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Middle Eastern Garlic Roasted Chicken with Green Harissa and Flatbread

Journey to the Middle East with chicken seasoned with exotic spices. Rach prepares a spice blend that can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Serve with buttered grilled naan.


  • 2 heads roasted garlic
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened, plus some melted for serving
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil ( EVOO)
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 fresh chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 whole chicken (4-5 pounds), spatchcocked (butterflied open with backbone removed; ask your butcher to do this for you)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Za’atar Spice Blend, recipe follows
  • Naan bread, pocketless pita or other flatbread, for serving
  • Green Harissa, recipe follows

Za’atar Spice Blend:

  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground sumac
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

Green Harissa:

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup EVOO
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 serrano or jalapeño chili peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, made into a paste
  • 1 small bunch spinach from the farmer”s market, stemmed and chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


Cook’s Note: To roast garlic, cut off the top third of each garlic head, drizzle with EVOO and wrap in foil. Roast in a 400°F oven until tender.

Squeeze the roasted garlic from the skins and combine with the softened butter, EVOO, rosemary, chili pepper and lemon zest. Loosen the skin all over the chicken, then rub the garlic mixture onto the meat under the skin. Sprinkle the skin with salt and pepper. Put the chicken in a baking dish, cover and let stand for 1 hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 325°F.

Sprinkle the chicken with two-thirds of the Za’atar Spice Blend and roast for 1 hour 15 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to 500°F and roast for 15 minutes more to crisp the skin. Let the chicken rest until cooled, then cut it into quarters.

Meanwhile, heat a griddle or grill pan and grill the naan until warm. Brush with melted butter and cut in half.

Divide the chicken quarters among plates and sprinkle with the remaining Za’atar Spice Blend and the lemon juice. Serve with the naan and Green Harissa.

Combine the sesame seeds, sumac, thyme, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Puree the cilantro, EVOO, cumin, chili peppers, garlic, spinach and lemon juice in a food processor until fairly smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate or serve immediately.

Cook’s Note: The spice blend is great on chicken, beef, lamb, eggplant and anything grilled. You can make extra and store it for weeks. Sumac is available in larger markets and Middle Eastern markets.

Rachael Ray