Chicken with zaatar and tahini sauce

June 1, 2014  •  Category:

I met Anas Chao first through a series of e-mails. He was a follower of this blog, and was going to be in Beirut and suggested we meet. We became fast friends and ended-up exploring the old souks of Sidon together. Anas speaks fluent Lebanese Arabic, resides in Taipei, but grew up in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where his dad was stationed for work. He trained as a graphic designer but is  keenly interested in Lebanese cuisine. He is also a talented photographer. Watching  the locals’ delighted reaction when they would hear him address them in flawless Arabic was a sight to behold! 

Back in Taipei, Anas started his own business, aptly called A Meal, in which he cooked private parties at his home studio for people interested in Middle-Eastern inspired cuisine.  Apparently there are no Middle-Eastern restaurants in Taipei. His business has been picking-up, as there are more people than he imagined who are amateurs of  this type of food.

  I was really curious to see his menu, and he graciously gave me the recipe for the item that interested me the most. Chicken in zaatar and tahini sauce. I had to try it. Tahini sauce (tarator) and zaatar are not normally combined in Lebanon. What is more traditional is to mix tahini sauce with fresh parsley or cilantro. Turned out the combo is yummy! This is an easy and delicious meal. 

INGREDIENTS: (slightly adapted)

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into thumb-size
  • Marinade: 1 tablespoon mashed garlic, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, salt to taste and 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup zaatar
  • Tahini sauce: 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 4 garlic cloves, mashed with salt
  • 1/2 cup water or more as needed to make it smooth
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced (or cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 onions, sliced (or pearl onions)

1. Marinate the chicken pieces overnight. The next day, drain and pan-fry the chicken (Anas baked it till done). Coat with the tahini sauce mixed with zaatar. Serve with tomatoes and onions. Anas roasted cherry tomatoes and onions in the oven, I sliced tomatoes and served them raw.  

2. To make the tahini sauce: Pour the tahini in a bowl, add the lemon juice, garlic and enough water for the mixture to be smooth; stir continuously until smooth, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more garlic or lemon if desired. Mix in the zaatar, adding it gradually to taste. 

521415_10151889505980002_42030232_n Image is by Anas Chao of a woodcarver in the Sidon souks, with his inventory of garlic mortars and ma’amoul molds and slippers! Anas Chao image Anas Chao’s image of the pastry vendor in Sidon, Lebanon, and, below, a falafel-maker. Anas picture of falafel maker


7 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    Tasty! I love tahini and za’atar.



  2. Sylva says:

    Very nice recipe, tahini with chicken is simple tasty, and a family favorite of mine. Thanks Joumana! You did it again!

  3. Lydia says:

    The za’atar gets mixed in with the tahini sauce, right? Not mentioned in the recipe instructions, but it makes sense. 1/4 cup is a lot of za’atar, and I imagine the lemon flavor is fantastic. Can’t wait to try it!

    • Joumana says:

      @Lydia: I will add it to the instructions, thanks for pointing it out; also, Anas uses less zaatar, it is to taste, really.

  4. Oui, Chef says:

    I can’t wait to make this one, love tarator and zaatar so much!

  5. KabulKitchen says:

    This looks delicious, I have made chicken with Zaatar the tahini adds a nice creaminess to an already perfect combination. So interesting how you can find all types of food in places you would never imagine!

  6. youmen says:

    is it fresh zaatar or zaatar blend that we have to use..

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