Thursday, February 12, 2015

Za'atar Chicken with Fattoush

"February Mystery Box Madness" challenge, the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). We are required to select at least three out these ten ingredients in this month's mystery box ; cabbage, mustard, yoghurt, freekeh or bulgur wheat, za'atar, tomatoes, sausage, carrots, basil, almonds. And we are free to cook from any of the previous featured chefs or the current chef. For this month, I've made one of Nigella Lawson's roasted chicken.

I've used three of the February's Mystery Box Madness challenge ; carrot, tomato and za'atar. I've bought the spice Za'atar ages ago and have not used it before. I could not find Za'atar during our time with Ottolenghi, and only found it months after that. Pretty excited when I found it, but it has been sitting in my pantry since then! 

Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture. It is a mixture of sumac, herbs, salt and sesame seeds, and is used in many meat and vegetable dishes in Middle East. This lovely spice can also be added to olive oil and use as a dip to flatbreads. 

Nigella Lawon's "Za'atar Chicken with Fattoush" is simply delicious. It is simple, and yet so flavourful. Chicken pieces, of which I have used 4 whole chicken legs and separated into thighs and drumsticks, are marinated with just this lovely spice Za'atar, some olive oil and season with some salt,  for a few hours before roasting. 

This simple salad  "Fattoush" makes the perfect side dish to this Za'atar Chicken, they are really good together. I have added some chopped carrots to the salad, to complement this month's Mystery Madness Ingredients, since I have a couple of carrots in my fridge, and it was sweet and crunchy, a lovely addition. The recipe calls for pita bread which I have substituted with a piece of wholemeal tortilla wraps since that was what I had. I cut the tortilla wrap into bite-sized pieces and toasted them over the stove in a dry saucepan until crispy and brown. It's crispy and tasty bite makes such a wonderful addition to the salad. Also I've used fresh coriander leaves instead of parsley and have omitted the mint leaves because I could not find any at the market that morning. I would love to make this salad again with mint leaves! And because I love eating raw onions in salads, I have added one medium onion, cut into rings. The Fattoush is seasoned with salt and lemon juice to taste. I've used less than 2 tablespoons of olive oil instead of the original 6 to 8 tablespoons. To me, this fresh and lovely salad do not need all that extra oil. Just before serving, sprinkle the  Fattoush with some lovely Sumac. 

This Za'atar Chicken is a winner! The chicken is tender and tastes really delicious with the Za'atar spice. Funny thing is, I did not really notice, there are so much of sesame seeds in the Za'atar spice, but they stands out really clear after roasting the chicken. And I love the flavour of the spice, with a light tangy taste of lemon, which is really, really good!  This is one chicken meal that I would cook again. It really is fuss-free and easy. The chicken can be marinated in the morning, leave it in the fridge until it's time to roast in the evening. And when the chicken is almost done (I roasted the chicken pieces at 200C, for about an hour), prepare the salad. Easy-peasy (almost effortless!) and delicious!

Za'atar Chicken with Fattoush
(adapted from "Nigella Fresh", Nigella Lawson)
for the chicken :
1/2 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin)
1 chicken (approx. 3-1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons za'atar (I use about 4 tablespoons)
Maldon or other sea salt

for the fattoush :
2 pita breads (I use wholemeal tortilla wrap)
3 fat scallions, halved and sliced (omitted)
1 cucumber, peeled, quartered lengthwise and chopped
3 tomatoes, diced
1 carrot, diced (my addition)
1 medium onion, cut into rings (my addition)
bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (I use coriander)
bunch fresh mint, chopped (omitted)
1 clove garlic, minced
6-8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I use about 2 tbsps)
juice of 1 lemon (half a lemon)
Maldon or other sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sumac

Pour the oil into a large roasting pan, big enough to fit all the chicken portions in a single layer, and then put in these very chicken portions, rubbing them about in the oil to give them a glossy coating. Sprinkle over the za'atar, and then work into the oily skin of the chicken so that each piece is well covered with the bosky, well-colored spices. Leave the meat to marinate for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. Or you can do all the marinating in a plastic bag; which is certainly easier if you plan to marinate these much in advance - a day or two would be fine.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F and, when the chicken's had its aromatic steeping time, transfer the pan, making sure all the chicken pieces are skin-side up, to the oven. If you've marinated the chicken in a freezer bag, just tumble them out, pushing them skin-side up, into a roasting pan, making absolutely sure you've squeezed over every last drop of the oily spice mixture they've been sitting in.

