Middle Eastern Roast Chicken

It’s a little presumptuous of me to call this Middle Eastern chicken when I have no idea how Middle Easterners cook their chicken at all. Right? I took the liberty to name it such because 2 years ago, I found a recipe for some spice blend that was labelled Middle Eastern Spice. I followed the recipe and made a few jars of the spice blend for my family and every one of them loved it! (speaking of which, it’s time to make more.)

So for this recipe, while I didn’t follow that original recipe verbatim, I used pretty much the same spices and dunked rough amounts as per my taste and liking. And yes, I really liked the result! It’s interesting that Asians, Middle Easterners, Indians, Africans and so many other countries base their food around roughly the same sort of spices. I’m not speaking dogmatically but rather via my personal experience and observation. And this gets me excited because using that same few spices, I can experience tastes and flavours of so many different countries around the world! It’s amazing how different spice ratios change the flavours of food.


So getting down to this roast chicken dish, I started by gathering the cast of characters:
Whole Chicken, Russet Potato, Sweet Potato, Garlic, Onion, Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Ground Ginger, Ground Coriander, Cumin Seeds, Ground Black Pepper & Sesame SeedsMiddle Eastern Roast Chicken 1

The spice mix is pretty brilliant.Middle Eastern Roast Chicken 2

Mix together in a bowl to form a dry rub. I almost always prefer dry rubs for roasting.Middle Eastern Roast Chicken 3

So to prepare the chicken this time and to speed up the cooking time, I decided to butterfly or spatchcock my medium sized, air-chilled chicken. Step 1: Look for the backbone.Middle Eastern Roast Chicken 5

Step 2: Use a pair of strong kitchen scissors to cut out the said backbone.Middle Eastern Roast Chicken 6

Step 3: Turn the chicken over and use the ball of your palm to press down firmly. This is to crack some rib bones and flatten the chicken out.Middle Eastern Roast Chicken 7

If you press hard enough (don’t be afraid!), you’ll end up with a flattened spatchcocked chicken that cooks in a shorter amount of time and has way more surface area for the spice mix to get into.Middle Eastern Roast Chicken 8

I’d recommend seasoning the bottom before flipping it over into the roasting dish and seasoning the skin part. I know I’m stating the obvious but I made the mistake of seasoning the top first more times than I care to remember. Then realize that the spice has fallen off the skin when I flip it over to season the underside. And not have any spice left to top up. Yeah… learn from my silly d’oh moments.Middle Eastern Roast Chicken 9

And the after picture looks like this.
Middle Eastern Roast Chicken 11

I served it with some boiled broccoli. You can totally just serve the chicken like this for your family or friends to tear into, family style.Middle Eastern Roast Chicken 12

Or if there’s less than a dozen people around the table, in our case just 2 of us, I’d recommend using a cleaver or kitchen scissors to portion this out so the untouched pieces can be saved for future meals.Middle Eastern Roast Chicken 13

If you excuse the mess I created while cutting this up, you can see how juicy the meat still is because the chicken is not overcooked due to the shorter cooking time. Very often, the breast meat gets drier because it has to sit there waiting for the thighs to be ready. But now, both parts are cooked at roughly the same time and hence locks in the valuable juices.

If you haven’t spatchcocked a chicken before, I recommend that you try it out! It’s both pretty and makes cooking so much easier. 😉


“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” (Acts 17:29)

Line divider

Middle Eastern Roast Chicken
serves 6-8


1 (±1.7 kg or±4 lbs) air-chilled Chicken, spatchedcocked (directions above)
1 Russet Potato, cut into wedges or chunks
1 yellow Sweet Potato, peeled & cut into chunks (same size as potatoes)
1 Yellow Onion, peeled & thickly sliced
2 bulbs Garlic, bottoms lobed off
3 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Salt, separated use
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp ground Ginger
1 tsp ground Coriander
1/2 tbsp raw Sesame Seeds

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C or 400 F.
  2. In a large roasting pan or glass bakeware (I used a 9 x 13 Pyrex), toss potatoes, onion and garlic in olive oil & 1 tbsp salt. Arrange so that potatoes are at the edges of the pan & onions are laid out at the centre for the chicken to sit on.
  3. Mix up spices & sesame seeds in a bowl together with the remaining 1 tsp salt. Scatter 1/2 of the spice blend on the underside (flesh side) of the chicken. Turn the chicken skin side up and place on onion slices in the pan. Scatter the remaining spice blend evenly on the skin.
  4. Roast chicken for 40 mins or until potatoes are tender, chicken is golden brown & juices run clear when pricked near the thighs.
  5. Serve whole with boiled vegetables or cut into smaller pieces.
  6. Reserve juices, skimming off fat, to serve alongside chicken as sauce.


  1. How lovely. I love all the spices and flavor in your Middle Eastern Roast Chicken. 🙂 Great trick to butterfly the chicken to speed up the cooking process. I usually just separate them into individual pieces or simply cook it whole. I’ve gotta try your method.

    • Fragrant spices are just lovely additions to any meat dish, methinks. 🙂 I also tend to just use chicken drumstick or thighs but butterflying a whole chicken makes it look prettier, to me. Also, I’d think it’d go well on the BBQ grill during this warm summer season!

  2. What a delicious dish, it would have been amazing to be in your kitchen whilst this was cooking! Thanks for sharing.


  1. […] actually had a roast chicken recipe to share today but I decided to push it up to next week because I think this recipe would be […]

  2. […] Wanna know how to spatchcock or butterfly your chicken? Check it out here. […]

  3. […] I was rubbing the herb mix with plenty of salt all over the butterflied chicken, the floral fragrance permeated the entire kitchen. It’s very […]

Tell me more!