Staging the scene for flavours to shine!

In Levantine Cuisine, it is very common to create layered platters. From upside-downs (Maloubeh) to Fattehs and everything in between, it seems the Levantines are all for layered flavours.

In cooking and preparing foods, layering is very similar to staging. Where each aspect of the scene has its own character and complexities. Once all the characters come together the final outcome is a medley of deeply flavoured food. Layering in that sense requires an artistic touch, and an ability to understand textures and flavours. It requires a certain imagination and creativity where you can taste the final outcome, way before you cook it. Because when you are using many ingredients, aromatics and sauces in any one dish, there is always a risk of flavours overpowering each other, or the risk of simply having too much!

Therefore, I find Fatteh to be at the top of food mastery in Levantine cuisine. If you can deliberate a platter of 3 or more layers in which at least 2 different sauces are present, while keeping the integrity of each ingredient and serving up an exquisitely delicious plate of food – that is not in anyway too much or overpowered – then you have mastered cooking! That is what cooking is all about.

There are many types of “Fatteh” in Arabic cuisine, all of which are very different and equally succulent. It is usually served as an appetisers, although it can be had as a main dish on its own. The layers usually contain a type of carbs – such as bread, rice or pasta – while it can also contain both bread and rice in the same preparation.  Then comes the proteins, pulses, chicken, or meat and nuts. The 2 most commonly used sauces in this preparation are tomato sauce, and a garlic infused yoghurt sauce. However other sauces can be used, such as the Tahini Sauce on this link. Some Fattehs rely on the use of vegetables for their flavour, such as Fattet Makdoos (eggplants) & Fattet Hummus (chickpeas)

Here is one Fatteh dish from the Classic Palestinian Cuisine, that looks appetising, tastes Divine and is very nutritious. When you make Fattet Djaj, you can rest assured that the whole family will enjoy it. The best thing of all is that this Fatteh is one of the best ways to use leftover roast chicken! What more can any one expect? Give it a try, you will be happy you did.


Serves: 6
  • 1 whole Chicken, roasted and meat pulled off the bones
  • 3 pita bread rounds cut into bite size squares, toasted or deep fried until golden & drained
  • 2 cups cooked rice (cooked with chicken broth)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 small clove garlic extra
  • 1 Kg yoghurt
  • DS Himalayan Pink Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup toasted nuts (pine nuts, almonds & pistachio)
  • 1 handful finely chopped parsley for garnish
  • 2 tbsp DS Premium Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

There are many recipes to roast chicken, for this recipe you can simply:

Rinse the chicken, cleaning the insides, pat dry, rub with lemon and salt.

Place on baking dish. Crush 5 cloves of garlic then rub chicken with the crushed garlic. Top with a dash of balsamic vinegar, black pepper and 2 tsp DS Organic Meat & Pultry Spice Mix then drizzle with my beautiful olive oil. Roast in 450 F oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour. Baste the chicken with the pan juices every 15 minutes after the first 20 minutes so to stay moist. Add water to the pan if it starts drying out.

To know if the chicken is done check the thighs they should run out of juices, and the meat should easily separate from the bone. Or an instant meat thermometer, should register 165-170 F, when inserted in the flesh between the thigh and the body cavity without touching the bone or the bottom of the pan.


Once done set aside and when cool enough to handle separate pull the meat off the bones in fairly big pieces. Discard the bones and skin and set the meat aside. You can use the pan juices as stock to prepare the rice.


Prepare garlic-yogurt sauce

Crush 1 small clove of garlic and add it to the yogurt then season with the salt & black pepper to taste.

Mix all well and set aside, or keep in the fridge until ready to use.

To serve start creating the layers in your serving dish:

First, place the fried bread at the bottom of serving dish in one even layer. Top with the cooked rice in another even layer. Add the garlic-infused yogurt sauce and spread over the layer of rice, then top with the pulled chicken pieces followed with the toasted nuts then drizzle lightly with the olive oil. Sprinkle all with finely chopped and parsley.

Serve warm or cold.


This recipe is from the repertoire of over 280 recipes in my book Plated Heirlooms. The book contains recipes from all sections of the Palestinian cuisine, starting with Mooneh (pantry recipes) to dessert and everything in between. Plated Heirlooms is a documentation of recipes and cuisine rationale as well as the compiled story of the cuisine.

All Plated Heirlooms recipes come with background information and thorough descriptions that in the end tie up with the rest of the book’s narrative to explain to you the formation and makings of Palestinian cuisine.

You can order “Plated Heirlooms” here and we will ship it to you anywhere in the world.


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