Dabble in North African cuisine in the most delicious, comforting way possible. Try this Harissa Chicken with Rice and thank me later. You’ll love it!
I survived my Culinary Fundamentals 3 final exam. This is the hardest class in the program, and the final exam was brutal: Prepare 4 dishes with 4 different proteins made 4 different ways with 4 sides and 4 sauces in a 6-hour window. (If it can amaze and impress the chefs, too, that is recommended).
I’ll go into more details in my June Newsletter, but for now, one of the recipes I made and presented was Harissa Chicken. It might sound strange or weird, but it’s actually so tasty that I felt compelled to post it ASAP.
I wish I could make it for you so you could try it and know how good it is. But here’s a preview.
All the flavor and sass in this recipe comes from Harissa paste (pronounced ha-RISS-uh).
Harissa is a North African paste made of dried chiles (rehydrated) and fresh herbs, citrus juice, other spices, possibly a tomato product, whatever you want to throw in there. It can be mild or super spicy depending on what you use.
I made the Harissa paste from scratch and you can, too. It’s super simple, especially if you have a food processor or blender. Here’s a quick video showing you how easily it comes together.
You can also buy harissa online, at Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods among other places.
It’s as easy as browning some chicken and carrots in a pan, adding harissa and water, and letting it simmer. I also added dates for a bit of sweetness.
Serve with roasted chickpeas, rice (make it fresh or use leftover), and a simple yogurt sauce. I used Labneh, a middle eastern dairy product that lands somewhere between cheese and strained yogurt. I mixed it with a bit of vinegar and salt for brightness.
If Harissa Chicken sounds complicated, don’t be fooled. It’s EASY. And it’s delicious. TRY IT. You’ll thank me later, I’m sure of it!
Harissa Chicken with Rice Recipe
For the rice:
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup basmati rice
For the chicken:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 4 carrots peeled, cut into 2' long matchsticks
- 1-2 tablespoons red harissa paste homemade or store bought
- 4 dates pitted, roughly chopped
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup labneh cheese or Greek yogurt
- 2-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- Minced fresh parsley for garnish
To make the rice:
- Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add rice and salt to taste (I like 1 teaspoon). Stir and return to a boil. Boil uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Using a fine mesh strainer, drain rice and rinse with hot water. Return to the pot and cover to keep warm.
To make the chicken:
- In a large non-stick pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken and carrots and cook until lightly browned, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add dates, 1/2 cup of water and harissa paste to taste. Cook until the liquid has thickened and the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 2 to 4 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper (I like 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper).
- In a medium bowl, combine the labneh, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Taste and add more vinegar if desired.
- To serve, add rice and chicken with carrots to bowls. Top with some of the labneh mixture and garnish with parsley.