Thursday, May 26, 2011

Harissa and Yogurt Chicken with Persian-spiced Pilaf

Sometimes you’re in the mood for Indian food or Italian food or Chinese food. The other day, I was in the mood for Donna Hay food. I’m not sure that even makes sense to me, but I’ll attempt to explain it. Donna Hay recipes are always full of interesting flavors, and the preparations are never too fussy. That was the kind of meal I wanted to make for dinner. In her book, Off the Shelf, there’s a dish called Persian-spiced pilaf with harissa-seared beef, and there’s another one called harissa and yogurt baked chicken. I swapped the chicken for the beef, and that was my dinner plan. You can buy harissa in a jar, but I almost always seem to have some that I’ve made in the refrigerator. I started making it a couple of years ago and figured out it’s a perfect condiment for baked sweet potato fries which is why I usually have some on hand. I make the version from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, and it’s smoky and just spicy enough. So, the chicken was marinated in a mixture of yogurt, harissa, cumin, and mint, and that was sure to be a good thing. The Persian-spiced pilaf brought cinnamon, cardamom, and saffron to the meal, and the spice aromas filled the kitchen and lingered through the house.

Although this recipe doesn’t require the chicken to be marinated in advance, I always feel like chicken for any dish should be seasoned several hours or the day before cooking. But, I forgot this time. I mixed the marinade as suggested with cornstarch, yogurt, harissa, shredded mint, and cumin, and spread it over the chicken pieces. It sat while the oven pre-heated. There was no need to worry since these were big flavors, and they found their way into the chicken without any problems. As the chicken roasted, the pilaf was made with basmati rice steamed in vegetable stock with a cinnamon stick, three green cardamom pods, and a pinch of saffron. You know you’re in for a good meal when it smells as good as this one did as it cooked.

This delivered exactly what I was craving both in terms of preparing it and eating it. The yogurt kept the chicken tender, the spices worked their magic, and my work in making the meal mostly involved sitting down with a book while the chicken roasted and the rice steamed. And, when are you not in the mood for a meal like that?



27 comments:

  1. So spicy and yummy looking! the type of food I like eating.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. Harissa is one of those things that I never think to make...but seriously, why not? This recipe sounds delicious! I love every component of it.

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  3. This sounds heavenly. I love harissa and combined with cumin this is an amazing combination.

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  4. This is totally my kind of food. There is this wonderful rose harissa that I buy that would be perfect for this.
    *kisses* HH

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  5. Hehe I totally understand what you mean about being in the mood for Donna Hay food! This looks delicious Lisa! :D

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  6. You made me giggle at your Donna Hay mood, I get in moods like that & as I adore Donna Hayes style, I'm often in Donna moods. This weekend I think I'm in early Jamie mood, way back when he did all that awesome comfort food cooking...., so chilly down here in Oz., I'm thinking of cooking all weekend :)

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  7. Oh yes, I do love it when the work involved means sitting down with a book. Thats the best sort of work :)

    This looks absolutely delish - I'm always looking for new things to do with rice, going to try this.

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  8. A Donna Hay mood sounds delish! The marinade is bursting with flavor!

    sweetlife

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  9. These are such marvelous flavors, Lisa, and the finished dish sounds and looks delicious.
    I love Donna Hay magazine, but know very little about the cookbooks. There are so many. Do you have a favorite?

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  10. Barbara: I only have two Donna Hay books: Off the Shelf and Flavors. I really like them both!

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  11. This looks so perfectly browned! What a great combination of flavours too!

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  12. Oh my...that marinade is beautiful...I love Harissa and have been meaning to try making it myself, but haven't gotten around to it yet. And now I am totally craving this meal ;)

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  13. I can smell the lingering aromas from here. Wow! Lisa that meal sounds fabulous!

    Thank you so much for sharing...

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  14. I can so understand to be in the mood for Donna Hay food! I have that a lot..lol.. Love this dish!

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  15. I love the marinade! The meal looks terrific!

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  16. Hey Lisa, I've been lurking lately but not commenting - baby is always on me so I can navigate the mouse, but not so easy to type. Anyway loving your recipes and I made this chicken for dinner last night. I can't believe I haven't marinated chicken in yogurt before! Roasted bone-in breast with skin on - so tasty! I didn't have stuff for the rice and oven was already on so roasted bell peppers cut in half sprinkled with breadcrumbs and feta.

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  17. i'm with you--marinating for a couple of hours makes a lot of difference! this is a great meal, lisa!

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  18. Looks scrumptious! I'll have to check out Lucque's recipe for harrisa. I've never made it but I sure do like it.

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  19. Donna Hay food always look so good, I wish I can eat them off the pages. Your chicken with pilaf meal makes me feel the same :)

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  20. Love everything about this combo of Persian rice and yoghurt chicken...

    having already shipped ALL my cookbooks home, I'm in severe deprivation, with only a couple of cooking magazines to help me out.

    I'm definitely opening Donna Hay's book the moment I get home..

    nice photos too, Lisa...

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  21. A terrific meal with wonderfully aromatic flavors!

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  22. This looks yummy....you have a lovely blog...I am having a giveaway in my blog..Y dont you check and join that
    http://yummytummy-aarthi.blogspot.com/2011/05/chocolate-recipe-and-chocolate.html

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  23. Love the flavors in this marinade! With 95 degrees here, I'm thinking on the grill is the way to go. The thought of turning the oven on right now is not happening

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  24. Lisa, what a beautiful meal...perfect combination of flavors and colors. Great pictures too! Hope you are having a great week :-)

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  25. What a wonderful sounding dish, but I confess the Harissa threw me with the Persian rice - two different culture foods that taste great together..

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  26. Yum, I would love to try this. Thought of making Harissa for some time.

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  27. I must tell you, your blog is like a goldmine. I keep finding new information and wonderful recipes and interesting topics. Thanks so much.

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