something for the weekend? chicken roasted with middle eastern spices

chicken roasted with middle eastern spices
When it's cold outside I drift along in my own little Arabian Nights fantasy. And since this is my fantasy, I am fortunately not draped in diaphanous gauze and chiffon, trying to woo a king with gossamer tales to save my life. I am not averse to a little bit of chiffon, but this fantasy is less I Dream of Jeanie and more This Little Piggy Goes to Market.

I daydream about spice markets, piled high with fragrant and vibrantly coloured treasures. I enjoy the flight of fancy because it gives me yet another opportunity to decide what we’re having for dinner. It's a beautiful reverie!

So if you haven’t decided on what you’re cooking for Sunday lunch, can I suggest a chicken roasted with middle eastern spices. The spice mix is very similar to the one I used to slow roast a lamb, but slightly sharper, with the sour notes of sumac spice, with the heady earthy flavour of ginger.

By the way, don't let the photograph put you off, it really is delicious!

Skill level: Easy

ingredients:1 x chicken
1 x onion, cut into 4 slices
1 x bay leaf
2-3 x garlic cloves
2cm ginger, peeled and very finely chopped or grated
2-3 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped (leaves and stems)
2-3 tsp sumac (optional)
juice of 1 x fresh lemon, (reserve the shells)
1 tsp salt
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
water (optional)
middle eastern spice mix
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp pink peppercorns
5 x cardamom pods, de-seeded
2-3 x clove buds (or half tsp ground cloves)
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp sweet paprika
quarter tsp fenugreek seeds
quarter tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp cayenne pepper or chilli flakes


  1. Begin by making the spice rub. Heat a small frying pan on a medium heat. When hot, dry fry the solid spices for about 1 minute, shaking the pan every few seconds to prevent the spices from scorching. The coriander seeds will pop a little and you will begin to smell the fragrance of the spices as they are heated. Add the rest of the spices and heat them through briefly.
  2. Put all the spices in a blender together and whizz up until evenly ground.
  3. Add 2 garlic cloves, fresh ginger, fresh coriander, lemon juice, sumac, salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Blitz again until well combined and a thick paste forms.
  4. Season the inside of the chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the remaining squashed garlic clove, the used lemon shells and the bay leaf.
  5. Rub the spice paste all over the chicken - massage it in well. The chicken can marinade in the fridge overnight, but will need to be brought back to room temperature before cooking. Otherwise, the marinade needs about 2 hours to begin to work its aromatic magic.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 220C / Gas Mark 7.
  7. The rule of thumb for cooking a chicken is 20 minutes for every 500g, plus 25 minutes and 10 minutes for resting. So a 1.5kg chicken will cook for 1 hour and 25 minutes, with 10 minutes resting.
  8. Place the onion slices in the bottom of a roasting pan, (to act as a trivet for the chicken). Add about 250ml of water to the bottom of the pan if you want. Place the marinated chicken on top of the onions and roast uncovered for 25 minutes.
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C / Gas Mark 4.
  10. Cover the chicken with foil for the remaining time, basting occasionally. You may need to add a little more water to the bottom of the roasting pan during cooking.
  11. Rest for 10 minutes, covered in foil, before carving.
  12. I served this with a ratatouille-style baked courgette dish; (I'll probably post the recipe next week!) and a fat couscous and feta salad.
  • Leftovers are fabulous stuffed into pitta bread with masses of salad and a little hummus or serve with vegetable couscous.


o cozinheiro este algarve said...

Stop it now you terrible temptress in diaphanous gauze and chiffon.Its Thursday night and I am still thinking left over ham and pease pudding not an exotic middle eastern sunday roast worthy of a king.No but on amore serious note I adore your continuing campaign to encourage us with more interesting ways with our sunday bird.swedtr

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

I wish I was a terrible temptress, but sadly more Mrs Slocombe! I'm glad you're enjoying my Mission Chicken - which I have to confess is partly as a result of being a little brassic. Have you seen the price of lamb? :)

Janice Pattie said...

That does look like a big flavoured dish, great for a cold day.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

It's so good, that I have save up my pennies, bought a leg of lamb and it's about to get the same treatment tomorrow, set for Sunday's roast!

Caroline - All That I'm Eating said...

This sounds so good. It would be lovely to enjoy this as a change to normal roast chicken, would love to try it with lamb too!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Caro - If I'm honest, it tastes better with roast lamb - gorgeous. In fact we had it last Sunday, with another few spice tweaks . . . I shall post soon!