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Recipe: Rose Harissa Chicken

Whilst doing all of this research on roses and street food, I had to try this recipe. The rich mixture of Tunisian spices, with the mildly underpinning of rose petals is alluring. With a little extra attention to the spice mixture and marinade, you will come with an unforgettable dinner.

This recipe has been proven out a few different ways to dial it in. First, I use only chicken thighs, since they are such a rich and juicy cut. Second, I create the harissa from scratch - yes, it takes more time, but it is a thousand times worth it. Third, prep one day in advance - season the chicken, allow it to marinade. Cook the dry spice and allow it to mature. Prep your sides.

For this recipe, I made a wonderful Red Grape, Cherry, Arugala and Spinach salad with Feta. Also made a colorful Pepper Medley. Sites pair this dish with a red peppery wine.


Harissa Dry Spice - expect to double or triple depending on how much you are making, for 8 pounds of chicken thighs, I tripled the recipe - also remember that you'll need 1/2 for dry and 1/2 for an eventual harissa paste

12 dried, smoked chile peppers

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

2 tablespoons caraway seeds

1 teaspoon multi-colored whole peppercorns

2 tablespoons smoked paprika - if you can't find it smoked, you can bloom it for a few minutes

1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon smoked salt - same as paprika, but don't bloom it too long

2 teaspoon dried parsley - for color, I found saving 1/2 for after you finish the recipe

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Start a cast iron skillet over low heat while working on chiles. Discard stems and seeds from dried chiles, slice chiles in quarters. Add chiles to skillet and don't allow them to char, also ensuring any moisture has evaporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Next, add cumin, coriander, caraway, and peppercorns into the same skillet over medium-low heat. Stir until toasted and fragrant, but do not burn. This should take only a few minutes. Remove from skillet and allow to cool.

Carefully add chiles and toasted seeds into a mortor and pestle into a coarse powder. Depending on your mortar size, you may have to repeat this process. Add smoked paprika, garlic powder, smoked salt, parsley, and oregano. Blend all spices ensuring they are fully pulverized and mixed evenly.

Expect to use all of this for the Rose Harissa Chicken recipe, but you can store this for up to a month in an airtight container.

Harissa Paste - on medium heat, bring 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil to temperature, with a half yellow onion, diced, and three cloves of garlic, allow it to brown. Do not allow them to burn. Salt and pepper. Lower heat. Add a half of can of tomato paste, or 3 oz. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Mix until all combined, turn off heat. Add half of your harissa from the dry recipe. Mix thoroughly and remove from heat. Cover until use.


Rose Harissa Chicken Thighs - deeply flavored and recalling the scents of a spice market, this chicken will come out perfectly if you take your time. It pairs well with sharp salads, or potato sides. This recipe is for six 8 oz chicken thighs, adjust if you are increasing.

6 chicken thighs, cleaned and dried

1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons harissa paste, separated

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon kosher salt, separated

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves and 4 thyme sprigs, separated

2 teaspoons grated garlic

1 tablespoon and 1 tablespoon black pepper, separated


2 large shallots, halved

1 garlic head, halved along its length

1 small lemon, halved

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon rose-harissa spice blend

2 tablespoons dried edible rose petals - best to order these on-line

Whisk Greek yogurt, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons harissa paste, 1 tablespoon salt, thyme, grated garlic, and 1 teaspoons pepper. Place chicken in a large ziplock plastic bag. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken, get into the nooks and crannies. Seal bag. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours, turning bag on occasion.

Take chicken out of fridge and allow it to reach room temperature, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F with the oven rack in upper third of oven. Scatter shallots, garlic, and lemon halves in a heavy-duty roasting pan or baking dish. Add thyme sprigs. Remove chicken from marinade, allowing excess marinade to drip off. Discard marinade. Wash hands and cleaning surfaces. Sprinkle chicken with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper; arrange chicken, skin sides up, in a single layer in roasting pan. Add 1/4 cup water to pan.

Roast chicken in preheated oven until a meat thermometer registers 140°F, 35 to 40 minutes. Turn broiler to high. Baste chicken with pan juices, and sprinkle chicken with dry rose-harissa spice. Broil, basting chicken with pan juices every couple of minutes, until thermometer registers 165°F, 10 to 12 minutes.

Carefully transfer chicken to a channeled cutting board; allowing it to rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, squeeze 1 roasted lemon half and 6 roasted garlic cloves into pan juices; reserve remaining lemon half for serving and remaining garlic cloves for another use. Mash shallots and garlic with a fork, then pour pan juice through mesh - keeping liquid, discard solids. Whishk in remaining harissa paste. Pour juice mixture onto a serving platter, and top with chicken. If desired, crush rose petals over chicken.


All in all - a wonderful meal that harkens to roiling fires smelling of earthy spices...

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