There are few things in life that make me feel more smug and self-satisfied than calmly sitting with a glass of wine, in a spanking-clean kitchen, dishes done, with the smell of something fantastic and slow-roasting emanating from the oven. Such feelings are evoked by this spiced roast chicken. In fact, once you have gotten the chicken into marinade, your work is basically done, which means that you can probably squeeze in two self-congratulatory glasses of wine.
If you can bring yourself to dirty a small bowl, the tangy, herbal yogurt is the perfect foil to the rich, spicy chicken and its deliciously crispy skin. Za’atar is a blend of thyme, oregano and sesame seeds that you can buy in some supermarkets or here. Or you can make your own, if you feel so inclined.
Eat this chicken with a salad, with rice, or with cous cous. If you have leftovers, you can strip the meat off of the bones and stuff it into a pita topped with yogurt and chile sauce—you’ll be in such a happy place. —BurntCream
Test Kitchen Notes
This is one of those dishes that can be easily prepped before you leave for work and baked when you get home—something you’d be happy to serve to your guests. It's a very tasty meal with ingredients that, aside from the za'atar, you're likely to already have in your kitchen. A quickly prepared marinade adds a fresh, bright note to the dish, which is magnified by cooking the chicken pieces atop sliced onions. But the tangy yogurt sauce with za’atar really makes the dish shine! Be sure to have some pita bread on hand to soak up the good chicken juices and sauce. —Auntie Allyn
For the roast chicken:
chicken leg quarters, divided into thighs and drumsticks
Coarsely smash the coriander and cumin seeds with a mortar and pestle or with the flat side of a chef's knife.
In a large bowl, combine the chicken, spices, salt, oil, and water, and mix well so that the chicken is evenly coated. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, and as long as overnight.
When you’re ready to cook, heat your oven to 375° F (190° C). Spread the onions out on a roasting pan and place the chicken, skin-side up so that it crisps nicely, on top so that the meat is protected from sticking to the bottom. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the meat is pierced.
Sprinkle with chopped spring onions and cilantro.
In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, za’atar, and olive oil, and spoon it over the chicken as desired to serve.