Chicken Fatteh

A feast with lots of elements, textures and temperatures. Layer the components judiciously, each needs wise seasoning. And be generous with the herbs, to make it sing. Finish with pomegranate seeds and pistachios.

SERVES 8–10

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 x 400g cans of tomatoes
  • ½ tsp soft light brown sugar

FOR THE CHICKEN

  • 1.8kg (4lb) chicken
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves

FOR THE RICE

  • 300g (10½oz) basmati rice
  • 25g (scant 1oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 500ml (18fl oz) chicken stock

FOR THE REST

  • 2 pitta breads
  • 25g (1oz) butter, melted
  • 8 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 aubergines, in 3cm/1¼in cubes
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • squeezes of lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) Greek yogurt
  • large handfuls of chopped parsley and coriander leaves
  • 50g (1¾oz) pine nuts, toasted

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. For the sauce, heat the oil and cook the onion until soft and pale gold. Add the garlic and cinnamon and cook for two minutes. Add the tomatoes, seasoning, sugar and 100ml (3½fl oz) of water. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Heat the pittas in the oven for a couple of minutes, then split and brush with melted butter. Cut in triangles and bake for 10 minutes, until crisp.
  • Put the chicken in a roasting tin and rub the oil over it, season and massage with the spices. Roast for 1 hour 15 minutes, basting. It is ready when the juices between the leg and body run clear with no trace of pink. Transfer to a dish to rest for 15 minutes, covered with foil. Put the tin over a medium heat, add 200ml (7fl oz) of water and bring to a simmer, scraping up any bits. Cook until you have about 100ml (3½fl oz) of liquid left.
  • Wash the rice well. Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan and fry the onion for 12 minutes, until golden, stirring now and then. Add the spices and cook for two minutes. Set aside. When the chicken is cooler, tear the meat into pieces. Keep warm.
  • Heat 4 tbsp of olive oil over a medium-high heat, add half the aubergines and fry until soft and golden. Add half the spices, season well and squeeze on lemon juice. Keep warm. Repeat.
  • About 30 minutes before eating, add the rice to the onions. Add the stock and boil hard until the surface of the rice looks pitted. Reduce the heat to its lowest, cover and cook for 17 minutes. Don’t stir it but do check to make sure it isn’t sticking.
  • Now layer the components in a large dish. Everything should be hot apart from the bread and yogurt, so reheat the sauce. Stir the garlic into the yogurt. Squeeze lemon juice on the layers as you go and sprinkle most of the herbs on too. Start with pitta, then rice, then chicken – seasoned and mixed with 5 tbsp of its gravy – then aubergine, tomato sauce and yogurt. Scatter with more herbs, the pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and pistachios with a drizzle more yogurt (serve the rest on the side).




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