Arabic Chicken Dishes

Arabic Chicken Dishes – A Culinary Journey Through the Middle East

Arabic cuisine is a treasure trove of rich, aromatic flavours, with a wide range of dishes that showcase the region’s incredible culinary diversity. One area where this cuisine truly excels is in its mouthwatering selection of chicken dishes. 

These recipes boast a beautiful fusion of textures, colours, and spices that have been passed down through generations, owing to their unique blend of ingredients and cooking methods to the influence of multiple cultures.

As you delve into the world of Arabic chicken dishes, prepare to be captivated by the enticing aromas and tastes that fill the air. 

Laden with fragrant spices, such as cumin, coriander, and cinnamon, these dishes display a distinct and wonderful harmony of flavours that are characteristic of Arabic cuisine. To enhance your culinary experience even further, these dishes often incorporate succulent chicken, juicy vegetables, and fluffy grains, making them a true feast for the senses.

With such a vast array of delightful dishes, from the indulgent layered Fattet Djaj platter to the comforting warmth of Kabsa, the national dish of Saudi Arabia, you’ll find plenty to choose from when exploring the wonders of Arabic chicken recipes. 

So, prepare to immerse yourself in the rich culture and history that has given rise to these delectable dishes, and enjoy the culinary adventure that lies ahead.

Basic Ingredients for Arabic Chicken Dishes

When preparing Arabic chicken dishes, you will find a variety of spices and herbs that contribute to their distinct and flavourful profiles. Here are some common spices and herbs used in Arabic cuisine:

  • Cumin: Widely used in Middle Eastern cooking, cumin provides a warm, earthy flavour to dishes.
  • Coriander: Fresh coriander leaves (also known as cilantro) and coriander seeds are both used in Arabic recipes, providing a fresh and slightly citrusy taste.
  • Cardamom: This aromatic spice has a strong, sweet flavour that adds depth to Arabic chicken dishes.
  • Cinnamon: Known for its sweet and warming properties, cinnamon is prevalent in many Middle Eastern recipes.
  • Paprika: This spice adds a mild, sweet pepperiness to dishes.
  • Turmeric: An essential spice in many Arabic dishes, turmeric adds a vibrant yellow colour and earthy, warming flavour.
  • Saffron: Often used in rice dishes, saffron adds a unique, subtle taste and a golden hue.

In addition to these spices, several other basic ingredients are key to crafting delicious Arabic chicken dishes:

  • Chicken: Choose bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or breasts for the most flavourful results. You can also use boneless, skinless cuts if you prefer a leaner option.
  • Rice: Long-grain basmati rice is commonly used in Arabic recipes due to its fragrant aroma and fluffy texture. Feel free to substitute with other long-grain rice varieties if necessary.
  • Onions and garlic: These aromatic vegetables form the base of many Arabic chicken dishes and provide a robust flavour foundation.
  • Tomatoes: Fresh, ripe tomatoes are often used in Arabic recipes, lending sweetness and acidity.
  • Lemon: Fresh lemon juice adds a tangy, zesty note to a variety of Arabic chicken dishes.
  • Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is a staple ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking and is used for both cooking and drizzling over finished dishes.

By stocking your kitchen with these essential ingredients, you will be well-prepared to create delicious Arabic chicken dishes. Experiment with different combinations of spices, herbs, and other ingredients to craft unique flavours and textures that suit your taste buds.

Common Arabic Chicken Dishes

In this section, we will focus on three popular Arabic chicken dishes: Shish Taouk, Mandi, and Musakhan.

Shish Taouk

Shish Taouk is a flavourful grilled chicken dish that is a favourite in many Middle Eastern countries. This dish consists of marinated chicken cubes that are skewered and grilled, resulting in tender and juicy meat with a slightly smoky flavour. 

The marinade typically includes yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic, and a blend of spices such as paprika, cumin, and coriander. Shish Taouk is commonly served with pita bread, rice, or salad, which you can use to enjoy this succulent dish.


Mandi is a flavourful Arabic dish that originates from Yemen but has gained popularity across the Arabian Peninsula. The dish is known for its unique cooking technique, which involves slow-cooking meat and rice in a tandoor oven. 

The chicken in Mandi is marinated with a mix of spices, such as coriander, cumin, and turmeric, before being placed on top of the rice to cook. The resulting dish is a delicious combination of tender chicken, aromatic rice, and a flavourful broth. 

Mandi is usually garnished with fried onions, raisins, and pine nuts for an extra layer of texture and taste.

  1. Chicken Marinade Ingredients:
    • Chicken
    • Cumin
    • Coriander
    • Turmeric
    • Salt and pepper
  2. Rice Ingredients:
    • Basmati rice
    • Onions
    • Raisins
    • Pine nuts
    • Salt and pepper


Musakhan is a traditional Palestinian dish, often regarded as the national dish of Palestine. 

