Ariel Shalit/AP Photo


Fragrant chicken with figs.

There’s a special quiet that descends on Jewish communities around the world on Yom Kippur, a feeling profoundly different from the noisy tumult of everyday life. Also known as the Day of Judgment, this holiest day of the year is characterized by prayer and fasting; the very last chance to atone for transgressions in the previous year, before the faithful's fate is sealed in the Big Book for the year to come.

The final meal before the fast is eaten before sundown. And because it’s a long fast (sundown to sundown plus one hour, this year Oct. 1-2), it’s always a challenge to design a menu that will be festive and satisfying without causing indigestion or thirst.

Fragrant Chicken With Figs

• Serves 6

INGREDIENTS: One l.5 to 2-kg chicken, whole or cut into pieces 12 dried figs 375 ml (1-1/2 cups) muscatel wine 50 ml (4 tbsp) honey 5 ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon 5 ml (1 tsp) ground coriander 5 ml (1 tsp) salt or to taste 2 ml ( 1/2 tsp) pepper 2 bay leaves

PROCEDURE: Rinse the chicken and place in a bowl. Pour boiling water over to cover and let stand for a 2-3 minutes. Using a sharp knife, scrape the skin to remove excess surface fat. Pat dry and set aside. Rinse the figs and snip off the tops with scissors. Place chicken and figs in a single layer in a large roasting pan. In a small bowl, mix wine, honey, cinnamon, coriander, salt and pepper and bay leaves and pour over chicken. Cover and marinate for 1-4 hours in the refrigerator, turning occasionally. Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F.) Roast chicken, basting and turning occasionally, until it is tender and brown, about 1 hour. Serve chicken and figs with a little pan juice poured on top.