Recipe & pairing | Joseph Abboud's (Rumi) Tahini Chicken

Vinomofo
By Vinomofo
23 days ago
7 min read

Joseph Abboud’s "Rumi: Recipes of a Middle Eastern Appearance" is out now, filled cover-to-cover with recipes that are firm favourites of the locals at this Brunswick East institution. A little bit Lebanese, a little bit Persian, a whole lot of yum - this recipe for tahini chicken immediately caught our attention. And got us thinking about which wine to have with it, naturally.

Pairing tip: "Oh man, what a dish. Where to start? For me, we’re in white wine territory, though only just…and with the earthy spicy of the Baharat and savoury richness of the Taratoor I’m 100% opting for a wine with a bit of texture and body. Enter - Margaret River chardonnay. Nutty, textural, but with enough freshness and warm fruits to compliment this perfectly. Oaked chardys from other climes would work just as well - and an aged sem could also do wonders here, or a riesling that’s seen some time in bottle too." - Nick

Try this with:

Byron & Harold Gravity Black Chardonnay 2023

This is smack dab in the middle of what classic margs chardy should look like. Perfect varietal and regional expression. A little rich and a little creamy. A powerful citrus core framed by riper tropical nuance. This is the Margaret River chardy we've been hangin' out for. 

Chardonnay 2017 – Black Market Deal #48523

A new-to-us chardonnay from the cellar. This ticks all the Margs chardy boxes; it's nutty, creamy, a little woody and a lot citrusy. Tropical fruit richness gives the wine a bit of palate breadth, and classic varietal acidity gives it line drive. Delicious stuff.


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Tahini chicken

This is a dish that I can’t believe is not more commonplace. It is basically a chicken version of the classic Lebanese baked fish dish, samke harra. In this recipe the chicken is smothered in Taratoor and finished with various nuts, parsley and chilli. This version is made with roasted chicken, but you could steam, bake or poach the chicken, too.

Serves 4–8

Ingredients

  • 1 × free-range chicken

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon Baharat (see below)

  • 1 × quantity Taratoor (see below)

  • 50 g (1 3⁄4 oz) fried almonds (see below)

  • 1 tablespoon fried pine nuts (see below)

  • 50 g (1 3⁄4 oz) walnuts, chopped 

  • 1⁄2 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, shredded

  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac

  • 1 teaspoon Turkish chilli powder

Remove the chicken from the fridge about 20 minutes before you want to cook it and preheat your oven to 220°C (425°F). 

Rub the vegetable oil all over the chicken then season with the salt and baharat. Place in a roasting tin and cook for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. To check that your chicken is cooked, pierce the thigh with a knife – the juices should be clear. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 20 minutes before carving. Lower the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F). 

Take the bird apart by removing the legs and cutting them into thighs and drumsticks. Remove the breasts from the bone and cut each breast into two or three pieces. Pick the rest of the meat off the carcass and add to the pile of chicken pieces. 

Drain the fat and excess juices out of the tray and set aside (see Note). Place the cut chicken in the tray and pour the taratoor over it. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Serve on your platter of choice topped with the mixed nuts, parsley, sumac and Turkish chilli.

Note

After draining most of the fat away from the juices (and discarding it), you could warm the remaining pan juices and drizzle over the chicken before serving.

As with the fish in the tahini brandade recipe, the leftovers can be shredded and served with crispy bread or used to make an excellent sandwich filling.


Baharat

This is a very simple soft spice house mix that can be used to enhance literally anything from barbecue to tabbouleh.

Makes 65 g (21⁄2 oz) 

Ingredients

  • 20 g (3⁄4 oz) ground cinnamon

  • 10 g (1⁄4 oz) ground allspice

  • 15 g (1⁄2 oz) ground nutmeg

  • 5 g (1⁄8 oz) ground cloves

  • 15 g (1⁄2 oz) ground black peppercorns

Mix all the ingredients well and store in an airtight jar or container for 3–6 months


Taratoor

Tahini sauce, correctly called ‘taratoor’, is a versatile sauce that is traditionally used on anything from falafel to baked fish. I find myself reaching for it time and time again when looking for a creamy addition to many dishes, especially if they are vegan. We often have guests double-checking that the dishes with tahini in them are, in fact, vegan due to the richness that comes from the taratoor.

Makes 400 ml (14 fl oz)

Ingredients

  • 80 ml (1⁄3 cup) lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons verjuice

  • 10 g (1⁄4 oz) garlic, crushed to a fine paste, or 15 g (1⁄2 oz) Toum

  • 8 g (1⁄4 oz) salt

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 200 g (7 oz) tahini

Place all the ingredients in a jar or container, in the order in which they’re listed, with 150 ml (5 fl oz) water. Seal with a tight-fitting lid and shake, shake, shake!

The sauce may be very thick depending on the tahini, but it can be easily adjusted with a touch of water. You want it to be the consistency of single (pure) cream. This sauce will also thicken after refrigeration. Just add a little water to adjust the consistency. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


Fried Flaked Almonds

Makes 95 g (1 cup)

Ingredients

  • 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable oil, for deep-frying

  • 95 g (1 cup) flaked almonds

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium–high heat. You’ll know it’s hot enough when a couple of almonds dropped into the oil sizzle gently. Place the rest of the almonds into the hot oil. 

This will temporarily reduce the temperature of the oil, but stir occasionally and the temperature will come back up and the almonds will start to sizzle. Turn the heat down to low and stir more frequently until the nuts are light brown. 

Because the nuts will continue to cook even after you take them out of the oil, quickly drain them in a strainer, allowing any excess oil to drain away. They will smell fantastic but don’t be tempted to taste them straight away, as they will be VERY hot. 

Spread the nuts on a plate or tray lined with paper towel and allow to cool before storing in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 months.


Fried pine nuts 

Makes 95 g (1 cup)

Ingredients

  • 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable oil, for deep-frying

  • 95 g (1 cup) pine nuts

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium–high heat. You’ll know it’s hot enough when a couple of pine nuts dropped into the oil sizzle gently. Place the rest of the pine nuts into the hot oil. 

This will temporarily reduce the temperature of the oil, but stir occasionally and the temperature will come back up and the almonds will start to sizzle. Turn the heat down to low and stir more frequently until the nuts are light brown. 

Because the nuts will continue to cook even after you take them out of the oil, quickly drain them in a strainer, allowing any excess oil to drain away. They will smell fantastic but don’t be tempted to taste them straight away, as they will be VERY hot. 

Spread the nuts on a plate or tray lined with paper towel and allow to cool before storing in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 months.


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Images and text from Rumi by Joseph Abboud, photography by Armelle Habib. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.

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