Monday, 10 May 2010

Holey Cluck!

This is the kind of dish that makes garlic breath totally worth it, to say nothing of the garlic burps!

What? I never pretended to be a classy lady.

There are a few flavour combinations that never fail to excite me, and they're usually indigenous to places a lot warmer than the British Isles and with considerably more frightening insects. Thai, Indian, Mexican, North African and Middle Eastern cuisines are all charactarisd by the generous amounts of fresh mint, citrus and coriander to foil the firey chillies and smoky spices that are essential parts of their culinary identity.
As much as I love European foods, there's something so lively and almost celebratory about a plate of food filled with such contrasting colours, textures and flavours. It scratched a culinary itch that meat and two veg never could.

Moroccan food, with the characteristic combinations of harissa spices, contrasted with creamy tahini dressings, fruit and cooling salads is something I've loved since I can remember and never gets old. Guaranteed to give you serious garlic breath, it's the kind of thing that makes your whole mouth feel like it's on vacation, whatever the weather outside.

This dish isn't strictly Moroccan, more like a Moroccan who's having an affair with a Lebanse with loose morals. It's fairly quick and definitely easy to make, with the harissa being the most time-consuming part. I usually make about 4 times this much and just keep it in a jar in the fridge under a little olive oil.

Harissa-Spiced Chicken with Cool Rice Salad 
Serves 2, takes 1 hour (ish)

2 each, chicken thighs and drumsticks (or if you're cooking for Cauldron Boy, 2 breasts;-) Skin removed, bones left in.
1 cup plain yoghurt

For the harissa:
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
1 fresh red chilli, sliced
2 tsp red chilli flakes
2 tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin seeds
1tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp sea salt

For the salad:
1 cup (240ml by volume) basmati rice
1 1/2 cups water
7cm (3") cucumber (English/hothouse) de-seeded and diced small
1/2 cup pistachios, blanched for 15 minutes and leathery skins removed, roughly chopped
 4 radishes, diced finely
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
1 sm clove garlic, crushed
2-3 (depending on size) sprigs of fresh mint, leaves pulled and finely chopped
Juice of one fresh lemon
1 tbsp olive oil

Tahini sauce:
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
2 tbsp tahini
1 small clove, garlic, finely grated
2 pinches, salt

To serve:
coriander (cilantro) leaves
sliced pickled onions or gherkins

To make the harissa, put all of the ingredients into a pestle and mortar and grind well to form a semi-smooth paste.
Use a very sharp knife to cut lots of slits in diagonal rows all over the chicken. This will help the marinade penetrate the meat well and will look attractive when served.
Mix the yoghurt with the harissa and then add the chicken pieces, rubbing the marinade well into all the cuts, nooks and crannies then put the dish off to the side at room temperature while you do the rest.

Rinse the rice really well until the water runs clear, then in a small saucepan, add just shy of 1 1/2 cups of water and a little salt and bring to the boil. As soon as bubbles start to break on the surface, turn the heat almost all the way down, cover the pan and leave the rice to cook for 6-7 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed.
When the rice is cooked, tip it into a bowl and drizzle over with the tbsp of olive oil and 1/2 of the lemon juice. Fluff well with a fork to coat each grain and prevent sticking. Set to the side in a cool spot until no longer steaming, then pop in the fridge while you prep the veggies for the rest of the salad.

To cook the chicken, put your grill on HIGH and put the grill pan underneath to allow it to get as hot as possible. When stonking hot, place the chicken on the rack of your grill pan and put under the grill, closing the door and leaving to cook for 7-8 minutes, until black sports start to appear, then turn over and give it another 5 minutes. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving.

To make the tahini dressing, simply stir the ingredients together well until smooth. If it's not loose enough for you, add a little more lemon juice.

Serve the chicken with the rice salad and a big spoonful of the tahini sauce. Scatter with the coriander leaves and your choice of pickled veggies.
I'm terribly sorry about the appalling photos, they're even worse than usual I'm afraid...Moroccan Style Chicken on FoodistaMoroccan Style Chicken on Foodista Moroccan Style Chicken


  1. Oooh, this looks fantastic. I'm interested in trying the harissa. I've never had it but keep hearing about it. And you can never have too much garlic, because garlic breath (and burps!) are totally worth it. I've made 44-clove garlic soup a few times, and I always add more than 44 cloves. My breath isn't exactly lovely when I do this but the flavor is worth it. :P

    Glad I made your morning, by the way! :)

  2. My philosophy when it comes to garlic is, just make sure that whoever you plan to snog later eats the same food as you!

    I think it's fantastic that you have a food blog at your age! I don't think the internet had even been invented when I was 16 ;-)
    Your blog is brilliant!

  3. HI Emily

    I know I wasn't very clear on the blog, but I gave you three awards....the happy 101; circle of friends; and I love yoru blog

    thanks so much for being in my circle of freinds

  4. Dennis! No, I didn't realize that! I'm blushing all over the place and am really honoured. I'll be sure to pass them on responsibly :-)

  5. Garlic rocks! This dish rocks! I love these flavors, it is like a flavor explosion for your senses. Love it. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I can't wait to try this. Another brilliant recipe. Thank you. My mouth is watering just looking at the picture. I wouldn't mind but I've only just eaten.

  7. Thanks Girls :-) It's almost a bit of a cheat really. If you do give it a try, let me know how it turns out for you!

  8. Hey Girl Foodie, this sounds awesome. Did you know part of my family is Algerian? So Moroccan & Algerian cuisine is my favorite (almost, probably). It's also the first food I learned how to cook. Yes, I grew up in a half Southern American/half Algerian kitchen...
    I love that you made your own harissa by the way.

  9. This chicken sounds amazing with harissa! An excellent meal!

  10. Stella, did you see the ingredients list? :-)