Chicken Fattah

UPDATES shown in Italics – June 28 2015

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Arabic comfort food at its best. Fattah is a wonderfully complex and heart warming arabic dish. It was the first dish my beau cooked for me and it holds a very special place in my heart- and in my stomach!
Fattah is a celebratory meal, traditionally served during Eid or for other special occasions. There are several kinds of fattah: Egyptian, Lebanese, Syrian… The most traditional being lamb fattah, which was the first one I tried. Lamb fattah, in  Egypt, is normally reserved for the celebration of Eid- after Hajj.

Fattah is composed of several elements, mainly bread, rice, meat or a type of grain, sauce, and nuts. The term fattah means soaked bread, thus a good broth is essential {not only for the bread but for the rice as well}! Egyptian fattah consists of a vinegar & garlic sauce, while Middle Eastern countries use a yogurt & tahina sauce.

The following recipe is for Middle Eastern Chicken Fattah. Layers of crunchy bread, rice, and juicy chicken covered in a rich, yogurt-tahini sauce. This dish is topped with toasted nuts, which add complexity and crunch.

Chicken Fattah

This recipe makes about 6 servings

As I mentioned before, there are various elements to this dish, so I like to use time efficiently and prepare it in the following order.

First came the Chicken…

Ingredients Instructions
1.4 kg whole chicken legs
arabic spice*
paprika
cumin
coriander
salt & pepper
Season chicken with salt and let sit in the fridge for about 20 min.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Remove chicken from the fridge and season with paprika, cumin and ground coriander seeds.
Bake at 350°F for 40 min, broil for another 10 or until liquid runs clear and the skin is golden browned.

Never forget the little things…
While the chicken is in the oven I toast the bread, the nuts, and prepare the sauce. Normally the bread and nuts are fried in clarified butter, but since I’m kind of on a healthy streak {and preparing for lovely upcoming events!!} I prefer toasting them. It’s always a good idea to cut down on fat, but if you don’t want to sacrifice flavor you can toast half and fry the rest, compromise!

BREAD
Use about 3 pieces of of arabic bread per recipe. Cut them into 2 cm (about 1 in) squares, drizzle a bit of olive oil, and toast until nicely golden.

NUTS
I use about 1-2 handfuls of sliced almonds and pistachios, each. You can add some pine nuts in the mix too! Toast and reserve.

Yogurt-Tahina Sauce

Ingredients Instructions
1 c. yogurt
1/4 c. tahina
1/2 c. water
2-3 tblsp. lemon juice
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
salt & white pepper
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and rectify seasoning.

Rice
I like to prepare the rice once all the other elements are done, and the chicken is about half way done.

Ingredients Instructions
1 tblsp clarified butter {or oil}
1 1/2 c. rice
2 1/4 c. broth
1-2 cardamom seeds
2 bay leaves
salt
In a pot, over medium high heat, add the butter. Add rice and cook until translucent. Pour the broth, add cardamom and bay leaves, and close the lid. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat to low and cook for about 20 min or until all the water has been absorbed, and the rice is tender.

Finally, my favorite part: the assembly
Once everything is ready you can start plating! Place a layer of bread at the bottom of the dish (or pyrex) pour some broth or yogurt-tahina sauce.Cover with a layer of rice pour more yogurt-tahina sauce over it.

Place the chicken on top. Ladle more sauce on top, sprinkle toasted nuts, and minced parsley.

My mouth is watering as I write the recipe, I want fattah now!!

Thanks for reading! Enjoy!

*Arabic spice is normally a mixture of cumin, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. It may vary according to the region and can contain more or less spices
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