Chicken fatteh is a decadent dish that is traditionally cooked during Ramadan for a feast. This particular version is my friend Fadia’s recipe. She is a fabulous woman who lives in a stunning modern apartment in the rather beautiful coastal city of Jounieh. Designer shades clamped firmly to her head, she cooked me this incredible recipe.
It’s all about the layers of ingredients; rice, succulent shredded chicken and a creamy tarator sauce that coats everything.
SERVES 6 AS A HUGE MEAL WITH SALAD
1 free-range chicken (about 1.5kg)
1 cinnamon stick (about 10cm long)
4 bay leaves
4 onions, 2 halved and 2 finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
large bunch of finely chopped coriander leaves and stalks
2 teaspoons Lebanese 7 spice or baharat, plus a pinch for garnish
300g Basmati rice
400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
juice of 1/2 lemon
FOR THE TARATOR SAUCE
220g Greek yogurt
juice of 1/2 lemon
35g toasted almond flakes
40g pomegranate seeds
1. Put the chicken into a casserole and cover with about 2–2.5 litres of water. Add the cinnamon, bay leaves and halved onions. Bring to the boil over a high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium–low and cook for 1 1/2–2 hours or until cooked through. Remove the chicken and leave to cool. Discard the skin and bones and shred the meat. Strain the stock and reserve for later.
2. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the chopped onions. Cook for 10–12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds until fragrant. Add all but a handful of the coriander and the 7 spice. Mix well and add the rice. Pour over 600ml of the chicken stock and stir together once. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10–12 minutes or until all the stock has been absorbed by the rice. Remove from the heat and tip in the chickpeas. Cover and leave for 4–5 minutes so that the chickpeas can warm through. Season with a good pinch of salt and add the lemon juice. Fork together.
3. To make the sauce, put the yogurt, tahini, 50ml water and the lemon juice into a small saucepan. Mix well and warm through over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 4–5 minutes. If it gets too thick, just add a little more water and mix well.
4. When you’re ready to eat, tip the rice onto a serving dish and scatter over the shredded chicken. Drizzle a little of the tarator sauce over the top and garnish with the almond flakes, pomegranate seeds and remaining coriander. Add a pinch of Lebanese 7 spice and serve immediately with the remaining sauce in a bowl.
Saffron in the Souks by John Gregory-Smith is published by Kyle Books, £25