Real Life

Ibrahem’s chicken paradise: “They’re so clucky!”

The farmer’s wild about his free-range friends
Waitoa chicken farmer Ibrahem Break, with Sachie Nomura holding a Waitoa Free Range chicken

Ibrahem Break first fell in love with agriculture as a child in a small village in northern Jordan. There, he’d help his parents on their farm, tending the vegetable garden, nurturing the olive trees, reaping the wheat and barley harvests, plus taking care of the livestock.

These days, he enjoys spending time on his farm in the central Waikato, where Waitoa chickens flourish.

“In Jordan, I developed a deep love for agriculture,” he says. “I looked after sheep, goats and chickens, as well as our trusty horse and donkey, which served as our means of transportation.”

However, Ibrahem struggled with a number of challenges due to the country’s dry climate, thermal stress and a prevalence of poultry disease, meaning he had to rely on barn-raised chickens fed with manufactured feed containing antibiotics.

But seeking a better life and environment 14 years ago, Ibrahem and his wife relocated to Aotearoa.

“New Zealand offers a unique blend of traditional practices, technological advancements and animal wellbeing, and prioritises free-range chicken farming,” he explains. “Along with sustainable methods and a close-knit community, this provides a very fulfilling and rewarding environment for agriculture.”

Waitoa free range chickens freely roaming

Ibrahem also loves New Zealand’s natural beauty.

“It never fails to inspire me,” he smiles. “We have happier and healthier chickens, who have a more diverse diet of naturally foraged pasture.

“They have the chance to enjoy outdoor spaces with natural sunlight and fresh air, and the freedom to move through the range freely, stretch their wings, interact, forage and enjoy the green grass.

All Waitoa products are grown to SPCA Animal Welfare Certified Standards, which ensures an additional level of attention in the production process, and guarantees a higher standard of animal husbandry in production.

“Ultimately, this has a positive impact on the chickens, the environment and the consumers who eat the chicken.”

Ibrahem doesn’t just talk about his chickens – he and his family also enjoy the nutritional benefits.

“For my health, I choose white meat like chicken because they have the freedom to move and be physically active, which leads to improved muscle growth, a more succulent texture and more flavourful meat,” he explains.

However, while he lives here, he enjoys cooking with his family, recreating childhood memories using Waitoa Free Range products in his dishes.

Grape leaves with 
chicken (Waraq Enab)
Grape leaves with chicken (Waraq Enab)

“One dish I adore sharing is Waraq Enab, a delightful seasonal Jordanian food,” he says. “This dish is prepared using indigenous herbs and fresh grape leaves, which are only available during the springtime. As a result, it becomes an especially delightful treat during the spring months. However, I personally love eating it all year round.

“This traditional Jordanian recipe showcases the importance of local ingredients and is known for its simplicity and rich nutritional value. It incorporates a harmonious blend of various herbs and ingredients, such as cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cumin, coriander, paprika and, of course, the star ingredient – Free Range Waitoa Chicken.

“Over my 14 years in the poultry farming industry in New Zealand, I’ve come to contemplate the reasons behind Waitoa’s superior quality,” he says. “The tradition, the landscape, the technological progress, animal welfare, sustainability and the company’s strong sense of community results in a very gratifying and enriching experience as a chicken farmer.

“While Jordan will always be special too, my wife and I are very fortunate to be able to call both countries our home. Living here, and doing what I do, feels like paradise.”

Sachie Nomura and Ibrahem Break, Waitoa chicken farmer, holding a Waraq Enab dish

Ibrahem’s grape leaves with chicken (Waraq Enab)

  • 1 whole Waitoa chicken cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 cups rice
  • 1 tablespoon each of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, cumin, coriander, paprika
  • Olive oil, for frying, plus
  • 2 tablespoons extra
  • Grape leaves
  • 3 medium potatoes, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

Method

  1. To make the filling, soak rice in water for 15 minutes, then wash it. Add the seven spices and olive oil, mixing well.
  2. If the grape leaves are fresh, put water in a pot and heat until boiling. Adding a tiny quantity of grape leaves, leave for a minute on each side while gently pressing with a fork so it remains in the water. If using pickled grape leaves, do not dip them in boiled water.
  3. Wash chicken and chop into pieces. Heat a frying pan on medium heat and add oil. Cook chicken on both sides until golden and cooked.
  4. To enclose filling in grape leaves, open the cooled leaf, spreading it out, then add rice filling. Close edges and wrap. Continue until all grape leaves are used.
  5. Place potatoes, tomatoes, lemon slices, fried chicken and wrapped grape leaves neatly in the bottom of pot.
  6. Pour water over until it covers pot ingredients. And in extra oil, seasoning and tomato paste.
  7. Using your hands, press down on all the components until they are compacted and tightened. Lay any weight on top of the pot.
  8. Heat pot on high heat until it boils, then reduce to low for an hour and a half to cook.
  9. When finished, flip pot over onto a large tray and serve.

See Ibrahem’s episode of Sachie’s Kitchen here where he shows Sachie Nomura the joys of free range chicken farming.

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