Husband-and-wife duo Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis followed up their hit LA restaurant Bestia with a cuisine that’s closer to their hearts; they had another sensation in Bavel. Though Menashe had cooked Italian food his whole career, he longed to want to tap into the flavors of his youth growing up in Israel. He and Gergis combined that experience with their travel around the Middle East to create a stellar restaurant where cultures from around the region live side by side.
Now, they’ve followed up their Bestia cookbook with one devoted to recipes from Bavel. In Bavel: Modern Recipes Inspired by the Middle East, they teamed with journalist Leslie Suter to fill the pages with the dishes that have made the restaurant so beloved, like lamb neck shawarma, hummus, harissa prawns, strawberry-sumac pastry and more. Menashe shares his recipe for yogurt-marinated chicken that’s some of the juiciest he’s ever had.
When my daughter, Saffron, turned two, we invited a bunch of people to our house for a dinner party. I decided to make this yogurt-marinated chicken, and it was easily the juiciest chicken I’d ever had in my life. The yogurt marinade acts like a brine, tenderizing the meat and making it even juicier than a normal roasted chicken. While the meat cooks, the marinade forms a hard shell around the bird that prevents any juices from escaping, steaming the chicken from the inside out and keeping it super moist. The delicate floral spices of fennel seed, coriander, orange peel and orange blossom taste incredible on the extra-crispy skin. Serve this alongside rice or with or any simple mixed green salad and garlic toum.
Turmeric Chicken with Toum
Serves 2 to 4
- 1 tbsp. ground turmeric
- 2 tsp. ground dried orange peel
- 1 tsp. ground fennel seeds
- 3⁄4 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 garlic clove, grated with a Microplane
- 1-inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and grated with a Microplane
- 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp orange blossom water
- 3⁄4 c yogurt (Homemade or store-bought whole milk Greek yogurt)
- One 3 1⁄2-pound whole chicken, neck, wing tips and innards removed
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Toum (recipe follows) for serving
To make the marinade: In a bowl, combine the ground turmeric, orange peel, fennel, cumin, coriander, garlic and fresh turmeric. Then add the orange juice, orange blossom water and yogurt and stir to combine.
To prepare the chicken: Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper. Rub some of the marinade inside the cavity of the chicken.
Using kitchen twine, tie the legs together. I like to keep the wings loose and not tied so the breasts and wings get crispy.
Evenly season the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on a sheet pan and let it sit, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then rub the marinade all over the outside. (It may seem like a lot but use it all.) Transfer the sheet pan, uncovered, to the refrigerator and marinate overnight.
When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours prior to cooking. (Cooking the chicken cold will take longer and might dry out the meat.)
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the chicken breast-side up on the rack of a roasting pan. Roast for 40 to 50 minutes (if the skin is browning too quickly, decrease the heat to 375°F), until the meat between the leg and thigh feels tender to the touch or using an instant-read thermometer placed in the thigh, the temperature reaches 160° to 165°F. Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes to let the juices redistribute. Cut off the kitchen twine, carve and serve with a side of toum.
Makes 1 cup
- 14 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 heaping tsp. kosher salt
- 2 tbsp. orange blossom water
- 1 1⁄3 c. canola oil
Combine the garlic, lemon juice, salt and orange blossom water in a blender. Pulse on the lowest setting until just combined. Then in a slow and steady stream, add the oil while continuing to blend on low, gradually increasing the speed to medium-high until the mixture has fully emulsified. The consistency should be similar to mayonnaise with some soft peaks.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The consistency will thicken slightly after refrigeration.
Note: The garlic is what binds the oil with the other liquids to make more of a solidified consistency. If you double this recipe, it will be even easier for your blender to emulsify the ingredients.
Reprinted with permission from Bavel: Modern Recipes Inspired by the Middle East by Ori Menashe, Genevieve Gergis and Lesley Suter, copyright © 2021. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.