Roast Chicken with Arabic Spices

roast chicken with Arabic spices

I’ve been running to the various Halal markets buying Arabic spices: Sumac, and spices blends Ras el Hanout and Za’atar to make recipes from Ottolenghi’s “Simple” cookbook. Inspired by the recipe on the package of Ras el Hanout, I made this simple but tasty roast chicken. The skin is crisp and flavorful and the meat is moist and tender.

I’ve found that roasting a chicken breast side down yields a much juicier bird, especially the breast meat which benefits from the juices flowing down.

I surrounded it by giant shallots, since they go so well with roast chicken. I left the skins on and just cut off the ends and popped out the tender shallots after roasting.

Arabic spices


  • One chicken (We spend the big bucks to buy Rocky chicken which is organic and air chilled, since it does taste a lot better and I imagine the hens are happier)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 tsp Sumac
  • 2 Tb Ras el Hanout
  • 1 tsp Za’atar
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1 Tb Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic granules or 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • several grinds freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, cut in half
  • 4 large shallots


Preheat oven to 430′. Grease a large roasting pan with oil. Rinse chicken inside and out, and dry with paper towels, then set breast side up on the roasting pan.

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Mix the spices, salt and pepper with the olive oil in a ramekin or small bowl. Use a basting brush to paint the mixture all over the top of the chicken and in the cavity.  Separate the skin from the breast with your fingers, and paint the spice-infused oil under the skin. Place the lemon pieces inside the cavity.

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Flip the chicken over so that it is breast side down. Repeat the spices and oil on the back side, including legs and wings. Place shallots around the chicken.

Roast for 1 1/2 hours at 430′

Nice served with couscous.