or HMG CoA reductase inhibitors or whatever other meds you’re on. Your body can thank me for it later.

Chicken With Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey (Djaj Bil Assal)
This Middle Eastern dish of chicken with caramelized onions, baby shallots and honey is mostly savory with a hint of sweet.
Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 lb pearl onions
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1½ lb chicken (I used breasts this time but would go with thighs next time)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1½ tbsp honey
  • 1 bell pepper
  1. Peel the shallots.
  2. Saute the chopped onion until softened in the oil over a medium heat in a pan or casserole large enough to hold the chicken in one layer. Stir in the saffron, ginger and cinnamon, then put in the chicken pieces. Season with salt and pepper and turn to brown them lightly all over.
  3. Add about 1 cup water and cook, covered, over a low heat, turning the pieces over, for 15 minutes, or until the chicken breasts are done. Lift out the breasts and put them to one side. Add the shallots or baby onions and continue to cook, covered, for about 25 minutes, or until the remaining chicken pieces are very tender. During the cooking, stir the onions occasionally.
  4. Lift out the chicken pieces and set to one side. Stir the honey into the pan. Chec the seasoning. You need quite a bit of pepper to mitigate the sweetness. Coo, uncovered, until all the water has evaporated and the onions are brown, caramelized.
  5. Return the chicken to the pan. Spoon the onions on top of them and heat through. Serve.
  6. Peel the pearl onions. Chop the onion and the bell pepper.
  7. Saute the chopped onion and pepper until softened in the oil over a medium heat in a pan or casserole large enough to hold the chicken in one layer. Stir in the saffron, ginger and cinnamon, then put in the chicken pieces. Season with salt and pepper and turn to brown them lightly all over.
  8. Add about 1 cup water and cook, covered, over a low heat, turning the pieces over, for 15 minutes, or until the chicken breasts are done. Lift out the breasts and put them to one side. Add the shallots or baby onions.
  9. Stir the honey into the pan. Check the seasoning. You need quite a bit of pepper to mitigate the sweetness. Cook, uncovered, until all the water has evaporated and the onions are brown, caramelized.
  10. Return the chicken to the pan. Spoon the onions on top of them and heat through. Serve.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ of recipe
You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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63 Responses to Chicken With Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey (Djaj Bil Assal)

  1. Honey + caramelized onions + chicken = satisfying happiness. I love this! Your pictures are so rustic and inviting. Count me in – I was looking at my calendar yesterday – this event is on it – just have to find a recipe.

  2. Elra says:

    You are the most fun and prettiest doctor I know, any plan of doing practice in Palo Alto? Because, I’ll be your best patient and no, you don’t need to negotiate with me. I’ll do anything you ask me to, although, you might ask me to cut down on my butter a bit, lol.

    So, yes … I have that book and agree that many of her recipes are good. Join your event for Middle Eastern cooking? Why not, I am really really addicted to this type of cuisine. Hmm … must admit that you are indeed a good negotiator. Happy Valentine’s day Doc!

  3. This recipe looks mouthwatering! Haven’t seen Claudia Roden’s Arabesque, but definitely looks worth checking out.

  4. Luciana says:

    Hi compliments…this recipe is wonderful…you are very good to cooking…a kiss by Luciana

  5. Kim says:

    After reading through my first middle eastern cookbook I was in love. I went back to the library and got two more books: The New Book of Middle Eastern Food and Arabesque, both by Claudia Roden. I actually bookmarked this recipe that you made because it sounds insanely delicious! I seriously didn’t know that middle eastern food was so delicious. There are so many delicious recipes to choose from.
    Love this one Joanne- it looks awesome!

  6. Call the blog police… and the meds police…

    I have been working hard to get off a blood pressure med this last 6 months and finally got the go ahead to drop it. So, I am drug free now… And i love this recipe, but I have just joined another group, and am not going to join another until after i get settled in new location… But I am stealing this recipe. May have to disquise the name so i can blog it without the blog police on my ass

  7. Mari says:

    OMG! Onions AND Honey???? Mari would love this! and yes I am speaking in third person lol

  8. biz319 says:

    Love everything about this dish – except the onions, I’d leave those out! 😀

    Happy V-Day!

  9. Julie says:

    i have never had middle eastern food before! hmmm sounds like it would be a food party and a half though.

    you are ultra impressive with your food and medicinal genius

  10. doggybloggy says:

    this looks so good – I made goat curry does that qualify – if so I will enter it…

  11. Andreas says:

    That recipe sounds scrumptious.
    Nice plate, by the way.

  12. Kerstin says:

    Sounds like such a flavorful dish! I really need to try some Middle Eastern recipes – I love the food and need to find a good cookbook!

