This is a recipe I saw in Saveur magazine a few years ago, proper name Djaj-Bil-Bahar-Il-Asfar Chicken, but I just call it my ‘kitchen sink’ chicken due to the sheer volume of spices you throw at it! It has a beautiful smoky & sweet flavour, with multiple layers of spice hitting you as you eat it, & creates a wonderful smell whilst cooking, hinting at the taste sensation that is about to come.
I made some substitutions to their recipe when I first made it as I didn’t have all the ingredients they listed, & I feel the result is equally delicious having subsequently tried the original. Cook it on the stove / oven as I generally do, or throw it on the barbecue & just wait for the ‘what IS that you’re cooking? smells divine’ comments to come rolling in.
One chicken, halved or quartered (quartering easier if barbequing)
1 tbsp date syrup (use treacle or honey as a substitute)
1 tsp rosewater
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
8 cardamom pods
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp chile flakes
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp sumac
2 tsp ground ginger
1 freshly grated nutmeg
8 cloves garlic
In a small bowl, mix the date syrup & rosewater, then rub into the chicken – this will help the spice mixture to stick to the chicken.
Take the coriander, cumin, peppercorns, cardamom, fennel & cloves & toast in a dry frying pan, then grind in a spice grinder / pestle & mortar. Place in a bowl.
Place the garlic & the salt in a pestle & mortar & grind to a paste, then add to the bowl along with all the other spices. Combine well with your fingers, to create a dry rub. Coat the chicken in this dry rub, taking time to get it into all the nooks & cranny on the chicken, both sides. Place the chicken on a plate / bowl & cover, then refrigerate for 6 -24 hours.
Take the chicken out of the fridge ½ hour before you’re ready to cook. Preheat the oven to 220 °C / 200 °C fan / gas mark 7, & heat a griddle pan on your hob. Griddle the chicken for 10 minutes (5 mins each side) so that it gets a nice char, then if your griddle pan is oven proof, place directly in the oven for a further 40 minutes (if not, just transfer to a roasting tin). Leave to rest for 10 mins before serving on a bed of salad leaves & tomatoes & some naan bread.