Pomegranate and Za’atar Roast Chicken

This aromatic, tangy chicken recipe is a modified version of a popular chicken kebab from Northern Iran. My version includes few tablespoons of za’atar, Middle Eastern spice made from thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. It isn’t traditional in Persian cooking but works really well with the flavours of Northern Iranian cooking, where you can never bring too many herbs. You can find za’atar in most large supermarkets, in Middle Eastern stores or online – I only every buy the Zaytoun brand which is unmatched for flavour.  You can marinate the meat for anything from 1 to 6 hours, the longer you leave it, the more intense the flavours will be. Just be sure to use the freshest walnuts that you can as old walnuts can go bitter when they go stale. Serve with rice and a green salad.

Serves 4

1kg chicken thighs and drumsticks on the bone

50g walnuts

4 tbsp pomegranate molasses

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

15g fresh mint, finely chopped

15g fresh basil, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

3 tbsp za’tar

Salt and black pepper


Place the walnuts in pestle and mortar or a food processor and smash or blend until they are very fine.

Add the pomegranate molasses, olive oil, mint, basil and garlic and mix well.

Using a knife, slash each chicken piece diagonally a few times, almost down to the bone. Then pour your marinade sauce over the chicken along the za’atar, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 tsp black pepper.  Coat the chicken in the sauce and leave to marinate in the fridge.

When you are ready to cook, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5/375F/190C. Bake the chicken for around 45 minutes or until the juices from the chicken run clear.


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