  13. Mary says:

    This really does look lovely. I love the play of flavors in your recipe. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  14. This looks delicious Joanne! ::drool:: lol! Hope you have a happy Valentine’s Day! Love the new photo on your sidebar by the way. So far so good on the cupcakes, icing coming right up 🙂

  15. This sounds delicious! I didn’t know about the regional recipes, but will go read that next – sounds fun and you won’t have to negotiate with me 🙂

  16. this looks so good! AUH! =D
    AWKWARD. first kisses. i think they’re always went to be awkward. UGH!
    yeah. guys are NOT in my high regard right now!


  17. Erica says:

    Happy Valentine’s day!!The flavors in that dish sound fantastic!I love cinnamon and honey with poultry!

  18. I love reading your posts!! You are so creative. This dish looked so delicious.

  19. Chef Aimee says:

    Awesome – I love the layers of flavor here and that touch of honey! Happy Valentine’s Day my dear – I hope its including some good desserts, too!

  20. Barbara says:

    I confess. I’ve never cooked any Middle Eastern food. In fact, today I was looking at a corn and coconut milk soup I want to make…with cumin…does that count?
    Your dish looks wonderful and I don’t see one ingredient I wouldn’t love. I’m copying it now.

    It never ceases to amaze me when friends stop taking medications before they’re supposed to. Why go to the doctor in the first place? And then why complain when you don’t get better?
    I take a ton of vitamin type stuff, via my nutritionist, but the only medication I take is Boniva. And that’s only once a month. I’m lucky at my age to so healthy. Wait, I’m looking for a piece of wood to knock on!

  21. Megan says:

    All right Joanne, I’ll cave – what do I have to do to participate? Email me the requirements.

    But only if you refill my prescription for chocolate. 5 doses a day, please.

  22. Debbi Smith says:

    This looks outstanding. Very simple. I like recipes like that. I need to get me some saffron though.

  23. Amy says:

    Heh heh. I like how you pulled us into that one. I’ll be one of those readers you’re referring to, which is why I will not commit! I just may surprise you, though. We’ll see. My god, I do love Middle Eastern food. I was just drooling over at Natashya’s place, reading about her feast. YUM.

  24. Jen says:

    happy valentine’s day! love your new picture up there too!

  25. Mid eastern…….I will look for a recipe. That is all, I will commit for now. I am trying to keep my head up and not have it snoring on the keyboard.

    This recipe is mine. I want to make it. You are right. It has to be good.

    Your old buddy

  26. love your posts yep there is a skill to communicate with patients
    this dish looks amazing

    and you look so cute in the new pic

  27. You are too funny!
    I am coveting this book.
    The recipe looks delish!

  28. recipe sounds good, very delicious and mouthwatering…

  29. ha ha,oh i dont negotiate a wee bit…specially if it involves a Penicillin-resistant injection with maintnce….my no is no and u either cave in or run after the wailing me and boy u’ll never catch me……..heheheheheheehe…..

    Ur so right ,i planned to be with u on this one too and the eliciousness of the recipes is all i need to whip up a dinner as good…

    Delicious days are here sweety-have got 3 awards lined for u my sweet happy pal,do stop by and pic ’em up coz they are topped with loads of love,yeah valemtines=love@365……

    Hope u love ’em as muc as i do!!!!!

  30. Sophie says:

    Waw,…what a lovely & appetizing dish, Joanne!!

    I just gave you an AWARD!!! Why?

    You can read it over @ my latest post!!


  31. Katy ~ says:

    This sounds crazy good. Bookmarked!

  32. A fabulous dish, I absolutely have to try this specialty! I just love those caramelized baby onions!

  33. I am a BIG fan of Claudia Roden and just because of her I will definitely try it!

  34. Joanne says:

    My husband would go crazy of that recipe. I bet it could be “Vegetarianized” by using tempeh.

  35. ruchikacooks says:

    I am drooling to make a veggie version of it Jo. I am a zombie without my cuppa coffee and I think dear hubby makes it so that I can gear up for breakfast duties 😀

    I sometimes do that- take a prescribed medicine for 2 days and stop it coz I am better though it is better to finish off the dose 🙁

    Hope your V’ s day celebrations were good.

    Let me know if you want me to advertise the event on my space. Would be glad to add it to on going events sections.

  36. Okay, you’ve given me extra incentive to get back into the kitchen. Seems like a fun event!

  37. Jennifer says:

    I adore caramelized onions and sweet spices with chicken! what a fabulous dish!

