Tahini Chicken, Snowballs add zest to summer Shabbat

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For a summer Shabbat dinner or lunch that can be made ahead, I like to serve oven-fried chicken. It’s good warm, room temperature or even cold and can be easier to make than the regular variety. I coat the chicken pieces with tahini instead of egg for an earthy, nutty taste.

Tahini, or sesame seed paste, spread east from Persia with regional variations in pronunciation and spelling throughout the Near and Middle East and into Greece. Raw tahini refers to sesame seeds that have been hulled and ground without other ingredients. Raw tahini can be made with unroasted or roasted seeds. The roasted version is darker and can have a stronger flavor. Use either in the recipe below but be sure to stir well before measuring. For best results use unseasoned panko-style breadcrumbs, which are larger and flakier than regular breadcrumbs. Serve with a tangy, vinegar-based coleslaw or tomato or cucumber salad.

For a make-ahead dessert, try these frozen Snowballs. I used a non-dairy ice cream in this version since it followed the chicken. Swap out the mix-ins for those of your choice, such as chopped candies or fruit. You can roll the Snowballs in chopped nuts instead of coconut.

Tahini Chicken

Serves 6-8

oil spray

5 lbs. chicken parts on the bone (I use thighs)

3/4 cup tahini (sesame-seed paste)

1 1/4 cups very hot water

3 Tbs. lemon juice

2 cups plain panko-style bread crumbs

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. dried ground oregano

1/4 tsp. ground red pepper

lemon wedges, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking trays with oil. Skin chicken. Rinse and pat dry. Have ready two bowls. In one, mix tahini with water until smooth and then stir in lemon juice. In the other, mix breadcrumbs with seeds, salt, black pepper, cumin, oregano and red pepper. Dip chicken piece into tahini, coating chicken and letting excess fall back into bowl. Roll in breadcrumbs until covered, shaking off excess. Place on baking tray. Repeat with remaining pieces. Spray tops of chicken with oil. Bake for 25 minutes. Spray tops of chicken again (do not turn pieces over). Bake another 20-25 minutes or so until pieces are just cooked to the bone and browned. (Timing will depend on thickness and if it is white or dark meat.) Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over chicken.


Makes about 12

1 quart nondairy or regular vanilla ice cream

1 cup parve chocolate chips or other mix-in

1 cup sweetened coconut flakes or other mix-in

2 cups sweetened coconut flakes or chopped nuts

Chill a large metal bowl. Cover baking tray with waxed or parchment paper and put in freezer. Let ice cream stand for about 20 minutes until easy to scoop. Scoop ice cream into chilled bowl and mash with large spoon. Stir in chips and 1 cup coconut. Place remaining coconut on plate. Using a measuring cup or an ice cream scoop, scoop out 1⁄3 cup of ice cream and roll into coconut until covered. Place on prepared baking tray. (If ice cream becomes too soft to work with, place bowl in freezer for a few minutes and then continue.) Repeat. Return tray with Snowballs to freezer. When Snowballs are frozen, remove from tray, wrap in plastic and store in container in freezer. Remove from freezer and unwrap about 10-15 minutes before serving in bowls.

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Josie A.G. Shapiro. She blogs at www.clickblogappetit.com. Contact her at [email protected].

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].