It features roasted chicken served over a bed of flatbread, topped with sautéed onions, and a generous sprinkling of sumac – a tangy, lemony spice that adds a distinctive flavour to the dish. 

The dish is typically associated with olive harvest season, due to the use of olive oil in cooking the onions and preparing the bread.

Here’s a brief outline of how to prepare Musakhan:

  1. Preparing the Chicken:
    • Marinate the chicken with spices such as allspice, cloves, and cinnamon
    • Roast the chicken until it’s nearly done
  2. Preparing the Onion Topping:
    • Sauté sliced onions in olive oil until caramelised
    • Mix in the sumac and toasted pine nuts
  3. Assembling the Dish:
    • Layer flatbread on a serving platter
    • Place the roasted chicken on top of the bread
    • Spread the onion and sumac mixture over the chicken
    • Garnish with additional sumac and serve warm

Now that you are familiar with these popular Arabic chicken dishes, you can try them out at your leisure to experience the delightful flavours and unique preparation techniques they offer.

Regional Varieties of Arabic Chicken Dishes

In this section, we will explore three regional varieties of Arabic chicken dishes: Egyptian FattahLebanese Chicken Shawarma, and Moroccan Chicken Tagine. These dishes showcase the diverse flavours and cooking techniques found across the Arabic world.

Egyptian Fattah

Egyptian Fattah is a traditional dish often served on special occasions. It consists of crispy, toasted bread topped with succulent pieces of chicken, a tangy tomato sauce, and a garlicky vinegar dressing. To make Egyptian Fattah, you will need:

  • Chicken (boiled and shredded)
  • Toasted bread pieces
  • Tomato sauce
  • Vinegar dressing (made of vinegar, crushed garlic, and salt)
  1. Layer the toasted bread pieces at the bottom of a serving dish.
  2. Pour the tomato sauce over the bread.
  3. Top with the boiled and shredded chicken.
  4. Drizzle the garlicky vinegar dressing over the chicken.

The crispiness of the bread complements the tender chicken, while the tangy sauce adds a zesty kick to the dish.

Lebanese Chicken Shawarma

Lebanese Chicken Shawarma is a popular street food, consisting of marinated, thinly sliced chicken cooked on a rotating spit and served in a pita wrap. To make your chicken shawarma at home, you will need:

  • Chicken (cut into thin strips)
  • Shawarma marinade (made of yoghurt, garlic, cumin, paprika, and other spices)
  • Pita bread
  • Toppings (such as pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, and garlic sauce)
  1. Marinate the chicken in the shawarma marinade for a few hours, or preferably overnight.
  2. Cook the chicken on a grill or stovetop until done.
  3. Warm the pita bread and fill it with the cooked chicken.
  4. Add your favourite toppings to complete your delicious shawarma.

The succulent, flavourful chicken paired with the fresh toppings make this dish a true Lebanese favourite.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Moroccan Chicken Tagine is a slow-cooked stew that gets its name from the conical earthenware pot it is traditionally cooked in. The dish is known for its blend of aromatic spices, such as saffron, ginger, and cinnamon. To make Moroccan Chicken Tagine, you will need:

  • Chicken (cut into pieces)
  • Olive oil
  • Onion (sliced)
  • Garlic (minced)
  • Spices (paprika, cumin, ginger, saffron, and cinnamon)
  • Vegetables (such as carrots, potatoes, and olives)
  • Chicken broth
  1. Heat the olive oil in a tagine or heavy-bottomed pan and sauté the onion and garlic.
  2. Add the chicken pieces and spices, searing the chicken on all sides.
  3. Add the vegetables and pour in the chicken broth.
  4. Cook the stew slowly, allowing the flavours to marry and the chicken to become tender.

This warming, aromatic dish is perfect for enjoying the bold flavours and delicious cuisine of Morocco.

Preparation Methods

When preparing Arabic chicken dishes, it’s essential to consider the unique ingredients and techniques that give these meals their signature flavours. Here, we’ll discuss some commonly used ingredients and traditional preparation methods.

1. Marinating: 

Before cooking, marinate your chicken to infuse it with rich flavours and ensure it stays tender. Many Arabic chicken dishes call for a combination of olive oil, lemon juice, and a variety of spices such as sumac, cumin, and coriander. 

Keep the chicken in the marinade for a few hours, or even overnight, to let the flavours meld together.

2. Grilling or baking: 

Many Arabic chicken recipes entail grilling or baking the meat to get a smoky and aromatic flavour. Preheat your oven or grill, brush the chicken with some oil, and cook it until it’s perfectly golden and crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. 

Be sure to turn the chicken pieces occasionally to cook them evenly.

3. Stewing: 

Another popular preparation method for Arabic chicken dishes is stewing or braising in a flavourful liquid. Simmer the chicken with ingredients like tomatoes, garlic, onions, and aromatic spices for a rich and hearty dish. 

This cooking method tenderises the chicken and allows the flavours to fully penetrate the meat.