  38. Sippity Sup says:

    You may have bargained me right into the competition (I know there are no winners, but calling it a competetion gets my competive juices flowing, so that how I bargain myslef in) I am traveling but will return to LA and put my thinking cap on. Maybe I’ll do a roasted eggpplant dip I love so much. GREG

  39. chrystad72 says:

    Hey sweetie! How did you test go? Im sure you rocked it out! I was always really conscious of taking all my meds for the whole time. Im a terrible sick patient and I always want to get better asap. One the rare occasions I go into the docs office I always tell that I will do whatever they say just make me better! haha. And as always this is one gorgeous dish. Seriously! You never cease to amaze me. I love the gorgeous flavors. Saffron is something that I dont use very often but would love to try and incorporate it more. I hope you have an awesome week hon. Is it going to be more calm for ya? I hope so!!

  40. Nicole, RD says:

    Haha! Love it! Sex is a powerful negotiation leverage and I use it often (but cautiously)! Young diabetic male with uncontrolled blood sugars — maybe a little, “Did you know that living with uncontrolled diabetes will lead to impotence over time?” can really pique interest in diet and insulin compliance. But it’s true! 🙂 Happy belated Valentine’s Day…that dish looks dynamite!

  41. Great Pictures! I a pure foodie orgasm! Is there some medication for that? LOL!


  42. ARUNA says:

    Gosh this dish looks so tempting!!!

  43. PJ says:

    lol, you sure know how to negotiate your way, Joanne! For this delicious recipe, I’ll make the deal with you 🙂 Love the middle eastern spices that went into this recipe. Infact, I do have a good middle eastern recipe planned for you, after the super-tight weekend I think I should get back to cooking now 🙂

  44. msmeanie says:

    Oh wow. That dish sounds fabulous. I bet all the flavors meld really well: honey, cinnamon, ginger, onions…oh my! I agree, Middle Eastern food is fantastic.

  45. Karine says:

    I said to one of my co-workers (who is from Pakistani descent) that I need to learn to cook Middle East cuisine (As I am an absolute idiot on that subject).

    Great combo of flavors in your recipe!

  46. Bob says:

    If I can find a middle eastern recipe my girlfriend will eat I’ll definitely submit it. Heh. Hmm, I have been wanting to make something with lamb…

    Also, people who don’t take all their antibiotics piss me off. I never understood it, even before I worked in a hospital and got to listen to the nurses complain. Heh.

  47. teresa says:

    they’re just so yellow, lol! you always crack me up! this looks fantastic! i love all the flavors.

    your new picture is so cute!

  48. Love the whole, kleine (dutch for little) onions….. and caramelised too….superb!

  49. The saffron and honey combination sounds unbelievable. That’s a great idea for a flavor mix. Thanks for this recipe!

  50. Fimère says:

    je te souhaite une joyeuse st Valentin un peu en retard
    ton plat parait très savoureux
    bonne soirée

  51. Mmmm, sounds good. I love middle eastern food, I just might have to start thinking of a recipe now!

  52. Bridgett says:

    Ha Ha, I love it. My husband “negotiates” with his patients daily and I love hearing some of the stories sometimes. This chicken looks absolutely delicious and full of flavor. A gorgeous recipe.

  53. Debbie says:

    Looks fantastic and I’m sure it is delicious! I love the addition of ginger and honey! Negotiate? Not just for doctors and patients but husbands and wives too!!!! lol…..

  54. Looks delicious. Can’t wait to try this.

  55. Saffron, honey and pearl onions. What’s not to like? This chicken recipe is a keeper!!

  56. sophia says:

    caramelized BABY onions? Ooh those adorable, sexy little bulbs. What a tantalizing Valentines meal, Joanne! So, when will you invite me over? 😉

  57. Your posts never fail to crack me up. The chicken looks awesome!

  58. Marisa says:

    Happy (belated) Valentine’s to you too Joanne! The chicken looks superb! (one of the recipes from Arabesque I’ve been meaning to try)

  59. Debinhawaii says:

    Looks delicious. I need to cook out of that book more and join in the RR. I am cooking Middle Eastern in morning class on Saturday and hoping to find a recipe to submit (multi-tasking!) 😉

  60. Hannah says:

    I have a serious weakness for caramelized onions- Throw them on just about anything and it instantly sounds delicious! Now I’m thinking seitan instead of chicken, but I like the basic idea here!

  61. This is gorgeous! 🙂 Mmm, delish!

  62. I so did wanna suprise ya making it(ok but its a suprise) but guess u missed out the shallots in the recipe….ok i could be creative and jus toss in a whole few as i can see in the pic ,yet am writing this…….by the time i figure it’ll be published:-)))))))

  63. Michelle says:

    Delicious sounding recipe and it sure would have been better then what I had tonight!

    Honestly, I don’t know how to go to medical school, cook and bake and keep up your blog. You are wonder woman!

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