This baharat roast chicken with sweet potatoes is an easy-to-prepare, one-pan meal of tender spice-rubbed roast chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, shallots, and the whole shebang is drizzled with a preserved lemon oil.
Though the taste of this baharat roast chicken with sweet potatoes is revelatory, there’s nothing surprising about the underlying technique. It’s just the centuries-old approach of rubbing a chicken with flavor and roasting it atop vegetables so that the flavor-imbued juices soak into the underlying ingredients. Simple in approach. Not in flavor.–Renee Schettler
What is baharat?
Baharat is a spice blend common in Turkish and Arabic cultures that varies by household yet typically contains some combination of black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, and paprika. The term “baharat” in Arabic literally means “spices,” and the warm, earthy spice blend with notes of smoky and sweet is used as generally as its name implies. The taste is somewhat similar to garam masala. Baharat is commonly relied on in recipes for lamb, chicken, and fish as well as rice and soups. You can mix it with olive oil, as in this recipe, to create a spice rub for chicken.
Baharat Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes
- 1 whole (3 to 4 pounds) chicken
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Baharat spice blend
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium (18 oz) sweet potatoes scrubbed clean, cut lengthwise into 1-inch (25-mm) wedges
- 6 medium (10 oz total) shallots peeled and halved lengthwise
- 1 medium (2 oz) head of garlic separated into cloves, unpeeled
- 1 store-bought or homemade preserved lemon rind rinsed and finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C).
- Slide your fingers beneath the skin of the chicken to gently separate it from the meat. Pour 1/4 cup of the oil over the chicken, rubbing it all over the outside of the bird as well as under the skin. Then season the chicken over and under the skin with the baharat, 1 to 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. You want to cover every part of the chicken with spice.
- In a roasting pan, toss the sweet potatoes, shallots, and garlic with another 1/4 cup of the oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Arrange the shallots and garlic in the center of the roasting pan. Place the chicken, breast side up, on the vegetables.
☞TESTER TIP: You want the garlic and shallots to be beneath the chicken so they have some protection against the heat of the oven. Otherwise, they may scorch.
- Roast until the chicken is crisp and golden, the juices run clear when pierced, and a meat thermometer inserted in a thigh reads 165°F (74°C), 60 to 80 minutes.
- Carefully remove the chicken from the pan and tent it with foil. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes.
- Check the vegetables. If they aren’t tender, return the pan with the vegetables to the oven and roast until they’re done, probably no more than 5 to 10 minutes more.
- In a small bowl, mix together the chopped preserved lemon rind and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil.
☞TESTER TIP: If you prefer a creamier rather than a chunkier consistency, you could instead process the preserved lemon rind and oil in a blender.
- Peel the garlic and toss the cloves back in the pan. This is tedious but worth it.
- Carve the chicken and arrange the pieces on a platter. Serve the chicken surrounded with the roasted vegetables and drizzled with the preserved lemon oil.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is very rich in flavor and aroma. The scent fills the room and the flavor doesn’t disappoint. Crispy skin is essential in a roast chicken, and this spicy and oil-laden skin gets you there. A superb, flavor-filled, comfort-food or dinner-for-guests meal.
The amazing part is that it is really quick to prepare. Additionally, I think one could actually prep the chicken and keep it in the fridge overnight. Then the next night it gets placed in the oven. I will try that the next time.
I served it alongside small plates of the Arab salad called fattoush with pita and it was perfect. It would easily serve four people.
I did not put the spices under the skin. I put them all over the skin.
There was a fair amount of very flavorful pan juices. I poured them into a small bowl and put it on the table.
My personal assessment: This recipe is very forgiving. By that I mean that even if you don’t measure everything precisely, it will be fine. And while I will fix this again, I think I would rather have Israeli couscous or basmati rice instead of the sweet potatoes. And perhaps another head of garlic.
This recipe was a delight—easy to make, low maintenance, and absolutely delicious!
The chicken was scrummy, but the heroes of the dish were the sweet potatoes, shallots, and garlic. They were roasted to melting tenderness under the chicken and they soaked up all of the lovely juices!
The preserved lemon dressing was also a lovely tangy counterpoint to the rest of the dish.
A whole head of garlic might seem like a lot, but trust the recipe. It works! The only fiddly bit of this recipe is actually peeling the garlic at the end, but it’s totally worth it.
There were no instructions to baste the chicken during cooking. I was worried that the chicken would be dry, but I needn’t have worried! My husband has already asked me to make this again!
