Saturday, 10 March 2012

Roast Chicken with sumac, za'atar and lemon

(If you're of Palestinian decent, I apologise for being so excited by a dish which is probably your equivalent of sausage and mash. For the rest of the world, if you want to try something that just tastes so different from anything else, give this one a bash)

As a child, I used to love being taken into London and wandering round Hamleys, gazing at all of the toys on display. As an adult, I get the same thrill browsing aisles of food in ethnic supermarkets, farmers markets, delis etc. This week I visited one of a chain of Turkish food stores called TFC in Leytonstone in search of middle eastern delights. Like all those years ago, my eyes lit up on entering the shop, my only disappointment being that they didn't have trolleys so that I could buy everything in sight. A year ago I'd have thought that sumac and za'atar were Israel's entry into the  Eurovision Song Contest. Today they are my new salt and pepper whilst Pomegranate Molasses has replaced salad cream!

The dish itself is very simple to prep and cook. The smells from the oven are mouthwatering and the taste is amazing. In fact the more you eat, the hungrier you become if you get my drift. As there are so many flavours going on, to serve, I just warmed up some pitta bread and made a sauce from Greek yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice and seasoning. For two people....

Ingredients : 4 large chicken thighs, thinly sliced red onion, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 4 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp ground allspice, 1 tsp ground cinammon, 1tbsp sumac, thinly sliced lemon, 100ml water, seasoning, 2 tbsp za'atar, 10g butter, 20g pine nuts, handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

1. Prick the chicken which will enhance the flavour and place in a large bowl with the onion, garlic, olive oil, spices, lemon, water and seasoning. Mix thoroughly, cover and leave in fridge for up to 24 hours.
2. Pre heat the oven at GM6 / 200 degrees. Transfer the chicken to a roasting tray skin side up and cover with the onions and marinade. Cook for about 35 minutes.
3. Meanwhile melt the butter in a pan and add the pine nuts. Cook until golden and drain.
4. To serve, place chicken on a large plate and sprinkle with the parsley and pine nuts.

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