Za’atar is a Middle Eastern herb blend, found in various guises from country to country. It is a mix of dried thyme, oregano and marjoram together with salt, sometimes spices and always sesame seeds. This dish is a really simple way to cook chicken. It doesn’t take much preparation and the cooking is as simple as stirring every 10 minutes. And what a lovely, rich – flavourfilled sauce it produces. It was fabulous.
1kg chicken portions
250g natural yoghurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons za’atar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
20 strands saffron (soaked for 20 mins in 4 tablespoons hot water)
1/2 lemon (juice of)
1 onion (finely chopped)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
salt & pepper
Coat the chicken in the combined yoghurt, za’atar, cumin, saffron & liquid and lemon juice and leave for 2 hours at least (overnight is best).
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion and garlic for 4-5 minutes until soft and golden. Tip in the chicken and all its marinade along with 300ml water. Stir well, then bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Remove from the heat, season with salt & pepper and serve immediately.
Serve with rice, or steamed vegetables.