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Unleash Your Inner Master Chef with This Arabic-Inspired Orange Spiced Roast Turkey Recipe

That Arabic spiced rub really elevates the flavour so get ready to tie up those festive aprons…

Turkey is undoubtedly the king of splendid holiday dishes and giving it a signature Middle Eastern flair will undoubtedly help you curate the most exceptional holiday feast for your family and friends. This delicious, succulent and moist turkey recipe starring a wonderful Arabic spiced rub comes from Cooking with Zahra, a cookery book by Zahra Abdalla. Brined with an aromatic mixture of orange and lemon slices, sage and thyme, the turkey is then slow-cooked to a T. For the perfect accompaniment, serve with the applauded culinary personality and author’s apricot and fig stuffing.

Serves 8–10:

  • 5 kg turkey
  • 1⁄2 cup olive oil
  • 4 tsp seven spice powder
  • 5 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper powder
  • 2 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder, a pinch of nutmeg powder
  • 1⁄2 cup butter
  • 1 large orange, halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6–8 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into large chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 3 onions, quartered
  • 2 garlic bulbs
  • 4 cups water or chicken stock


  • 1⁄4 cup turkey fat
  • 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup turkey dripping, fat separated
  • 1 cup chicken stock salt freshly ground black pepper a sprig of rosemary
  1. Brine the turkey in the fridge for 24 hours, this process will tenderise and give your bird a wonderful citrus flavour base. Pat dry your turkey thoroughly with a paper towel.
  2. In a small bowl, prepare the marinade by combining olive oil, seven spice powder, salt, black pepper powder, white pepper powder, cinnamon powder and nutmeg. Rub the mix all over the turkey to thoroughly season the bird.
  3. Using your fingers, slowly peel the skin covering the turkey’s breast and spoon the butter between the skin and breast. Stuff the stomach of the turkey with one orange, one bay leaf, four sprigs of rosemary, some chopped celery, carrots, onions and garlic bulbs.
  4. Preheat the oven to the maximum temperature. Place the turkey on a large roasting tray. Surround with the remaining chopped celery, carrots, onions, garlic, rosemary, and remaining giblets and neck. Cover with a tinfoil, place in the oven on the lowest rack, and roast at maximum heat for 20 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 160°C and continue roasting for about three hours and baste the bird every 20–30 minutes to ensure the meat does not dry. Remove the foil in the last 45 minutes to brown the turkey.
  5. When the turkey is cooked, remove from roasting pan on to serving plate, cover with tinfoil and allow to rest for 15–20 minutes before serving.
  6. To make the gravy, transfer the roasting pan to the stove and remove the giblets and the neck. Add 1 cup of water or stock and on medium heat, bring the liquid to a simmer, scrapping the bits from the side of the roasting pan.
  7. Strain the liquid into a measuring cup and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This process will allow the fat to separate and harden, making it easier to skim off the fat.
  8. In a small saucepan, add about 1⁄4 cup of the fat, heat on medium–high heat and whisk in the flour until light brown to make a roux. Add the turkey dripping and one cup of chicken stock. Whisk ingredients until sauce thickens. Add a bit more chicken stock if you want the gravy to be thinner. Season with salt and pepper.

Weigh the bird to determine cooking time (approximately 20 minutes for every 500g).

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