Lemon chicken with Sumac and Za’atar


Prep time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4 people

After the books “Jerusalem” and “Simple” it’s now the turn of “Falastin” the latest book by Sami Tamimi (co-author of Jerusalem with Yotam Ottolenghi) to find a place in my bookshelf (actually I’ll always find a place for their books).

 What appeals to me the most about their recipes is that these two exceptional chefs are inspired by their childhoods and the traditions of the ME to deliver recipes with a twist of daring and modern creativity.

First of all, know that the recipe that I’m sharing with you today is effortless.  I recommend you prepare your chicken ahead of time and keep it in the fridge overnight, if possible, so that the chicken soaks up all the flavors of the marinade.  This recipe can be made with different pieces of chicken, but I chose the thighs as they are the most tender and juicy.

This chicken comes out incredibly fragrant and slightly tangy thanks to the lemon and sumac.  Symbolizing ME cuisine, sumac is a dark red spice with a vinegar flavor, found in the famous Lebanese salad “fattouch”, in grilled meats or in the famous Palestinian dish “M’sakhen”.  Sumac is also part of the za’atar, another ingredient in today’s recipe.

The “za’atar” in English means thyme, but the Za’atar “ME blend” varies from region to region, and each family has its own recipe. It is broadly composed of thyme, oregano, sumac, sesame seeds, cumin and coriander.

Definitely one to try, easy quick marinade takes only 10 minutes.  You know the famous phrase “to try it is to adopt it” well don’t be surprised if you become addicted to this dish. 

Et maintenant place à la recette.

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Lemon chicken with Za’atar

  • Prep time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Total time: 3 hours
  • Serves: 4 people

Normally chicken can be boring but the spices and the marinate in this recipe took it to a phenomenal level.
You will find below the ingredients, method as well as tricks and tips to make this wonderful dish with the flavours of Palestine.



  • 2 lemons , sliced 1/2 cm-thick
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1,3 kg chicken , whole or segmented into legs, thighs and breast (or 1kg chicken legs or supremes skin on)
  • 260 g onions, peeled, sliced in half, then each half cut into 3 wedges
  • 2 heads of garlic, skin on sliced in half
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 3/4 tsp allspice , ground
  • 2 Tbsp Za’atar
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, (2 for the marinade and 1 to drizzle before baking)
  • 200 ml chicken stock, (or water)
  • Salt & pepper

To serve

  • 5 g parsley , finely chopped
  • 30 g flaked almonds, toasted
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Za’atar


  • 1)

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the marinade ingredients. Place the chicken in a deep dish, sprinkle  with salt and a good grind of black pepper, add the marinade. Mix well to combine, then cover with cling and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.

    Take the chicken out of the fridge, half an hour or hour before baking, it should be at room temperature before going to the oven.



  • 2)

    Preheat the oven to 200C.
    Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a large baking tray, to accommodate all the chicken pieces lying flat and spaced well appart, skin side up. Pour over all the marinade and lemons slices. . Drizzle the chicken with a Tbsp of olive oil and bake for 45 minutes, giving everything a bit of a stir  halfway through, until the chicken is golden and cooked. 


  • 3)

    Transfer to a serving platter allong with the lemons slices and any juices that have collected at the bottom of the tray.
    Towards the end of the cooking time for the chicken, in a bowl combine the parsley, lemon zest, the remaining 2 Tbsp of Za’atar and the remaining 3 Tbsp of olive oil. Spoon this over the chicken, finish with the almonds and serve.


    Enjoy !

Tips & tricks :

  • Marinate the chicken at least 2 hours but overnight will be perfect
  • Take the chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes or 1 hour before baking, it should be at room temperature before going to the oven
  • We  tend to start with a whole chicken so the chicken stock can be made from carcass, but it’s absolutely fine to start with any other pieces. Personally i advice you to choose the thighs or the chicken drumsticks because these pieces are juicy and tender.


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