tunisian chicken

this dish reminded me of the spicy chickpeas with ginger that i made recently – they both have a rich tomato and red pepper sauce which packs a real flavour punch. the chickpea version uses fresh ginger to great effect, with underlying flavours of garlic, cumin and coriander; this version uses cinnamon and cloves to add a rich spiciness plus pomegranate molasses which emphasises the rich fruity tomato flavours.

the recipe is based on this tunisian chicken recipe - i kept most of the ingredients as listed but adjusted the proportions to suit my taste (more tomatoes, red pepper added, extra spice, more pomegranate molasses and some fresh mint in addition to the coriander) and simplified the method. the result was great and this is a dish i’ll definitely make again.

tunisian chicken* (serves 2)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

chicken for two – i used the meat from 2 legs and 2 thighs, skin removed, taken off the bone and cut into bitesize pieces

1 onion, finely sliced             

1 red pepper, finely sliced

2 cloves of garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ teaspoon harissa paste, plus additional to taste

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon tablespoons of oil ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

a pinch of ground cloves

salt and freshly ground black pepper

400g tinned tomatoes

½ teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, plus extra to taste

a small handful of chopped coriander, stems and leaves

a small handful of chopped mint leaves

heat the oil over a medium high heat, add the onion and pepper and fry until they have softened and begun to take on a bit of colour. remove from the pan, add a little more oil and cook the chicken for 3-5 minutes, until the chicken is mostly cooked through (most of the pinkness in the meat will have gone).

return the onion/pepper mix to the pan and once it has started to sizzle again, add the garlic, harissa and spices plus a little salt and pepper. cook for a few minutes and then add the tomatoes (if using whole tomatoes, break them into chunks) and thyme. leave to simmer for c15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.

remove from the heat and stir in the pomegranate molasses and herbs. taste for seasoning and add extra salt, pepper, harissa, or pomegranate molasses as needed. serve with couscous or rice.

* based on a food52 recipe