A One-Pot Middle Eastern Chicken For the Win

A complete meal -- all made in one pot in the oven.
A complete meal — all made in one pot in the oven.

Molly Baz says this just might be her favorite recipe in her newest cookbook.

One taste, and you’ll be nodding in immediate agreement.

“One-Pot Chicken Mujadara,” is her take on the warmly scented Middle Eastern dish of rice and lentils in which she cooks them together in a Dutch oven with a whole chicken that turns to blissful, fall-apart tenderness.

The recipe is from her “More Is More” (Clarkson Potter, 2023) of which I received a review copy.

Baz is the Los Angeles girl wonder — the New York Times bestselling cookbook author; founder of the natural wine company, Drink This Wine; and creator of the YouTube series “Hit, The Kitch.”

These sunny, easy-breezy recipes in the book include many with QR codes to scan for step-by-step tutorials and recipe videos, too.

Get hungry for “Mashed Potato Arancini,” “Drunken Cacio e Pepe” (made with a bottle of red wine that tinges the spaghetti), “Red Curry Hot Wings Rolled in Peanuts,” and “Sweet Cotija & Sesame Pancakes.”

The recipes in this book are written a little differently with the ingredients list arranged by category for shopping ease, and the rest of the ingredients included within the recipe directions.

This Middle Eastern pilaf dish of rice and lentils is traditionally garnished with a heap of crisp, caramelized onion strings. Baz simplifies that by cooking the onions and shallots with everything else in the same pot. They don’t get crisp, but they do flavor of the entire dish.

The chicken skin gets richly golden and all the fat underneath rendered -- even though you cooked everything with the lid on.
The chicken skin gets richly golden and all the fat underneath rendered — even though you cooked everything with the lid on.

This easy recipe starts by marinating the whole chicken, for up to 24 hours, with a thick mixture of yogurt seasoned with cinnamon, cumin, and turmeric, plus a little olive oil. Although the recipe stated to use non-Greek whole milk yogurt, I actually didn’t follow that and did use whole-milk Greek yogurt because it’s what I had handy in the fridge, and it worked just fine.

Lay all those sliced onions and shallots on the bottom of a large Dutch Oven, add the chicken (saving the marinade), then roast on high-heat. After 35 minutes, add the lentils and basmati or jasmine rice to the bottom of the pot, along with the reserved marinade that’s been mixed with water, and salt. Cover, and continue cooking in the oven.

Your kitchen will fill with the delightful aroma of all those warm, earthy spices, leaving you longing in anticipation for the mouthwatering forkfuls to come.

The chicken is so succulent that it practically falls off the bone.
The chicken is so succulent that it practically falls off the bone.

Lift the cooked chicken out of the pot to carve. It won’t take much; you barely need a knife to cut into the succulent, extremely tender flesh. The skin will be bronzed in parts, not flabby, but semi crisp even though the chicken cooked the entire time covered in the pot.

Arrange the chicken on plates with some of the lentil-rice pilaf. Serve with spoonfuls of plain yogurt, and lemon slices.

Normally, I’d say one chicken would serve 4, but this easily serves 6 because the rice-lentil mixture is plentiful and substantial tasting. In fact, if you end up with leftover rice and lentils after devouring the chicken, add it to a pot with chicken stock, a handful of chopped spinach or kale, and a dash more cumin and turmeric, for a fabulously nourishing bowl of soup.

So, what are you waiting for? Make this hearty and homey take on chicken and rice that’s guaranteed to satisfy mind, body, and soul.

Lentils and basmati, plus plenty of onions and shallots -- all infused with warm Middle Eastern spices.
Lentils and basmati, plus plenty of onions and shallots — all infused with warm Middle Eastern spices.

One-Pot Chicken Mujadara

(Serves 6)


6 large shallots

2 medium yellow onions

3 lemons


2 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek), plus more for serving


One (4 1/2- to 5-pound) whole chicken


6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 cup long-grain white rice, such as jasmine or basmati

1 cup dried brown or black lentils (not quick-cooking)

Marinate the bird: “Collar” a large zip-top bag by folding the top few inches of the bag down over itself. Doing so will help the bag stand more easily on its own and will make the process of marinating much neater. Place one (4 1/2- to 5-pound) chicken inside the bag.

In a large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups yogurt with a few glugs of olive oil (about 3 tablespoons), 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon ground turmeric, and 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper. Scrape the mixture into the bag with the chicken. Seal the bag and squish the marinade around to distribute, working some of the marinade into the chicken cavity as well. Transfer to the refrigerator and marinated for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

While the bird marinates, do some prep: Thinly slice 6 shallots and 2 medium onions crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rings.

Cook the bird: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 475°F.

In a large Dutch oven, place the shallot and onion slices. Drizzle with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Remove the chicken from the marinade and transfer it directly on top of the shallots and onions. No need to scrape the marinade off the chicken; it should still be coated. Reserve the bag of remaining marinade.

Cut 1 lemon in half and stuff it into the cavity of the chicken. Drizzle the top of the chicken with some olive oil, cover the pot with the lid and transfer to the oven. Roast for 35 minutes.

Add the rice and lentils: Add 3 cups of water to a large measuring cup or bowl. Pour and scrape the marinade from the bag into the measuring cup with the water. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and stir to combine.

In a fine-mesh strainer, combine and rinse 1 cup long-grain white rice and 1 cup dried lentils.

Remove the pot from the oven. With a large wooden spoon, tilt the chicken to one side and pour the rice and lentils into the pot, along with the water-marinade mixture. Stir the rice and lentils around the bird to distribute evenly. Cover the pot and return it to the oven.

Braise until the rice and lentils are tender and the chicken is burnished in some spots, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest (still covered) for 10 minutes.

Serve: Cut the remaining 2 lemons in half.

Transfer the chicken to a carving board and carve it up. Season the lentils to taste and serve with more yogurt and the lemon halves for squeezing.

From “More Is More” by Molly Baz

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  • This really does sound wonderful. The yogurt seasoned with cinnamon, cumin, and turmeric along with the juices from the roasted chicken have to create a delicious lentil and rice to serve with the chicken. The two of us would definitely have leftovers and I like your idea of making soup. Sounds like three good meals to me.

  • Hi Karen: It’s soooo delicious! I can’t wait to make it again to enjoy. Hope you give it a try.

  • Two *tablespoons* of salt?? Plus more salt later? This is a misprint, surely…

  • Hi Mark: Actually, that amount in the recipe is correct. It may seem like a lot, but remember that the salt is seasoning not only the chicken, but the marinade/sauce and the rice. You could always cut back on the amount, but I didn’t find that the dish tasted overly salty.

  • Mark Lascelles

    Thanks. I’ll use the full amount, then!

  • Hi Mark: My pleasure! Enjoy this marvelous dish.

  • I did cut-down the salt . I also changed yogurt for coconut cream which was even better. I bought chicken in roasting bag which made the marinating super easy.

    I just love this recipe and style of cooking and serving food. Thank you.

  • Hi Fiona: Ooh, I love the idea of coconut cream instead of yogurt to create an even richer taste. So glad you enjoyed the recipe and post.

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