Chicken cooked on coals Aleppo-style, with crushed walnuts, lemon zest and mint


This is another post from The Cookbook Guru’s  feature cookbook for this month, Saha, by Greg and Lucy Malouf.

As the name of this recipe indicates, it should be cooked on coals, ie, a solid fuel barbecue or an open fire.  Greg and Lucy suggest a Weber would be ideal.  They also suggest a ridged griddle pan would work (or the grill on a gas barbeque), but who would want to clean the marinade off a griddle pan after a nice dinner?

Greg and Lucy also recommended a grill basket to keep the chicken flat (and I also suggest, in one piece) so we bought one from Barbecues Galore.  It was a god send.  One flick of the wrist and the chicken was turned.

We have never cooked on coals so we really didn’t know what we were doing.   I had to make an emergency call to Maus’ nephew to find out how to light the charcoal and for a few solid fuel barbecuing tips.

Maus and I have had great plans to make a solid fuel barbecue (more on that later) so we brought forward our plans just for this recipe.  Our barbecue worked, but we think the grill is too far away from the coals.  This poor chicken took forever to cook – it was more a slow bake than a char grill.  We started out sitting by our little barbecue with beer and nuts but it soon got too cold for Maus so she went inside and left me watching the baby.  A significant amount of time later, it got too cold for me too, so our little chicken was left all alone to cook by itself.

In the end the chicken was lovely but probably would have been better with more of a char grilled taste.  We are going to lift the fire and try it, again, tonight.



  • 2 x 500g chickens.  I used 1 x 900g chicken.  They are much cheaper here than the little 500g chickens and perfect for this type of recipe.  As always, think of the chicken, and if possible, use free range.
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed with ½ tsp salt (a mortar and pestle is perfect for this)
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 50g walnuts, toasted and chopped* (I rubbed the skins off in a old tea towel after I toasted them)
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped*
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, finely chopped*
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves, finely chopped*
  • 50mls olive oil
  • sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper

*  I didn’t bother chopping these ingredients.  I put everything into my Vitamix and blended it on very low.  It worked perfectly.  Everything was blended but there was still texture in the marinade.  As everything is supposed to be finely chopped, I assumed that was what was called for.


  1. Cut the chicken(s) on either side of the back bone and splay it (them) open.
  2. Mix all the marinade ingredients (except the salt and pepper) together.
  3. Pour the marinade onto the chicken and rub well. Set aside for 30 minutes or so. I made the marinade in the morning and marinated the chicken for about 8 hours just because it was convenient for me to do it that way.
  4. When your barbecue is glowing, put your chicken in a grill basket and cook the chicken.  The book says 10 minutes or so.  As you would appreciate, ours took much longer.  Turn the chicken from time to time so it doesn’t burn.
  5. When the chicken is cooked, season with salt and pepper.

15 thoughts on “Chicken cooked on coals Aleppo-style, with crushed walnuts, lemon zest and mint

  1. Pingback: In My Kitchen – November 2014 | Passion Fruit Garden

  2. I’ve a gas grill and, frankly, miss the flavor that charcoal gives the meat. With a dish like this one — and that marinade!! — a real fire is a necessity. That char says it all. Yum!
    Your grill basket brought back memories, Glenda. Dad used 1 or 2 virtually every Summer Sunday when I was a boy. 🙂

  3. Sounds yummy. I have heaps of natural charcoal here that might be useful for your barbecue. If you like, I will fill a bag for you.
    We both enjoyed Sunday very much.

  4. It might have taken a while but that chicken sure looks good to me. When I was a kid, we always cooked over charcoal because the gas grills hadn’t become popular – hmmm, now that I think of it, they might not have even been invented! We’ve got a gas grill now but I’ll tell you there’s nothing like the taste of food cooked over coals. The gas grill is fine & very convenient but it just doesn’t have the same flavor.

  5. Dinner grilled over hot charcoal is one of my summertime favourites. Once you get the hang of how many coals to use ( more heatbeads, more heat) and how close to put the food you’ll be hooked. Love the marinade ingredients.

  6. looks and sounds amazing! I can only imagine the fun you can have grilling on your bbq with the grill basket. I love the idea of the flavour combination too.

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