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two roasted chicken breasts on blue patterned plate
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5 from 4 votes

Iraqi Grilled Chicken

This Iraqi Grilled Chicken, known as Djaj Bil-Bahar Il-Asfar, uses an intoxicating, feisty spice blend with origins from the ancient Silk Road.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Marinate Time8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 55 mins
Course: main dishes
Cuisine: Iraqi, Middle Eastern
Keyword: grilled chicken, iraqi grilled chicken
Servings: 4
Author: Kevin


  • 4 lb bone-in chicken whole, cut in half, quarters, or single pieces

Spice Rub

  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 6 dried arbol chiles stemmed
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp dried rose petals
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground sumac
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 cloves garlic mashed into a paste
  • 3 lemons separated
  • 3 tbsp olive oil


  • Heat the cardamom, chiles, cloves, coriander, cumin and peppercorns in a 10″ skillet over medium heat until seeds pop, 1-2 minutes. Allow to cool and transfer to a spice grinder (or coffee grinder) with the dried rose petals and grind. Transfer to a bowl and with a whisk stir in curry, cinnamon, sumac, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, fenugreek, salt, mashed garlic, the juice of one lemon (2-3 tablespoons) and olive oil. This will be a loose paste.
  • Rub the spice mix all over chicken pieces and press the spice mixture to coat and adhere. Lift the wings up, get under there and rub it in. Get every nook and cranny of that bird! Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Heat your grill to 400°F. Clean grill and oil the grates to prevent sticking.
  • Shake off excess spice rub or clumps from chicken. Give each chicken piece a good rub all over once again prior to roasting. Place chicken on grill skin side up and roast for 40-45 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken reads 165°F.
  • Juice second lemon and mix with 1/4 cup water and remaining spice rub in bowl or bag used to marinate chicken in. Use this mixture to baste the chicken twice while roasting.
  • If outside starts to burn before chicken is cooked, move to cooler area of grill or tent with foil until done. Rest chicken 10 minutes and slice third lemon. Serve lemon slices with chicken.



Grilling Tips
Use indirect cooking if necessary.
If the skin is getting too dark for your liking, move the pieces over to the cooler side of the grill to finish cooking.
Use a cooking thermometer.
As mentioned earlier, bone-in chicken cooks much differently than boneless pieces. The bones helps to keep the meat juicy while it's cooking, but you will need to use a cooking thermometer to know for sure that the meat is cooked through.
Iraqi grilled chicken quarters are safe to eat when the internal temperature at the thickest portion reaches 163°F. You'll want to allow the meat to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. During that rest time, cooking will continue for a few minutes, bringing the internal temperature up to 165°F.
Recipe adapted from Saveur.


Calories: 475kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 688mg | Potassium: 609mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 516IU | Vitamin C: 53mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 5mg