It’s almost the end of Ramadan as Muslims around the world will celebrate the end to their month-long fast and abstinence from food, water and negativity with Eid al-Fitr/ Hari Raya Puasa on the 17th July. I’ve always been in awe of my muslim friends’ strength and endurance for being able to endure abstinence with such grace.
This hearty meal of easy roast chicken and couscous salad would be wonderful for iftar as it is simple to prepare, very delicious and can be doubled or tripled in volume to feed a large family breaking fast at sunset.
It is also a good dinner party dish as the overnight marination does wonders for its flavour and within an hour, you have a feast with minimal preparations.
I get my sumac, pomegranate molasses, harissa and other middle eastern supplies from Zac’s Butchery and Deli , Jones the Grocer outlets or Mustaffa in Singapore. Any good Middle Eastern provisions shop should have these ingredients.
The roast chicken exudes a slightly sour and sweet flavour from the addition of the pomegranate molasses and sumac (a sour berry spice) and is balanced with the spiciness from the harissa. With the additional roasting time, the top of the chicken pieces become crispy. I love how the onions caramelise while roasting and yet they remain soft and delicious as they soak up the chicken juices while they’re roasting. Despite a slightly longer roasting time, the chicken remains moist and just drops off the bone when it’s cut into as covering the pan with foil while it’s roasting in its own steam keeps it from drying out. You could serve the roast chicken and its juices over mashed potato or simple toast some country bread and dip into the rich broth. You just can’t go wrong with this roast chicken. So delicious!
Middle Eastern Roast Chicken with Pearl Couscous Salad
- 1 kg/ 2lbs chicken thighs/drumsticks, pricked all over with a fork
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2-4 tbsp harissa paste (adjust according to how spicy your paste is)
- 3 tsp ginger-garlic paste (equal measures of ginger and garlic)
- 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1-2 cups water, low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 large red onions, quartered
1. Mix all ingredients, except the water/low-sodium chicken stock and onions, in a bowl.
2. In a large ziplock bag, put the chicken and marinade and massage the chicken until all the marinade coats the chicken pieces. Marinate overnight or for at least 4 hours.
3. Remove marinated chicken from the fridge at least 45 mins before cooking.
4. In a large roasting tray, empty entire content of ziplock bag onto tray. Evenly space out the chicken and place quartered onions in between chicken pieces.
5. Pour about 1 -2 cups of water into the tray so that the the water level reaches halfway up the chicken pieces.
6. Sprinkle some sea salt flakes over the chicken pieces and cover with aluminium foil. In a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F, bake for 25 minutes.
7. After 20 minutes, remove aluminium foil and check to see that there is still some liquid in the tray. Pour a few tablespoonfuls of water more if needed.
8. Turn up the oven temperature to 200°C/390°F and return roasting tray to the top rack of the oven for another 15- 20 min until chicken is fully cooked and crispy on top.
9. Serve with rice or couscous salad (scroll down page) and yoghurt.
Pearl Couscous Salad
- 1 -2 cups pearl couscous (allow about 1/4 – 1/2 cup per serving)
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- Salt Pepper
- 1 Red/Yellow/Orange Pepper/Capsicum, diced
- Telegraph cucumber, diced
- Handful of fresh Coriander, Parsley & Mint, roughly chopped
1. Cook couscous as you would cook pasta.
2. Drain the couscous and immediately season with olive oil, salt, pepper and whatever spices you’d like to add while it is hot.
3. Toss with diced peppers, cucumbers and herbs. Serve.