On Tu B’Shevat (the New Year for trees) it’s customary to eat fruit—particularly the seven species for which Israel is praised: wheat, barley, figs, dates, grapes, olives, pomegranates. This recipe is a way to incorporate some of those fruits into a full meal. The chicken is cooked on a base of barley (a great alternative to rice), and the marinade includes date honey (silan) and za'atar, a wonderfully aromatic Israeli spice blend. The pomegranate seeds in the garnish (together with the parsley) give the dish a burst of freshness.

I’ve served it with dried apricots, not one of the seven species (but a fruit nonetheless), but you could replace them with golden raisins (grapes). Alternatively, you could mix some golden raisins through the barley before cooking, which would add some additional sweetness.


  • 2 tbsp za’atar
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp silan (date honey), divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 6-8 chicken thighs
  • 1 ¾ cups pearl barley
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • Black pepper
  • 8-10 dried apricots, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds


  1. Make a paste out of the za’atar, sumac, paprika, salt, olive oil, lemon juice, 1 tbsp. silan, and crushed garlic in a small bowl. Smear the paste all over the chicken (both sides, and under the skin). Place chicken in a zip-top bag and marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  3. Pour the barley into a baking dish (ceramic or glass preferred). Mix through the finely diced onion. Pour the chicken stock over the barley. Carefully place the chicken pieces on top of the barley. Crack some black pepper across the chicken pieces.
  4. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and drizzle the remaining tbsp of silan over the chicken pieces. Increase heat to 450°F (230°C) and bake for another 15-20 minutes, to crisp the chicken skin and get a great crust on the barley.
  5. Serve family style on a platter, or individually plated. Garnish with fresh parsley, pomegranate seeds, and sliced dried apricots.

Serves 6-8