hawaij seasoned roast chicken


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

hawaij seasoned roast chicken | A Brown Table

Let’s start this holiday themed story with a confession. I prefer chicken to turkey, I eat both but if I had to choose, I usually go with chicken or the smaller birds. Chicken is just more flavorful and also just enough for a family of two. But that being said, each year at Thanksgiving, depending on how many people we have over we’ll get one or the other, turkey if it’s a larger group of people. The things I need at Thanksgiving are the bird, the green bean side, cranberry chutney or sauce and my sweet potato pie. I usually make myself an extra sweet potato pie so I can eat it during the week. My gym trainers have always insisted on eating sweet potatoes so who am I to argue. 

While we might alternate on birds in this household, we try to change the seasonings used each year. One year it might be a more familiar Indian seasoning such as garam masala while sometimes it could be a more California inspired citrus seasoned turkey. I like to do this because it gives me a moment to appreciate and learn about ingredients used in different cultures and it’s also a great topic of conversation to discuss with guests who are curious about their food and how it was seasoned. With that in mind this year, I partnered with Sahadis in NYC and decided to use their Hawaij seasoning. Hawaij is a highly aromatic spice blend that comes from Yemen and the blend from Sahadi’s contains turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and some other spices. I find it to be a warming spice which is why I think it works well during the colder months as an all-purpose seasoning for food. Here, the seasoning is used in conjunction with the lemons and a little white wine and fresh garlic cloves that then permeate the bird as it cooks in the hot oven. And to make it a “sheet pan” type dinner, I threw in a couple of fingerling potatoes and rainbow carrots at the bottom of my roasting pan so they cook along with the seasonings but also with the fat that drips from the bird as it roasts. The result is a jus that is lemony spiced with the heavenly scent of hawaij. This recipe will also work with an 8lb turkey, double the seasoning amount and use as much as needed and brine your bird before. And don’t forget to taste and adjust the seasoning of the jus if needed, you probably shouldn’t need to.

So tell me what are some of your favorite holiday traditions! 

This weekend, I’ll also be at the MOAD as a part of panel with the lovely Julia Turshen and several other wonderful SF Bay Area folk. Julia wrote Small Victories and will be in town to discuss her latest book, Feed the Resistance in San Francisco. I have a recipe in the book that also contains poems, recipes and motivating words from people from all over the country.

Also, I got my roasting pan and carving board from Williams-Sonoma. I like the stainless steel surface because it’s easier to clean and maintain compared to non-stick ones which eventually need to be replaced much, much sooner.

hawaij seasoned roast chicken | A Brown Table

hawaij seasoned roast chicken | A Brown Table

hawaij seasoned roast chicken | A Brown Table

hawaij seasoned roast chicken | A Brown Table

hawaij seasoned roast chicken | A Brown Table

hawaij seasoned roast chicken | A Brown Table

hawaij seasoned roast chicken

makes 4 servings


one 4 lb fryer/roasting chicken

1/4 cup Sahadi Yemeni Hawaij seasoning

2 tsp kosher salt

2 lemons

1 large garlic head

1 lb rainbow carrots

1 lb fingerling potatoes

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups white wine such as Chardonnay

Pat the chicken dry with clean paper towels. 

Mix the Hawaij with the salt in a small bowl and rub the chicken generously all over with the seasoning both on the surface of the skin but also in the pockets of space between the skin and the flesh using your hands.

Cut one lemon in quarters and the second in halves. Place the quartered lemon pieces inside the cavity of the chicken. Cut the garlic head in half and place one half inside the cavity. Truss the chicken with kitchen twine to hold the bird together. Drizzle with the bird with the remaining olive oil. Wrap the chicken with cling film and leave in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, preferably 4 hours. 

To roast, preheat the oven to 400 F. Take a clean and dry roasting pan and rub 1 Tbsp of olive oil on the pan. Place the remaining garlic, carrots and potatoes in the pan. Place the rack over the vegetables in the pan and then unwrap the trussed chicken and place it on top. Place the two lemon halves on either side of the chicken. Add the wine to the base of the pan and then roast the chicken for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature reaches 165F and the skin is golden and crisp. Baste the chicken every 20 minutes with the liquids in the pan. 

Once cooked, removed the pan from the oven and transfer the chicken with the rack and tent with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and carve, serve hot. 

Remove the vegetables from the roasting pan and place them in a serving platter, drizzle them with the juices from the pan. You can discard some of the fat from the juices and then use it over the vegetables.


Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Sahadis but all opinions expressed are solely my own.

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