A creamy, spicy, juicy zhoug chicken recipe with Middle Eastern-inspired flavors of cilantro, parsley, lemon, garlic, and tangy yogurt, served with turmeric, cumin, paprika-spiced rice with quinoa and served with fresh steamed broccoli.
How to Keep Baked Chicken Moist?
This Middle Eastern-inspired dish is a meal we return to for dinner at home. The secret is to keep the chicken moist when baking. I use a deep baking pan like a loaf pan to ensure that the zhoug chicken will not dry out while it's baking, and you get some browning at the top, too.
Enjoy this Quick Zhoug Sauce recipe as a condiment topping, sauce, and marinade. If you wish just to cook the rice, please check out the Easy Spiced Brown Rice and Quinoa recipe. Find more fantastic rice recipes in the Cook's Notebook section on Cooking Rice. What else can you make with the spiced rice? Well, Curried Chickpeas with Mushroom, that is! It also goes very well with the Air-Fryer Salmon with Pepper Cabbage Slaw recipe.
You will want to prepare the rice in your rice cooker or stovetop. I have provided instructions for both. Use basmati brown rice mixed with protein-rich quinoa; it comes out perfect in the rice cooker. Season the rice with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, turmeric, cumin, crushed red pepper chili flakes, cinnamon, and coriander. Then, when the rice is ready, you will fold in the lemon zest and chopped parsley.
See the zhoug chicken recipe card for quantities.
Then, you will cut the chicken breast into large chunks for the zhug chicken and combine it with zhug sauce, greek yogurt, and season with salt and pepper. This will then be placed in your air fryer or oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Finally, you will serve the zhoug chicken dish with quick steamed broccoli that only takes 3 minutes! This combination makes an incredible healthy chicken recipe that you'll keep coming back with a zhug recipe that can add to so many dishes as a marinade to using traditionally as a pepper sauce.
Cutting the chicken into large chunks while baking it in a deep dish helps keep the chicken's juice in and moist. Learn more about prepping chicken. Undoubtedly, these color-coded flexible plastic cutting boards are the best to prevent cross-contamination.
Busy Folks - Become a better home cook with cooking tips to help you cook more efficiently on Cook's Notebook tab. In addition, some related detailed steps can be found there.
- Brown Rice - You can use medium-grain brown rice or jasmine brown rice. For example, medium-grain brown rice refers to regular white medium-grain rice with the brain layer covering the white grain. Jasmine brown rice has a slight floral aroma. It is usually used in South East Asian and Caribbean cuisines.
- Quinoa - You can replace the quinoa in the same amount as rice.
- Ground Cinnamon - You can use one cinnamon stick.
- Lemon Zest - Try ¼ teaspoon dried lemon peel.
- Fresh Chopped Parsley - Try 1 teaspoon dried parsley.
- Quick Zhug Sauce Alternative - You might find an already-made version at your local store.
- Jalapeno Pepper - Use Serrano or a mixture of both.
- Chili Pepper Flakes Substitutes for Zhug Sauce - 1 Thai chili (Bird's Eye Chili) or ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper for every ½ teaspoon.
- Ground Cardamom Substitute - ¼ teaspoon ground ginger with ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon per ½ teaspoon.
Change Heat Level - Modify the recipe's heat level to your liking and learn more about the Scoville Scale and Chili Pairings.
- Roasted Zhoug Chicken - Omit the yogurt and marinate the chicken in the zhug sauce. It makes a great roasted chicken meal with a salad, fresh sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, and a lemony vinaigrette.
- Air fryer - We've always cooked this recipe in a small baking dish in our Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Indoor Grill. It’s so convenient because it takes less time than the oven. I don’t have to worry about waiting for the whole oven to preheat for a long time, and it’s so simple to use, like using a microwave. All of this helps when time is limited. You can see how I use the Ninja, and there is an image link below as well, under recommended products in the recipe.
- Rice Cooker - Use this if you plan to make the rice and the zhoug chicken. I developed this recipe using my Aroma Housewares Digital Rice Cooker. However, if you do not have a rice cooker, you can make it on the stovetop, as you would usually make it. Then add the lemon zest and chopped parsley after it's cooked.
