Here’s a very yummy recipe for Tunisian Chicken (or Chickpeas) with Cous Cous and Green Harissa Yogurt Sauce. It’s adaptable and can easily be made vegetarian. Carrots and onions are sautéed with garlic and ginger along with the warming spices of turmeric, cinnamon and coriander. Water and couscous are stirred in, then the browned chicken (or chickpeas ) is nestled in before the whole thing goes in the oven for 15 minutes. From start to finish this takes about 45 minutes – and it’s a true “one pot meal”.
Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to use it as a jumping off point for other flavor combinations. Full of earthy Middle Eastern flavor, it is easy to make, and it’s a new favorite around here. Make it with chicken, fish or lamb ….or keep it totally vegetarian adding chickpeas or cauliflower. If you are not a cous cous fan, another option is to use quinoa.
The Green Harissa Yogurt Sauce is really delicious and simple to make, just blend up the ingredients- which I do while this is baking in the oven. The leftover sauce is great spooned over wraps and pita sandwiches the next day.
The vegetarian version above is equally good….
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- 1 ½ lbs boneless chicken thigh meat (or substitute 3 cups cooked garbanzos, 2 cans drained, or a combination of both. Vegetarians could also add cauliflower.)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- Generous pinch salt and chili powder
- 3 medium carrots
- 1 large onion
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger-minced
- 5 garlic cloves- rough chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon caraway seeds, optional but very tasty
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 can diced tomatoes ( fire roasted if possble)
- ¼ cup dried apricots, diced (or sub raisins)
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 ½ cups cous cous ( or sub cup quinoa- see notes )
- GREEN HARISSA YOGURT SAUCE
- 1 cup plain yogurt (don't use zero fat, or if you do, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil)
- 1 bunch Italian parsley, small stems OK ( or sub cilantro)
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ to 1 whole jalapeño
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon coriander (or cumin)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Optional garnish: fresh mint leaves, toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts
- Pre heat oven to 400F
- In a large heavy bottom oven proof skillet or dutch oven heat to the oil. Cut chicken into bigger bite-sized pieces, 1-2 inches, and generously salt and pepper and sprinkle with chili powder (If using chickpeas, see notes). Sear chicken 5 minutes on each side, turning the heat down to medium if necessary until it's golden brown. While chicken is searing, prep the veggies.
- Slice the carrots at diagonal ⅓ inch thick. Slice the onions into rings ⅓ inch think, then cut into half moons. Rough chop the garlic, and finely mince the ginger. Chop the apricots.
- When Chicken is golden, remove it from the pan, and set it aside on a plate (it will finish cooking in the oven).
- Add the onions and carrots to the same pan (adding a tad more oil if need be) and cook over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring very often. Turn heat to medium and cook for just a few more minutes until onions become tender.
- Add the garlic and ginger, sauté for 2 minutes. Add the spices, and sauté for one minute to bring our their flavor.
- Add the salt, sugar, undrained tomatoes, dried apricots and water. Bring to a simmer and stir a bit. Once it's simmering, stir in the cous cous. Nestle in the chicken cover and place in the oven for 15 minutes.
- While its baking, make the Green Harissa Yogurt Sauce.
- Just place all ingredients in a food processor or blender, and blend until combined. It doesn't need to be smooth, just uniformly blended. Place in a bowl.
- After 15 minutes, pull from the oven. If you want the chicken to darken up a bit, broil for a minute or two. Scatter with the mint leaves and serve with Green Harissa Yogurt Sauce.
- NOTES: If subbing chickpeas, drain them first. For the fastest preparation, place them directly over the cous cous to heat in the oven,sprinkle with a little salt. OR for added flavor, give chickpeas a quick fry: drain, pat dry and sauté with olive oil for 3-4 minutes, then sprinkle with salt, pepper and a little chili powder or cumin, sautéing for just another minute. To keep them crispy, add them to the cous cous after it comes out of the oven. Another option is to add cauliflower, same preparation.
- If subbing quinoa: Add 1 cup rinsed quinoa and 1 ¾ Cups water. Extend cooking time by 10 minutes.