Neil Perry's spice-roasted chicken Photo: William Meppem
This is a lovely, simple Middle Eastern-inspired dish that, with the addition of a few spices, becomes really tasty. It's important to keep your spices fresh. Make sure you order small amounts as they tire when old and the flavour isn't great. If you really want to go the extra mile, buy whole spices, roast to release the volatile oils and grind in a spice grinder to add wonderful fragrance to any dish.
I also like to add tea-plumped raisins to the eggplant; this gives it a wonderful sweetness and works well with the pinenuts and yoghurt. The chicken is also great with a teaspoon of mild chilli flakes added to the mix.
Spice roasted chicken
1½ tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp sumac
1 tsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 lemon, thinly sliced
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 x 600g crown breast of chicken, skin on
¾ cup fresh chicken stock
2 tbsp zaatar
4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1. Mix the spices, salt, pepper and lemon slices with the oil in a bowl. Coat the chicken in the marinade and leave the breast, skin side down, in the bowl for a few hours or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 200C. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator one hour before cooking. Place the chicken in a deep roasting dish, skin side up, with the lemon slices and stock. Sprinkle the zaatar over the chicken and roast until the meat is tender and the skin is golden, about 25 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven and allow to rest somewhere warm. Carefully cut the four chicken breasts away from the bone frames. Strain pan juices and reduce slightly.
4. Garnish chicken with chopped parsley and serve with roasting juices.