Roast the chicken portions for about 45 minutes or slightly longer, by which time they should be well cooked, which is how we want them here, and their spice-sprinkled skin burnished and crisp and baked to a fabulous burnt umber. Pile the pieces up, or arrange them as you like on a large flat plate and sprinkle over a little sea salt.

When the chicken's nearly cooked, you can get on with the fattoush. So, cut the pita breads open lengthwise so that you have four very thin halves, and lay them on a baking sheet. Toast them in the oven with the chicken for about 5 minutes to give them a bit of crunch then take them out and leave them somewhere to cool.

In a bowl, combine the scallions, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley and mint and mince in the garlic. With a pair of kitchen scissors, cut the pita into pieces over the bowl of salad - I tend to snip them into rough triangles - and drop them in, leaving a few back for the top. Toss the salad then dress it with the oil and lemon juice, tossing it again. Add some salt, and have a quick taste to see if the ratio of oil and lemon is right, adding more of either if necessary. Sprinkle over the reserved toasted pita triangles and the lovely dark red, deeply bitter sumac, and serve the fattoush right alongside the za'atar chicken.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week "Mystery Box Madness"

grab button for I Heart Cooking Clubs


  1. such a flavorful and yummy chicken ..looks very tempting

  2. I just recently discovered Za'atar too and love it - your chicken looks very tasty!

  3. That does look delicious, Joyce! I have not seen za'atar yet but will be out the look-out for it.

  4. I love this chicken Joyce ! Look delicious!!!

  5. Hi Joyce ,
    HMmmmm good , I bet when all the ingredients come together the taste was awesome . Thanks for sharing . :) ~Nee~

  6. Joyce, this dish is exotic to me but it looks so good! :D

  7. Joyce, this za'atar chicken and the accompanying fattoush salad looks so delicious! Since I love roasted chicken so much, I must try this. By the way where did you buy the za'atar spice?

    1. Hi Phong Hong,
      Do give this a try, it is simple and delicious! I bought the Za'atar spice from Cold Storage at Mid-Valley. Price around RM15 if I remember correctly!
      Roasted chicken is a favourite in my house too! :)

    2. Thanks, Joyce! I will go hunt for it :)

  8. NL has great recipes and this one definitely sounds good. I can imagine how tender and moist the chicken is. Thanks for the recipe, Joyce!

  9. Hi Joyce,
    Wow ! looks really, really good and it is fuss-free and easy to make this roasted chicken. Gotta check out if this spice za'atar is available here.

  10. That's a beautiful dish Joyce! The spices and the fresh ingredients in the salad sound wonderful and I love that you used toasted tortillas - what a great substitute for the pitas.

  11. What a fabulous plate of food and a great use of the MBM ingredients Joyce. You certainly livened up a weeknight chicken dinner. I love Za'atar too and don't seem to use it as often as I like. ;-)

  12. Joyce, I can see how yummy your za'atar chicken looks. I also love how clean and refreshing your fattoush is. The fattoush is perfect for the za'atar chicken you made :) I'm bookmarking this recipe to make soon but now, I really need to find za'atar. It's pretty hard to find such exotic spice over here.

  13. Every time I visit your blog I end up wanting to make the recipe you share! Za'atar is such a unique and flavorful spice and I'm always looking for ways to use it in dishes that my family will enjoy. This is it! I'm going to pin this recipe to make soon. It's looks flavorful and amazing and is perfectly balanced with the fattoush. Gorgeous!