Za'atar Fried Chicken
I can remember my love for garlic, or “toum,” since I was a little kid. I recall secret midnight snacks of Arabic bread generously smothered with the garlic sauce. This practice continues today, at which point my husband tends to disappear…This garlic sauce is probably like none other you’ve tasted before (unless you’ve eaten a whole clove of garlic in raw form and in one go). It’s best eaten with chicken. Don’t use olive oil, as it tends to give a bitter taste and discoloration. You can leave the chicken to marinate overnight, if preferred. We mainly eat garlic sauce with grilled chicken, in chicken shawarma sandwiches or thick slices of heirloom tomatoes.
- For the chicken:
- 1 egg
- 125ml/4fl oz/1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp za’atar
- 2 tsp sumac
- 11/2 tsp sea salt
- 115g/4oz/scant 1 cup plain flour
- 80g/23/4oz/11/3 cups panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ tsp allspice
- 4 chicken legs, skin on
- For the garlic sauce:
- 1 garlic bulb, separated and crushed
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 egg white
- about 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- To make the chicken, put the egg, yogurt, chopped garlic, za’atar, sumac and ½ teaspoon of the salt in a mixing bowl and mix well.
- Put the flour, breadcrumbs, remaining salt and the allspice into a large zippable plastic bag, seal and shake to combine.
- Toss the chicken legs in the yogurt mixture, making sure all the pieces are well covered, then add to the flour bag and shake well, so that all the pieces are well coated with the crumb mixture. Transfer the coated chicken pieces to a plate, cover and set aside in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the garlic sauce. Either pound the garlic cloves and the remaining salt to form a thin paste, using a mortar and pestle, or whizz the garlic and salt in a small food processor. Add the lemon juice and pound or whizz again until the mixture forms a thin paste. Add the egg white and keep mixing until the sauce is bubbly and smooth. Trickle the oil in, about a teaspoon at a time, every 30 seconds or so for about 2 minutes or until you’ve reached soft peaks.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge and repeat step 3.
- Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a pan, and when the temperature reaches 170ºC/325ºF, carefully add the chicken legs, being sure not to overcrowd, and cook for a total of 10–15 minutes (turning over if they look to be browning unevenly) until golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 180ºC/350ºF.