A few of the garlic cloves were a bit overdone and dark when I peeled them. Make sure the garlic cloves are tucked well under the chicken so they aren’t exposed and they don’t burn.
I seasoned over and under the chicken skin. I recommend doing this otherwise putting all the seasoning on the skin could make it too salty.
Baharat is one of my favorite spice blends. I’ve been using it for some time now and am always thrilled when I find a recipe that asks for it. I use a Turkish blend that combines paprika, cumin, and coriander with mint, cinnamon, and rose petals.
I preferred to mix the salt, pepper and Baharat with the olive oil and rub that all over the chicken at once. I did put the oil and spices both under and over the chicken skin and there was definitely enough to thoroughly cover every inch of the bird.
While the chicken was really good—tender, well flavored, and perfectly crisp—it was the vegetables underneath that really stole the show. There was quite a bit of chicken leftover but absolutely none of the vegetables; we devoured them, full garlic cloves and all. The amount of vegetables fit well in the cast iron skillet that I used but I found that there just weren’t enough vegetables.
I did have some preserved lemons and blended one up to serve alongside. This was an especially nice touch and it was incredibly good on everything.
I have not made a whole roasted chicken in a VERY long time, so this was fun for me. This is an easy-to-follow method for roasting chicken. The chicken was perfectly cooked and very juicy. The Baharat spice blend lent a complex earthy flavor with a hint of spice.
I might truss the chicken next time, but as this recipe did not indicate to do so, I followed the directions provided.
I spooned the vegetables over rice and topped with the lemon rind for a wonderful, simple meal!
The Baharat spice blend I bought from my local Middle Eastern grocery. They had 2 different blends. I opted for the Arabian Gulf Spice Mix with a larger mix of spices including ground dried limes, black pepper, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, paprika, and curry powder.
I did not realize that I should have purchased the preserved lemon and I will admit that I read this with a pastry chef’s mind and immediately thought of candied rind. Preserved rind takes at least a month to make so I made candied rind and added salt to it. This seemed to work with the dish although I know it’s different from what the recipe intended.
My vegetables did overcook as some were not directly under the chicken. The garlic and shallots that were exposed were burnt and inedible. Also, they were on the smaller side, which didn’t help. My potatoes were on the smaller side as well. I would use more next time.
We (hubby and I) really liked this recipe. It was perfectly cooked, moist, and ridiculously good. It looked exactly like the photograph. The garlic separated easily from the skins and the sweet potatoes were sigh worthy.
I preheated the oven to 425°F and worried that this was too hot for the entire hour of roasting. I had no need to be concerned as the chicken was perfectly cooked. I removed it from the pan of roasting vegetables when it was about 160°F (1 hour of roasting, just as the recipe directs). By the time we were ready to eat, it was 165°F.
Changes I would make in the future: double the seasoning mixture so I’m sure to have enough to go under the skin; increase the sweet potatoes because they were so delicious; leave off the preserved lemon condiment and just serve it with lemon wedges. I can see this being a great sheet pan dinner using just bone-in thighs (or breasts, if that’s your thing) and throwing in something green like broccoli midway through roasting. I suppose you could also use a preserved lemon rind just chopped and stirred into the veggies to keep with the spirit of the recipe, but I think I would still want the fresh lemon.
All in all, this is a GREAT recipe. This, or some riff on this recipe, will be going into the regular rotation.
This roast chicken dinner was fantastic! The simple addition of the baharat made an ordinary roast chicken extraordinary, the chicken drippings made the potatoes next level, and the preserved lemon perked everything up just right.
My only extra note would be to let the preserved lemon kind of marinate with the olive oil for a bit to let them meld nicely before using. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this meal and would definitely make it again without changing a thing.
This takes a no-nonsense method for roasted chicken and provides welcome variations in flavor. Baharat is one of my favorite spice blends, and while I’ve used it on pork, roasted vegetables, and even in banana bread, I’d never used it on chicken.
I order my baharat from Spice Station, Silverlake in Los Angeles. I made sure to get the spice mix on the exterior of the skin as well as under, which I think makes all the difference in ensuring the fragrance and flavors seep into the meat. My chicken was on the large side, so my vegetables were fully cooked and fork tender by the time the chicken was done.
Whatever you do, don’t skip the preserved lemon condiment. While not everyone will like the flavor (one of the people I served it to refused to eat it), this brought a welcome brightness to the dish and I worked to get some into every bite.
Originally published December 14, 2020