Skill level Mid
2 large loaves pitta bread
¼ cup peanut oil
3 cups full-fat yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, mashed
10 garlic cloves, mashed
1 whole chicken (1 kg)
salt and pepper
2 tbsp peanut oil
3 lemons, juiced
3 tbsp clarified butter
2 cups short–grain rice, presoaked, drained
½ tsp turmeric
4 cups water
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
¼ cup toasted pistachios
¼ cup toasted almonds
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Split the pitta loaves and cut into bite-size 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 yoghurt and mashed garlic and salt to make a sauce and put aside.
Take the 10 cloves of mashed garlic and rub all over the chicken, getting 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 2 cm. Allow to come to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and leave to cook undisturbed until the liquid is absorbed. Leave covered until ready to serve.
To assemble the fatteh d’jaj, place some of the croutons in a serving platter, followed by a layer of the hot rice. Mound the chicken with its lemony sauce on top. Drizzle the yoghurt sauce over everything and garnish with the toasted nuts. Serve immediately.
Recipe from Modern Flavours of Arabia by Suzanne Hussein. Published by Hardie Grant Books.