- Steamer - Use this if you will make steamed broccoli as well. If you do not have a steamer, you can also boil it briefly for 3 minutes in boiling water. Also, some rice cookers have steamers, but they can be easily overcooked since it really only takes about 3 minutes to cook to a bright green color where the texture still has a bite. For this recipe, I used my Stainless Steel Oster Steamer.
Kitchen Must Haves - Find other tools I use here.
- Refrigerator - Place the zhoug chicken, rice, and broccoli in the fridge in a 2-inch shallow pan to cool down quickly. Then, store the meal and the rest of the zhug in an air-tight sealing container. The meal will last for up to four days, and five days for the zhug sauce.
- Freezer - First, follow the refrigeration process mentioned above. For the meal, please place it in the freezer in a labeled, airtight container. Place the zhug sauce in a labeled freezer-sealing bag or divide portions into an ice cube tray, then pour the frozen cubes into a labeled freezer-sealing bag.
Air Tight Food Containers - I use Glass Food Storage Containers with a plastic clipping lid to store food. For example, I always suggest glass storage containers since you can microwave them and hold food without staining the container, and the glass keeps them at a more stable temperature, which keeps the food fresher longer.
Removing Seeds to Control Heat Level Tip - When recipes call to remove seeds from hot peppers to control the heat level, you have to actually remove the rib (pith) of the pepper, the white flesh. Also, learn more about the pepper heat levels, or the Scoville Scale, in the Cook's Notebook tab.
Frequently Asked Questions
Zhoug is a fiery, aromatic Middle Eastern hot pepper sauce originally from Yemen, which has become increasingly popular adding to food in recent years. It typically consists of fresh green chili peppers (I use jalapenos, some use serrano), garlic, cumin, coriander, and olive oil.
There are also even variations with mint leaves and oregano. It has a spicy kick and a slightly bitter taste due to the cumin but also imparts sweetness from the garlic and herbal notes from the herbs - making it perfect for chicken. A dollop or two of zhoug adds an intense heat to any dish - from falafel to stir-fries - making it perfect for spicing up your favorite recipes!
As you can see, making this easy chicken dish doesn't take much. Therefore, it's a good idea to have my quick zhug sauce on hand that can be stored in your fridge for a week! You’ll be able to make the best healthy chicken recipe in less than an hour on a busy night. But you can skip making the zhug recipe by finding this popular sauce probably at your local market or Middle Eastern food stores.
Uniform Pieces = Same Cooking Time. Sometimes, chicken breast can come in different sizes, which is natural. But it can make some pieces cook faster than others. This is why you need to cut it into uniform pieces. In addition, below is a simple, straightforward video on how to cut the chicken into large, uniform pieces for my recipes. There is no audio. Learn more chicken-cutting tips.
If you decide to serve this with rice, ensure you fluff the rice. For example, fluffing the rice with a fork or a paddle evaporates the extra moisture, leaving you with a bowl of lighter, fluffier rice. The method involves scooping and mixing the cooked rice within the container to allow steam to escape.
Zesting is peeling only the skin of the citrus fruit without the white flesh, referred to as pith. Notably, the skin contains aromatic oils and is an excellent addition to recipes to intensify the flavors of a dish. Therefore, a fine grater like the Microplane is the most convenient way to obtain the zest of the citrus fruit usually referred to as zester. Learn more about Zesting on the Cook's Notebook tab.
Use as a marinade to grill/bake/roast tofu, meats, poultry, fish, and vegetables or as a dipping sauce in hummus or on its own.
Looking for other chicken recipes like this? Try these:
Middle Eastern Recipes
Looking for other Middle Eastern-inspired recipes like this? Try these:
- Cook chicken to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C).
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat to prevent foodborne illness from contaminated uncooked meats.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat to prevent cross-contamination.
- Don't leave food at room temperature for extended periods; this can breed bacteria.
- Never leave cooking food unattended to prevent burns and fires.
- Use oils with a high smoke point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
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