I only started eating meat again recently. Up until five months ago, I had been a pescetarian for five and a half years. Even now, I’d rather eat vegetarian meals.
But this chicken is a game changer. I am not lying when I say this is the best chicken you will ever eat.
The best part? You only need 4 ingredients to make it. That’s right. Four.
This is my family’s chicken recipe. My parents will often make it when they’re having friends over for dinner, as part of a huge Egyptian feast — and I mean huge. In true Egyptian fashion, my father will purchase about five times the food we actually need to feed the guests, which ultimately results in leftovers for two or three weeks. I eventually tire of the other dishes we’re trying to finish off, but I never get sick of eating this leftover chicken — hot, cold, in a sandwich, cubed in a salad, or on its own straight out of the fridge. It’s that good.
Egyptian cuisine is much lighter than Greek food, although people often compare it because both countries lie on the Mediterranean (tip: don’t. You will offend people of both cultures by doing so, trust me). It is less oily and relies more heavily on legumes (think lentils, chickpeas, fava beans) and fresh vegetables. It is also better than any other Middle Eastern food, ever, period. Yes, I am biased. No, I am not exaggerating.
This chicken gets more tender and flavourful the longer you allow it to marinate. Ideally, make the marinade the night before you intend to cook the chicken and allow the meat to bathe in it for 24 hours. Alternatively, you can do it in the morning and keep it in the fridge all day until you’re home from work, school, or whatever it is you’re up to. Then just throw it in the oven and prepare your side dishes while it bakes. I promise you will not be disappointed.
And now, to reveal the four magical ingredients! I really hope you enjoy this recipe. It is truly one of my favourite dishes and a staple in my diet.
Yoghurt, Mint, and Garlic Marinated Chicken
for one chicken breast
between 1/3 and 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1-2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tbsp dried mint leaves
1. Adjust the quantity of yoghurt, garlic, and mint according to the number of chicken breasts you are preparing.
2. In a bowl, mix the yoghurt and dried mint. Mince the garlic and add to the yoghurt mixture. Stir to combine all the ingredients.
3. In a shallow glass baking dish or other vessel, pour about 1/3 of the yoghurt mixture to cover the bottom of the dish. Arrange the chicken breasts over the mixture, then cover them with the rest of the yoghurt. Make sure the chicken is completely covered with the yoghurt marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 5 to 24 hours.
Note: if you are cooking less than four chicken breasts, it may be easier to simply place the chicken in the bowl of yoghurt marinade and cover it.
4. When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat your oven to 350º. If the chicken is in a bowl, transfer it into a shallow glass oven-proof dish. Then, remove the majority of the yoghurt from the chicken breasts by spooning it off the meat and out of the dish. However, there should still be a thin layer of yoghurt mixture on and around the chicken while it bakes.
5. Cover the chicken with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. Then remove the foil and cook for another 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. Check to make sure the chicken is fully cooked through before removing it from the oven by cutting through the thickest part of the breast and looking for pinkness.
6. Serve with whatever you’d like; rice and a simple salad, steamed green beans or grilled asparagus, burger buns with all the trimmings (avoid ketchup, mustard, and mayo and use hummus or babaganouj as a sauce instead).
7. Repeat, forever.