clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Middle Eastern Chicken and Rice Fattah



For the chicken:

  • chicken: a 2 1/2-3 pound whole chicken, chicken parts, or 2-3 smaller chickens
  • 2 cups of buttermilk or yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Baharat (click for recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the spiced broth:

  • 1 large onion roughly chopped
  • 2 lbs chicken bones and/or carcasses
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon Baharat
  • 1-2 chicken bouillon cubes to taste

For the saj bread base:

  • 1 large saj or markouk bread, about 6oz, 170g

For the almond and pine nuts:

  • 1 cup whole almonds (5.7oz, 162g)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (1.3oz, 37g)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • salt

For the ground meat topping:

  • 1/2 lb ground beef or lamb (227g)
  • 1 teaspoon Baharat
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

For the rice:

  • 3 cups rice (I use a medium grain jasmine rice.)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon Baharat
  • 5 cups (or as necessary) spiced broth
  • salt to taste
  • 5 cups spiced broth

For the yogurt sauce:

  • 2 cups plain yogurt (17oz, 482g)
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed, smashed, or chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

For the garlicky lemon and chili sauce

  • 6 cloves garlic, pressed, smashed, or chopped fine
  • 2-3 green chilies chopped fine, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice


For the chicken:

  1. Begin marinating the chicken the day before cooking. Mix buttermilk or yogurt, Baharat, and salt in a large ziplock bag. Add the chicken, press out any excess air, and put in refrigerator to marinate overnight.
  2. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let rest on the counter 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Wipe off excess buttermilk or yogurt, place in a baking pan, and brush with vegetable oil.
  5. Bake until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh but not touching the bone registers 165 degrees F.

For the spicy broth:

  1. Make a chicken stock with the chicken bones, onion, celery, bay leaf, salt, pepper and enough water to cover the bones and yield 2 quarts broth. I make mine in the pressure cooker for one hour. Alternatively, you can cook it on the stovetop for 2-3 hours. As a shortcut, you can use store-bought broth.
  2. In a separate pan, sauté the finely chopped onion in butter until soft. Add 2 quarts of chicken broth, chicken bouillon cube, and Baharat. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Taste broth and adjust the salt and pepper.

For the saj bread:

  1. Rip the bread into bite sized pieces and allow to sit uncovered for several hours to dry out. You can speed this up by drying it in a warm oven.

For the almonds and pine nuts:

  1. If your almonds have the skin on, boil in water for a few minutes. Drain and let cool. The skins are easily pulled off. Cut almonds in half.
  2. Cook pine nuts in 1/3 cup oil over medium-high heat until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon.
  3. Cook almonds in same oil until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon.
  4. Lightly salt almonds and pine nuts and set aside.

For the ground meat topping:

  1. Saute the ground beef or lamb, Baharat, and salt (using a little oil if necessary) breaking apart the meat with a wooden spoon, until brown and crumbly.

For the rice: *see note

  1. Melt butter in a medium-large sized pan.
  2. Saute rice for 30 seconds.
  3. Add Baharat and broth. Taste and adjust salt as necessary.
  4. Bring to a boil. Turn on low and keep covered. Allow to cook for 7 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork.

For the yogurt sauce:

  1. Combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Keep in the refrigerator until needed.

For the garlicky lemon and chili sauce:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix.

To assemble and serve:

  1. Pour enough hot spiced broth over dried saj bread in serving dish to moisten all of it, about 2-3 cups. Let it absorb the broth for a few minutes. See photo above for how it should look.
  2. Spread rice on top of saj bread.
  3. Layer ground meat topping on top of rice.
  4. Sprinkle almonds and pine nuts over rice and meat.
  5. Place chicken on top of rice.
  6. Drizzle everything with yogurt sauce if desired, or serve sauce separately.
  7. Serve garlicky lemon and chili sauce separately.


*This method works for the type and brand of rice I use. If you have a preferred method of cooking rice, by all means use it. Different types of rice will need different liquid and cooking time requirements.