You can buy pre-made condiments and marinades from your local grocery or gourmet food store, but I love to start from scratch and make my own, especially when it comes to harissa and chermoula pastes. The roasting and grinding of the spices make the house smell amazing and aromatic, and the outcome is so rewarding. This recipe was inspired by my wonderful food friend, Ursula Nairn. She’s the unsung hero in all of my television cooking shows ... always behind the scenes working her magic.
12–14 plump skinless, boneless chicken thigh fillets (free-range or organic, if you can), excess fat trimmed
drizzle of olive oil
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
3 big red capsicums (peppers), roasted, peeled and seeded
1 long red chilli, chopped (extra if you like it hot)
2 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon sugar
80 ml (2½ fl oz/1/3 cup) vegetable oil
½ cup harissa (see left)
½ cup chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
¼ cup chopped mint
¾ cup chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves and stems
3 garlic cloves, chopped
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ of a preserved lemon (I use the skin and flesh) (see Note)
60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) vegetable oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch of sugar
pinch of sea salt
juice of ½ a lemon
5 mint leaves, thinly sliced
130 g (4½ oz/½ cup) thick Greek-style yoghurt
TO MAKE THE HARISSA
Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small dry frying pan over medium heat for a few minutes, or until fragrant. Be careful not to burn them or they will taste bitter.
Transfer to a mortar and grind with a pestle until very fine.
Blitz the pounded spices, capsicum, chilli, garlic, salt and sugar in a blender until smooth.
Leave the blender running and slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil until the mixture is thick
and luscious. Taste to test the chilli factor and seasoning, and adjust if needed.
Spoonsome of the harissa into a bowl, leaving a ½ cup of it in the blender for the chermoula marinade, and refrigerate until needed.
TO MAKE THE CHERMOULA MARINADE
Add all of the marinade ingredients to the blender with the harissa and blitz until smooth.
Taste and add salt only if it needs it (remember that the preserved lemon is already salty).
TO MAKE THE MINTED YOGHURT
Combine the sugar, salt and lemon juice in a small bowl, then stir in the mint and yoghurt.
Refrigerate until needed.
TO PREPARE AND SERVE
Put the chicken in a large bowl, add the marinade and toss to coat well.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the chicken in two
batches, seal on both sides and then put in a large roasting tray.
Roast for 20–25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.
Serve the chicken on a platter with the harissa and minted yoghurt so everyone can
help themselves. Delicious with the roasted veg couscous, quinoa tabouleh or roasted sweet potatoes and parsnips.
NOTE You can replace the preserved lemon with the zest, juice and flesh of 1 lemon
(but don’t use the white pith, it will make it bitter). Just remember to add a couple of
pinches of salt to the marinade to compensate for the saltiness of the preserved lemon.
Recipe and images from Eat In by Anna Gare, published by Murdoch books, $39.99.
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