Helen Graves’s chicken wings with tahini and za’atar recipe

Could you use shop-bought za’atar for this? Absolutely, but it won’t be the same dish, so please bear that in mind. This recipe makes a large batch of za’atar, tastes a thousand times nicer and is good for throwing on anything from eggs in the morning to flatbreads, salads and grilled fish. Both the tahini sauce and za’atar can be made the day before.

chicken wings
Rob Billington

SETUP Indirect cooking
PREP TIME 25 minutes, plus minimum 3 hours marinating time (or overnight if possible)
COOK TIME 30 minutes

1 tbsp Turkish red pepper paste (biber salcasi, see tip)
75ml sunflower oil
Juice of 1 lemon
4 garlic cloves, crushed or finely grated
1 heaped tbsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper, see tip)
20 chicken wings (separated into flats and drums if you like)
Sea salt

150g sesame seeds
4 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp sumac
2 tbsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp ras el hanout
1⁄2 tsp edible rose petals (see tip)

8 garlic cloves, crushed
6 tbsp tahini
Juice of 4 lemons
2 tbsp olive oil

  1. Combine the biber salcasi, sunflower oil, lemon juice, garlic and pul biber to make the marinade. Place the wings in a non-reactive dish and add the marinade, mixing thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 3 hours.
  2. To make the za’atar, first toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until golden, keeping a careful eye on them to make sure they don’t burn, and stirring regularly. Allow them to cool, then mix with all the other ingredients. Store in an airtight container away from bright light. The za’atar will stay fresh for a few weeks.
  3. To make the tahini sauce, mix the garlic in a bowl with the tahini. Slowly whisk in the lemon juice and loosen with a splash of cold water and some salt. Finally, whisk in the olive oil. It should be sharp and well-seasoned.
  4. Prepare a barbecue for indirect cooking over medium heat, with the coals arranged in the centre of the barbecue and space around the edge.
  5. Once the barbecue is ready, arrange the marinated wings in a circle around the coals, but not directly over them. Cook the wings for about 30 minutes, turning them every so often, until cooked through and caramelised. You can move the wings further into the centre of the barbecue as the coals burn down.
  6. Serve the wings drizzled with the tahini sauce and sprinkled with the za’atar.

TO COOK INDOORS Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Bake the wings on a roasting tray for about 45 minutes or until crispy and cooked through.

TIP Biber salcasi is available from amazon.co.uk or souschef.co.uk; find pul biber and rose petals at Waitrose.

Buy the book

live fireOur recipes are taken from Live Fire: Seasonal Barbecue Recipes and Stories of Live Fire Traditions Old and New by Helen Graves (Hardie Grant, £26). To order a copy for £22.10 with free p&p until 19 May, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937.