I have to say Mediterranean/Middle Eastern cuisine is one of my favourite things to eat. Fattoush, Shish Taouk, Tabouleh, Hummus, Kibbeh I love them all. I’ve even had raw Kibbeh, yup that’s right raw ground beef. One of my friends mother was from Lebanon and used to cook all these delicious foods and one day raw Kibbeh was on the menu so I gave it a try. I honestly can’t remember what it was like but I have to assume since I was a fussy teenager at the time it must have been good or I wouldn’t have eaten it, or maybe I was just biding my time till dessert was served, which was most likely Baklava.
This is a simple recipe but has a couple ingredients you may not have in your pantry Sumac and Za’atar. Sumac can be found at the Bulk Barn. I’ve found Za’atar in the specialty food section of the Superstore or you could find both at a specialty store. Locally in Halifax there is the Mideast Food Center at the corner of North and Agricola.
Sumac used in this recipe is not the same poisonous Sumac found in North America. Sumac is reddish in colour and comes from berries that are found on a bush that grows wild across the Mediterranean. Sumac has a tart flavour and is often used in place of lemon for the flavour without the acidity of citrus. It is a source of antioxidants and is said to have antimicrobial properties as well as aid in digestion.
Za’atar is a blend of herbs and spices. The mixture varies by region but usually contains Thyme, Marjoram, and Oregano. Sumac and Sesame Seeds are other common additions. One of the more common ways to use Za’atar is to mix it with olive oil and use as a dip for soft flat bread for a simple and tasty snack.
Mediterranean Marinated Chicken
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- small red onion thinly sliced,
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp sumac
- 1 lemon cut in wedges
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp za’atar
- 2 or 3 tbsp pine nuts toasted
- 3 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
Combine garlic, half the sliced onion, allspice, cinnamon, sumac, s & p, lemon wedges and chicken stock add chicken and marinate for at least a few hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 375. Place chicken and marinade in a baking dish add remaining onion and sprinkle with za’atar. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Scatter pine nuts over top and continue cooking till juices run clear. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Next time you’re in the grocery store have a look in the Specialty or International food section. You never know what yummy things you will find, and if you have a specialty grocery store in your area stop in and have a look around the spices you will find there will be much more flavourful than you will find in the bottles at the grocery store.
Check back for the Sumac Coriander Rice