4. Pairing with rice: 

Many Arabic chicken dishes are served over a bed of rice, which balances and complements the flavours of the meat. Basmati rice is typically used in these recipes, as its long grains and fragrant aroma pair well with the bold flavours of Arabic cuisine. 

Rinse the rice before cooking, and consider adding spices or herbs to enhance its flavour.

Remember to experiment with different ingredients and techniques, as the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating delicious and satisfying Arabic chicken dishes. Embrace the unique flavours of the Middle East and enjoy the process of preparing these tasty meals in your kitchen.

Healthy Aspects of Arabic Chicken Dishes

Arabic cuisine is known for its flavourful and aromatic dishes, and chicken is a common ingredient in many of these recipes. There are several healthy aspects to consider when enjoying Arabic chicken dishes.

Firstly, chicken is a lean protein source, which benefits your muscle growth and repair. It also aids in maintaining a healthy body weight. In Arabic cooking, chicken is often grilled, baked, or stewed, allowing you to enjoy its benefits without even an undue amount of added fats.

Spices and herbs are a hallmark of Arabic cuisine, and they provide numerous health benefits. For instance, turmeric contains anti-inflammatory properties, while cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar levels. 

Additionally, herbs such as parsley, mint, and coriander are packed with antioxidants and can aid digestion. Including these spices in your Arabic chicken dishes not only enhances their taste but boosts their nutritional value as well.

Arabic chicken recipes often include a variety of vegetables, such as tomatoes, onions, and leafy greens. These colourful additions provide essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre, supporting your overall health and well-being. 

By incorporating more vegetables into your Arabic chicken dishes, you can create a fulfilling, nutrient-rich meal.

Combining chicken with whole grains, such as brown rice, couscous, or bulgur wheat, can elevate the nutritional value of your dish even further. Whole grains are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, providing your body with the energy it needs. They also contain beneficial fibre to support a healthy digestive system.

In conclusion, Arabic chicken dishes offer a multitude of health benefits due to lean proteins, spices, herbs, vegetables, and whole grains. Enjoying these dishes as part of a balanced diet can contribute to a nourishing and satisfying mealtime experience.

Pairing Suggestions

When enjoying Arabic chicken dishes, there are several pairing options to consider that can elevate your dining experience. Here are a few suggestions to help you create a satisfying and well-rounded meal.

Firstly, consider serving your chicken dish on a bed of rice. Traditional Arabic rice dishes like kabsa or makbus are ideal for complementing the rich flavours of your chicken. 

Alternatively, you could try a simple basmati rice seasoned with a blend of spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom, to add a fragrant and flavourful base to your meal.

Another fantastic pairing for Arabic chicken dishes is fresh, colourful salads. Fattoush, a Lebanese salad made with mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, and crispy baked pita pieces, pairs beautifully with chicken dishes, offering fantastic textures and a burst of flavour. 

In addition, tabbouleh, a parsley salad with bulgur wheat, tomatoes, and lemon, provides a light, refreshing contrast to the heaviness of some chicken dishes.

Don’t forget to include a variety of dips and spreads when serving Arabic chicken dishes. Hummus, a classic chickpea dip with tahini, garlic, and lemon, provides a creamy element to the meal. 

Mutabbal, also known as baba ghanoush, is another delightful option, boasting a smoky aubergine dip that pairs well with grilled chicken dishes.

To enhance your meal further, serve your Arabic chicken dish with warm pita bread or flatbreads. 

These breads can easily be used to scoop up dips, sauces, and pieces of chicken, ensuring no delicious flavours go to waste. You could also opt for Arabic bread varieties like khobz or manakeesh for an authentic experience.

Finally, consider offering a selection of pickles and olives to add an extra layer of flavour to your Arabic chicken meal. Pickled cucumbers, turnips, and chillies add a tangy, crunchy component to the dining experience, while marinated olives provide a salty, briny contrast to the rich flavours of the chicken dishes.

By incorporating a variety of pairing options, you’re sure to create a memorable and satisfying meal that showcases the best of Arabic cuisine.


In conclusion, Arabic chicken dishes offer a wide variety of mouth-watering options for you to explore. From the fragrant spices used in Kabsa to the bold flavours infused into Za’atar Ras El Hanout Chicken Spinach, these recipes provide an authentic taste of Middle Eastern cuisine.

Experimenting with these dishes, you’ll find combinations of spices such as cumin, paprika, turmeric, and za’atar that will tantalise your taste buds and transport you straight to the streets of the Middle East. 

If you’re planning a dinner for friends or family, you can prepare a selection of these recipes, including well-known favourites like shawarma, and lesser-known delights like Syrian Fattet Djaj.

By diving into these Arabic chicken recipes, you will not only expand your culinary skillset but also discover a whole new spectrum of flavours that the rich and diverse Arabic cuisine has to offer. 

Don’t hesitate to try out these delicious dishes and make them a part of your regular meal rotation. Who knows, you might just find your new favourite chicken dish among these flavourful Arabic recipes.


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