spiced chicken

spiced chickenHarry Weir

This is based on a dish enjoyed in Marrakech a few years ago. We ate on the roof of our riad, the sounds of the city far below. The north Africans combine spices and herbs like no other culture. Summer on a plate


  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed
  • 4 cloves Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 chicken breasts, skin on
  • 4 lemons
  • 1 coffee cup bulgur wheat
  • 6 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 500g tomatoes, deseeded and cubed
  • 3 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • 150ml tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped and mashed with a little salt
  • 1 tube harissa


  1. Heat a dry frying pan and, when hot, add the cumin and coriander seeds and cloves. Toss so they are evenly coloured, remove from the heat and add four tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. Transfer to a bowl, add the chicken, the juice from one of the lemons and season. Toss for about five minutes, massaging the chicken breasts gently (this helps encourage them to take in the marinade) and set aside, overnight in the fridge if possible.
  3. Soak the bulgur wheat in several changes of water and then transfer to a salad bowl large enough to take the other ingredients. Add the parsley, mint, tomatoes, spring onions and ground cumin.
  4. Whisk in enough olive oil to moisten everything and season with salt and pepper and the juice from the second lemon.
  5. Whisk the tahini with the juice from the third lemon, the garlic and salt and add warm water until it is runny. Season with salt if necessary.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220ºC/gas mark 6. Rub the marinade off the chicken, season generously with salt and pepper and lightly colour in a hot frying pan. Transfer to the middle of the oven, skin side up, and roast for 10-15 minutes, remove and allow to rest for five minutes. Serve with the tabbouleh, tahini sauce, a quarter of the remaining lemon and a squeeze of harissa, warning your guests its chilli kick should not be underestimated.

Tip: Toasting spices is always a good idea, it beefs up the flavour no end.


Recipe creditHugo Arnold

Photography credit: Harry Weir