One-Pot Middle Eastern Chicken And Rice With Zhug

This one-pot Middle Eastern chicken and rice fills my entire home with an incredible nutty and spicy aroma. The rice is warm, spicy, and a bit buttery. It's also filled with lovely bites of potato and tomato. The chicken thighs are cooked on top of the spicy rice and absorb all the tasty flavors. I top the dish off with zhug sauce which is sweet, fresh, and spicy. The zhug contrasts the rich flavors so nicely. Serve this chicken and rice with cucumbers to give it a nice crunch. 

I use sumac in this recipe. I sprinkle it on top of the finished chicken and rice. I recommend you don't skip out on the sumac even though it can be hard to find. Sumac is tangy and stands out on the finished dish. 

The hawaij

In this recipe, I use a Yemenite spice mix called a hawaij. There are two types of hawaij - sweet and savory. Sweet hawaij is for seasoning coffee, while savory hawaij is in soups, roasted meats, vegetables, and rice dishes. I'm using a savory hawaij in this recipe. This savory hawaij is full of big warm flavors: cumin, turmeric, black pepper, ground coriander, cloves, cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon. 

The zhug

I'm also using a Yemenite hot sauce called zhug. I am obsessed with this fresh and spicy sauce, and I want to put it on everything I eat. The main ingredients of zhug are parsley, cilantro, chili peppers (I use jalapenos), garlic, cardamom, cumin, and black pepper. I add a bit of honey and lemon juice to this zhug which helps the fresh flavors stand out. In my opinion, the zhug sauce really makes this meal. It goes so well with the warm and spicy chicken and rice. 


  • 5 bone-in skin on chicken thighs (2.5 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 thinly diced yellow onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1 large baking potato cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1-pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2.5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce 
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Ground Sumac 
  • Cucumbers to serve with


  • 2 tsp cumin 
  • 2  tsp turmeric 
  • ½  teaspoon cardamom 
  • ½ tsp cinnamon 
  • ½  tsp cloves 
  • ½  teaspoon coriander
  • ¼  tsp black ground pepper  


  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, large
  • 2 jalapenos seeds and stems removed 
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom 
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon honey 
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


Step 1

Mix all of the hawaij spices in a small bowl and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Step 2

In a food processor, blend the jalapeno, parsley, cilantro, cardamom, cumin, garlic, lemon juice, and honey. Add ⅓ cup olive oil and blend until it’s smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 3

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel and liberally season with salt and pepper. In batches, fry the chicken thighs for about 4 minutes on each side. Make sure the skin gets super crispy. Remove the chicken thighs to a large plate.

Adjust the stovetop temperature to medium and melt all of the unsalted butter in the pot. Toss the onions into a pot. Sauté the onions until lightly browned, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, and spice mix to the pot. Stir everything together and cook for 2 minutes. Pour the broth, soy sauce, and rice into the pot. Make sure to scrape all the flavorful brown bits off the bottom of the pot. Check the broth's seasoning before you add the chicken thighs. Arrange the chicken thighs skin-side-up in the Dutch oven. Bring the pot to a boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place the pot into the oven for 25 minutes.

Step 4

Remove the lid from the pot and place it back in the oven for 10 additional minutes. The chicken and rice are finished when the chicken reaches 165 degrees, and there isn’t any liquid left in the Dutch oven. Sprinkle sumac all over the chicken and rice. Serve the chicken and rice generously topped with zhug sauce and cucumbers.

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