Baharat is a warm spice blend known as the Middle Eastern equivalent of India’s garam masala. It is used extensively as a dry rub in all meats and fish, a vegetable topping or in curries and tajines. In Arabic, Baharat means spices, and although the blend varies from region to region, it usually contains the same ingredients of cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon and paprika.

Having a large jar of homemade Baharat handy makes this recipe easy to prepare. If you like to make a larger quantity, multiply the recipe below by 5.

After experimenting with Baharat in various recipes, I was pleased it worked perfectly in my own rice and chicken recipe. The best way to describe this dish is to imagine it as a Middle Eastern paella.

The spice paste is quite aromatic and strong, so if you are a beginner to spiced meals, perhaps lessen the spice quantity by a half and gradually build up more heat at the next meal.

Once the chicken has marinated in the Baharat spice blend and oil for several hours, this rice dish is prepared on the stove in under 40 minutes or even faster if you use white rice.

I chose par-boiled brown rice as it cooks faster and adds a nice wholesome touch to the dish. Using long-grain brown rice takes the longest to cook, but if you want super quick rice, use par-boiled white rice.

If you rather leave out the rice and just enjoy the chicken, simply grill the chicken pieces on a hot skillet or roast it for 20 mins in a hot oven. Sprinkle with coriander and lemon juice. Serve it with a fresh garden salad and some Baharat spiced yoghurt on the side.

Baharat Chicken with Vegetable Lemon Rice

Ingredients:

For the Baharat spice seasoning:

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • ½ tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika (not smoked)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder or 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom powder or 8 green cardamom pods*
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder or 1 dried chilli (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt

* Remove and keep the seeds from the pods after roasting and discard the pods before grinding.

For the Baharat chicken with vegetable lemon rice:

  • 6 chicken thigh fillets, skin and bone removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil for the marinade
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped coarsely
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 150g white or brown mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1 -2 fresh or pickled green chilli (optional)
  • A sliver of lemon peel
  • 250g brown or white long-grain or par-boiled rice, rinsed & drained
  • 50g whole roasted almonds, halved
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 400ml store-bought or homemade chicken stock
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • Lemon wedges, to serve
  • Greek yoghurt mixed with some Baharat spice, to serve
  • Store-bought harissa chilli paste, to serve
Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Fry the black peppercorns, cumin & coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and cloves in a dry pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until the aroma is released and the seeds start to pop. Stir constantly.

2. Allow the spices to cool. Grind the spices with the remaining spice seasoning ingredients in a food processor or take the time to crush them slowly in a mortal and pestle.

3. Add the Baharat spice to the chicken followed by the olive oil to create a paste and mix well.

4. Allow to marinate, covered in the fridge for at least 1 hour in a glass or ceramic bowl.

5. Remove the chicken from the fridge and add the lemon juice to the chicken and stir it into the paste. Set aside to come to room temperature for 20 minutes.

6. Heat a medium, deep, frying pan or wok (that has a matching lid) over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

7. Sear the chicken for 2 minutes on each side and set aside on a plate covered with some foil. Do not overcook the chicken, the idea is just to sear the outside of the chicken. The inside will be cooked later with the rice.

8. Fry the onions for 2 minutes, stirring.

9. Add the mushrooms, green chilli, garlic and lemon peel, fry for 5 minutes. Set aside on a separate plate.

10. Add the rice to the pan and stir well for 2 minutes.

11. Add the almonds.

12. Add the tomato puree, lemon juice and stock, lower the heat to medium-low.

13. Mix in the mushroom mixture.

14. Top the rice with the seared chicken and any chicken juices, simmer on medium-low for 15 minutes (for par-boiled white rice), 25 minutes (for long-grain white rice), 20 mins (for par-boiled brown rice) and 35-40 minutes (for long-grain brown rice) with the lid on.

15. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, check to see if any more liquid is needed and taste the rice to see if it is starting to soften.

16. Once the rice is cooked, remove the lid and sprinkle fresh coriander leaves and squeeze some lemon over the rice and chicken. Remove and discard the lemon peel.

17. Serve with cucumber slices & Baharat spiced yoghurt, fresh tomato segments, lemon wedges and stir-fried green peppers (Fried Pimientos de Padron goes well with this dish) and some harissa chilli paste.

  • 5 servings
  • Keeps for 2 days chilled
  • Suitable to freeze

If preferred, once the Baharat chicken is cooked, slice the chicken and return the slices back to the rice.

Using par-boiled white (15 mins or less) or par-boiled brown rice (20 mins) speeds up the cooking time.