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