Lemony Garlic Chicken with Rice and Yogurt Sauce (Fattet D’jaj)2016-03-07
This recipe is from the book Modern Flavors of Arabia: Recipes and Memories from My Middle Eastern Kitchen.
Don’t be put off by the number of steps and layer in this recipe. Fattet d’ jaj is truly a simple dish. I like to toast the nuts the day before. The yogurt topping can be made ahead and left in the fridge. To save time, I fry large quantities of pita bread and keep them in the freezer. To ensure everything finishes cooking at once, start making the rice ten minutes before the chicken i done. The reward of dipping into the sumptuous layers of crunchy bread, hot rice, lemony chicken and cool yogurt studded with buttery nuts is sublime like nothing else.
- 2 large pita breads
- ¼ cup peanut oil
- YOGURT SAUCE
- 3 cups full-fat yogurt
- 2 cloves garlic, mashed
- sea salt
- CHICKEN LAYER
- 10 cloves garlic, mahed
- 1 whole chicken (2 pounds)
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tablespoons peanut oil
- Juice of 3 lemons
- RICE LAYER
- 3 Tablespoons clarified butter
- 2 cups short-grain white rice, presoaked, drained
- ½ teaspoon tumeric
- sea salt
- 4 cups water
- TO GARNISH
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- ¼ cup toasted chopped pistachios
- ¼ cup toasted slivered almonds
Split each pita into 2 rounds and cut into bite-sized squares. In a large frying pan heat the peanut oil and fry the bread squares until crisp and golden. Drain on absorbent paper and set aside.
In a bowl mix the yogurt and mashed garlic and alt to make a sauce and put aside.
Take the 10 cloves of mashed garlic and rub all over the chicken, getting some under the skin. Season with salt and pepper. In a large enough pot, heat the oil and place the whole chicken to brown all over. Pour in all of the lemon juice. Bring the heat down to a simmer, cover and leave the chicken to braise until it falls off the bone (about 40 minutes). Remove all of the skin and bones and discard. Reserve the meat in its lemony sauce.
While the chicken is cooking, it is a good time to make the rice. In a pot, heat the clarified butter and stir in the drained rice. Add the turmeric and salt. Mix well to coat each grain. Pour in the water to cover the rice by 1 inch. Allow to come to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and leave to cook undisturbed until the liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. leave covered until ready to serve.
To assemble, place some of the croutons in a serving platter, followed by a layer of hot rice. Mound the chicken with its lemony sauce on top. Drizzle the yogurt sauce over everything and garnish with the nuts. Serve immediately.