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Roasted Moroccan Chicken with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce
Growing up Pittsburgh, there was a fabulous Syrian restaurant called Ali Baba. In all my years since, I have yet to find another middle eastern place that has both the breadth and quality of the menu at Ali Baba. Due in large part for my love of middle eastern cuisine, and my inability to satisfy my palette, I learned to make it myself.
This particular recipe is inspired by the flavors of Morocco. Although you can make the chicken by itself, it is intended to be paired with the traditional yogurt and tahini sauce included below. This dish is especially great when you turn up the spiciness of the chicken because the cooling contrast of the yorgurt-tahini sauce is fabulous.
To Make the Chicken
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of hot paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon of sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
- pinch of cayenne
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 4 boneless chicken breasts
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the paprikas, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the chicken in the bowl and toss to spice.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Brown the chicken for 2-3 minutes per side.
- Pour the excess oil from the skillet and place in the oven. Cook for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
- Serve with the yogurt-tahini sauce (below)
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- kosher salt
- white pepper
- pinch of cayenne (optional)
- Mix the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, cilantro, garlic, and honey together in a bowl. Season with salt, white pepper, and cayenne to taste.
- Serve immediately at room temperature.
How Not to Screw It Up
- Do not cook this chicken one minute more or one minute less. Too long and it's way too dry. Not long enough, well….you know.
- Make sure you evenly distribute the spices around the chicken. I use a teaspoon when I toss the chicken to scoop up oil-spice mixture and to spread it around with the back of the spoon.
- Alternatively, you can use bone-in chicken for this recipe. The only change would be to cook it in the oven for 25 minutes instead of 15.
- Do not use black pepper in the yogurt-tahini sauce. You must use white. Black pepper will make this sauce look like it has specs of dirt. It's kind of unappetizing (or it looks like oreo cookie ice cream, which is unappetizing on top of chicken).