Chicken with Sumac & Preserved Lemon

17th January 2019

Chicken with Sumac & Preserved Lemon

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I was introduced to the food of Ottolenghi about three or four years ago, and since then, I must admit I have been slightly obsessed with the tastes, flavours and aromas of cooking from the Middle East.

Chicken marinating in Sumac

I think the things that stand out for me with many of the recipes from this region is first of all the use of texture. The introduction of various types of nuts, from walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias and pine nuts can completely transform a dish. Furthermore the addition of fruits, pomegranate, dates, apricot add extra texture in the mouth and an intense richness and sweetness.

Ottolenghi the cookbook

The great thing is that generally most of the dishes are super simple, (once you have sourced all the ingredients!). This recipe is based on one of Ottolenghi’s early recipes from ‘Ottolengi The Cookbook’

This was the first of the books I came across from his now vast array of titles. One of the first dishes I made was ‘Roast Chicken with Sumac, za’atar and lemon’. The smells as I prepared the marinade were divine, the heavy scent of the allspice and ground cinnamon followed by the fresh citrus of the sliced lemon. And Oh My God! Once in the oven the whole kitchen came alive as the flavours intensified in the oven.

Tell me about Sumac…

I must admit this was a new one to me when I first came across the recipe, and it took some hunting out. I am delighted to say that this fantastic spice is now available in most UK supermarkets, and if not is easily available online.

It really is something different, it is a bright red/maroon colour, and is made from the berries of the Sumac tree which are grown across the Middle East. The dried berries are ground down into a rich powder, and the flavour is unbelievably citrus, and many recipes from the region utilise this spice in place of lemon juice.

If you’re struggling to find this in your local supermarket you can find it here!

Why you’ll love this chicken recipe

  • The smells and flavours are absolutely fantastic! Soft roasted chicken, in a punchy marinade with the crunch of pine nuts
  • Super easy to make and can be made in advance if you have friends coming round
  • Great to cook a batch of this and use the leftovers for lunches
  • Brilliant on the BBQ which further intensifies the smokiness of the dish
  • It looks brilliant on the table with a little cabbage slaw, homemade pitta breads and garlicky yoghurt dip
  • Whole 30 compliant along with Gluten-free, Paleo & Dairy Free (as long as you don’t make the garlic dip!

How do I make this fantastic dish?

This is my version of the recipe which I have changed over the years and the omission of chicken stock and the red onions being blitzed beforehand result in a drier dish. It also makes the chicken easier to cook on a BBQ which I tend to do a lot.

  1. Start off with a big bowl, get the marinade made – oil, sumac, allspice, ground cinnamon, chillie flakes, salt & pepper, add the chopped preserved lemons, apple cider vinegar, and blitzed red onions
  2. Slice up the chicken and coat in the marinade
  3. Ideally leave for a few hours or overnight before whacking in the oven at about 190C for around 30 minutes or so
  4. Meanwhile, knock up a garlicky yoghurt dip and cabbage slaw
  5. Once cooked remove from the oven – sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and serve along with some warm homemade pitta breads – AMAZING!


Chicken with Sumac & Preserved Lemon

17th January 2019
: 4-6
: 15 min
: 25 min
: 40 min
: Easy


  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp Sumac
  • 1 tsp Allspice
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Chilli Flakes
  • 1 tbsp Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Preserved Lemons finely chopped
  • 1 Red Onion (blitzed in a food processor)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Pine Nuts
  • 1/2 White Cabbage
  • 3 or 4 Chicken Breasts or Thigh Fillets
  • Step 1 Into a large mixing bowl add the oil, all the spices, red onion and preserved lemons.
  • Step 2 Slice up the chicken into strips and stir into the marinade – leave for at least a couple of hours, if not overnight.
  • Step 3 Pour into an oven dish and cook at 180C for about 25 minutes.
  • Step 4 Serve up with toasted pine nuts, fresh parsley and a white cabbage slaw


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