harissa yoghurt chicken & vegetable couscous

harissachick

The 2 nights per week that my husband is not at work allow me to take a bit longer in the kitchen. Sunday and Monday evenings are when I do my meal prep for the following week and make sure my fridge and freezer are stocked. I also like to to take a bit more time making dinner on these nights. Being able to create something in the kitchen is one of the things that keep me sane so I really look forward to these evenings.

Saying that, this baked chicken dish is not complicated and I threw it together with what was in my fridge and pantry. I made a richly-flavoured marinade with yoghurt, spices and roast red capsicum, poured it over some chicken thighs and baked them for 20 minutes while I made the vegetable couscous. I used the roast capsicum you can find in jars in the supermarket. I always have a jar of these in my fridge – they are an easy and welcome addition to many salads, couscous, tagines, etc.

We had this delicious dish with a spinach salad and you could also add some flatbread if you wished.

harissa yoghurt chicken

  • 1c yoghurt
  • 1 roast red capsicum, peeled, deseeded
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice (or finely diced preserved lemon)
  • 1.5tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • coriander, see note*
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2tb olive oil

Preheat your oven to 200’C. Puree the yoghurt, capsicum, spices, lemon and salt in a blender or processor until smooth. Heat the olive oil in a pan over med-high heat and cook the chicken thighs, skin down, until the skin is golden. Transfer them to a baking dish leaving any remaining oil and rendered chicken fat in the pan. Pour over the yoghurt marinade and place in the oven for 20 minutes. (It may seem like a lot of sauce but any excess is delicious poured over the couscous.)

Meanwhile, using the fat left in the pan, sauté some vegetables of your choosing until golden and cooked through. Season well. For 6 portions,  I used..

  • 1 capsicum, sliced
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced
  • 1 spanish onion, sliced
  • handful of mushrooms, sliced
  • handful of green beans
  • handful of pine nuts (flaked almonds would also work well)

Then add 1 c of couscous and 2 c of water or stock, place a lid on the pan (or foil securely) and leave to cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove the lid, stir well, replace the lid and turn off the heat. Allow to finish steaming for a couple of minutes then fluff with a fork. Add some chopped parsley, coriander or spinach and some diced fresh date or some raisins if you wish.

Make It Easy On Yourself: blend the yoghurt marinade and dice the vegetables for the couscous the day before. And remember to keep a jar of roast capsicum in the fridge!

*Note: I also added some coriander stalks I had left from a previous dish. You could add a teaspoon of ground coriander or leave the coriander out entirely.

spice essentials and chicken with yoghurt, prunes and coriander

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I had a huge spring clean recently and culled my pantry with all the zeal of Martha Stewart on steroids. Amongst some forgotten treasures (ooh, chestnut cream!) and some obscure, barely used ingredients (asafoetida, anyone?), I was appalled by my stockpile of unused spices. Little jars and bags accumulated through the discovery of new dishes but which had sadly lost their magic and fragrance. So I threw out my dusty little collection and replaced them with fresh jars of the spices I use again and again.

My favourite ones are…

fennel seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, black pepper, smoked paprika, coriander seeds, star anise, ground cinnamon, whole nutmeg and cloves.

With these little lovelies, I can flavour Moroccan or Indian dishes, brew a pot of chai tea, make a Chinese master stock or enhance my baking.

Making use of 3 of my essentials, tonight’s dinner was deliciously spiced chicken in a fragrant broth.

Spiced Chicken, Yoghurt, Prunes, Coriander

  • 6 chicken thighs, preferably bone in, skin optional
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice of
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • a thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled
  • ½ bunch coriander, chopped
  • 1 tb olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced finely
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • a knob of butter
  • 1/3 c prunes or dates, chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, sliced into strips
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 2c chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½-1c yoghurt (or coconut cream)
  • 1/4 c toasted almonds or pine nuts

Blend the lemon, garlic, ginger and coriander to a paste in a food processor. Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a deep pot on medium heat. Add the onions, cover with a lid and cook until soft (about 10 minutes).

Add the butter, spices and a big pinch of salt and cook while stirring until fragrant. Push the onions to one side and add the chicken, skin side down. Cook the chicken thighs until golden brown. Turn over, season with salt and pepper and add the coriander paste and the stock. Stir well. Add the prunes (or dates), the capsicum and sweet potato. Simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes or until the sweet potato is cooked through and the chicken is tender. Turn the heat off and stir through the yoghurt.

Serve with fresh coriander, the toasted nuts and an extra dollop of yoghurt if desired.

Make it your own: add a tin of chickpeas when you add the yoghurt for a more robust meal and great leftovers.  I particularly like this dish with wholemeal couscous and wilted spinach but steamed brown rice, barley or quinoa would also be delicious. If you can’t find chicken thighs with the bone in, use marylands, drumsticks or a mix of thighs and drumsticks.