Harissa chicken

Pan-grilled chicken with gravy, in a flavourful Harissa spice mix

It’s that time of year, when summer is here. My favourite part being that I get to visit my family and home in India. Spending the earlier part in New Delhi, gorging on the city’s much talked about and famous North Indian cuisine, and historic street foods. We certainly had the damn guts to do it during the hottest days of the year, along with darn humidity which comes along during this time of year. Well, the sojourn in North India is over and we’re back in my hometown or rather the cosmopolitan, energetic and bustling capital of Western India, which is Mumbai. Back to the same familiar atmosphere and feel of my parents home, which I love and always miss so much. Back to the familiar and delicious tastes and flavours of my mom’s cooking.

This evening is slightly different because I’m back in the kitchen to cook dinner today for everyone. I’ve chosen to make chicken cooked in a Harissa paste. Harissa is a spicy and aromatic chile paste that’s a widely used staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. Harissa recipes vary between countries and regions, but a standard version includes a blend of hot chile peppers, garlic, olive oil and spices, like cumin, coriander and fennel. But in my case, since I have to cater to the delicate palate of my little one and my dad, I toned down the heat. I’ve used Kashmiri red chilies, which are mild in heat and impart a deep red colour to the dish. Along with smoked paprika to add a smokiness and depth to the dish. A simple yet flavoursome blend of spices and condiments, which act as a marinade for the chicken and also lend a delicious taste to the gravy or sauce. A succulent dish, which can be eaten with rice, cous-cous, vegetables, or simply mopped up with some local bread and kachoomber. P.S. Good ol kachoomber, a favourite accompaniment with all our meals, is a simple salad of onions, cucumbers, tomatoes and lemon juice. Voila! Enjoy 😊


Ingredients :

6 chicken pieces with bone in, drumsticks and thighs

Chicken stock – 1 cup

For the Harissa paste :

3 dried whole Kashmiri chillies. Soak in water.

5 garlic cloves

1 onion, chopped

1/2  tsp. cumin seeds

1/2 tsp. fennel seeds

1 tbsp. coriander seeds

1/2 tsp. roasted cumin powder

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

A pinch turmeric powder

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt, to taste

To make Harissa paste :

In a pan, heat a tbsp. of olive oil. Add onions and sauté till pink. Add garlic, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds. Add the whole red chillies. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, add to small food processor. Add salt, vinegar, roasted cumin powder, smoked paprika powder and turmeric. Add remaining tbsp. of olive oil. Blend to a smooth paste.

Marinate the chicken in the harissa paste for 6-8 hours.

In a large sauté pan, stir-fry the chicken on high heat for few minutes till slightly brown. Add a couple tablespoons water, cover, lower heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes till chicken is cooked and tender.

Add the chicken stock, bring to boil and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Season with salt.

Add freshly squeezed lemon juice and serve hot.

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