A quick and easy chicken supper with Middle Eastern flavours

Try this delicious Za’atar and sesame seed chicken for your next midweek meal.

  • SERVES: 4
  • PREP TIME: 5 mins
  • COOK TIME:  60 mins
  • DIFFICULTY: easy

Za’atar and sesame seed chicken

This is a lovely midweek meal from Nigel Slater.

And it’s a healthy dish served with chickpeas and garlic yoghurt.

Plus, nice and easy but with the fab flavours using the Middle Eastern spice, Za’atar.

What is Za’atar spice

It’s found a lot of Lebanese dishes and other Middle Eastern countries.

Za’atar adds a nice lemony, herbaceous, earthy, nutty and floral vibe to dishes.

Which comes from the blend of dried toasted thyme, marjoram, oregano, sesame seeds and sumac which make up Za’atar spice.

So, with all these lovely spices, za’atar is a versatile spice to have in your stores.

Delicious za’atar and sesame seed chicken with chickpeas

7 more ideas on how to use za’atar

Firstly, make sure you try this za’atar and sesame seed chicken.

Then the world of the za’atar spice can be opened up for loads of great dishes.

  1. Make za’atar bread (aka manakeesh bi zaatar). Mix with olive oil and baked atop bread, and serve alongside labneh, olives, and cucumber.
  2. Mixed with olive oil or hummus to make a dip for bread such as flatbread, pita, and naan.
  3. A seasoning for meats – from beef to seafood, but is especially popular with chicken.
  4. Za’atar can also be sprinkled on poached or fried eggs, or on shakshuka
  5. Tossed with vegetables or roasted chickpeas.
  6. Za’atar bread can be served with hummus or just topped with fresh tomatoes, yoghurt and mint leaves.
  7. Salad dressing. Combined with olive oil and a dash of lemon juice, za’atar seasoning makes a great dressing for any salad greens.

Where to find za’atar

You should be able to find it easily in a large supermarket.

But otherwise, it’s easy enough to find online.

However, don’t fret if you can’t find it, there are some ways around it.

Homemade Za’atar

In a small bowl, combine:

  • ½ cup ground thyme
  • ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried sumac (if you don’t have access to dried sumac, you can use a mixture of citric acid powder and dried lemon zest)
  • a pinch of black pepper (optional).

Mix well, and adjust proportions to your taste.

The store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

It can keep for several months.

Substitutes for za’atar

Ground thyme is the most common substitution for za’atar.

But there are variations on the recipe so do equal-parts mixtures of any number of herbs:

  • thyme,
  • oregano,
  • marjoram,
  • cumin, or coriander.

Za’atar and sesame seed chicken

Course Main Course
Keyword chicken, chicken recipes, family meals, Middle Eastern recipes, midweek meal, za’atar, za’atar chicken
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4 people
Cost £


  • 3 tbsp za’atar
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 x 400 g tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 250 ml thick plain yoghurt
  • 20 mint leaves


  • Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan.
  • Mix the za’atar with the oil in a small bowl.
  • In a deep roasting tray, add the chicken and brush with the za’atar and oil mix then scatter sesame seeds over top.
    Lastly, add the chickpeas and garlic and bake for 30–40 mins.
    After 30 – 40 mins, take the garlic out of the roasting tray and set it aside.
    Now, brush the chicken with the za’atar oil at the bottom of the roasting tray.
    Return the chicken to the oven for a further 15–20 mins.
  • In a pestle and mortar, pound the garlic into a paste, then scrape it into a bowl and mix in the yoghurt.
    Serve on chickpeas, with the garlic yoghurt and mint leaves scattered on top.


Recipe: Nigel Slater – BBC GoodFood