So a little background on how this meal was born. I’ve been away on holiday and you know how even though you might be eating seriously delicious, nice food.. there’s something about home food that just can’t be beaten. I guess it’s really just the ability to knock up exactly what you fancy. So I was in the Caribbean (Antigua to be exact) this week and dined on a buffet of gloriously fresh fish (and piles of it) every single day. Beautiful fish of all varieties. The type of fish wasn’t listed, and was mysteriously listed just as ‘catch of the day’ – but I’m reckoning there was a swordfish, blue marlin, a fish similar to tuna, beautiful flakey white fish, red mullet, catfish… oh gosh I was spoiled rotten. I so rarely eat fish as it’s relatively hard to track down around these parts, but it’s my favourite food. And I really went to town on all that fish. Sorry seas, I think I’ve depleted your stocks. Oops. Every single meal for 7 days, fish fish fish. So, you’ll see why I figured it was about time to eat some chicken!
Aubergine, one of my favourite foods, wasn’t on the vegetable menu – unsurprisingly. We ate lots of pumpkin and carrots and peppers. I know the Caribbean is famous for chilli but I sadly didn’t see any. Perhaps because I was too busy checking out the fish to bother with the jerk on offer.. but also sadly I reckon the spices were knocked back to cater for Westerners. So you’ll get the reason behind the super hot harissa.
This is a seriously hot harissa – although it’ll depend on the strength of your chillis. I wanted some serious HEAT and so left in the seeds of two fairly innocent looking and fairly mega tasting chillis. WOW. If you’re not such a fan, remove the seeds or half the quantity of chilli – but don’t skip on making this. It’s so easy (especially if you have a jar of roasted red peppers knocking around, my new favourite cheat ingredient) and really perks up a simple, healthy dinner of grilled chicken.
So there you have it. The story behind my Sunday night dinner. Good, hot home-cooked food for a jet-lagged duo.
For the harissa you will need:
Flesh of 1 roasted red pepper
1/4 tspn each of caraway seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds
1 tbspn olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
2 medium hot red chillis, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Pinch of rose petals (optional)
2/3 tspn salt
2 tbspns lemon juice
To make the harissa:
1 – Dry roast the spices and grind to a powder.
2 – Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes before stirring in the chilli and garlic. Cook for a further few minutes before stirring in the tomato puree and cooking for a further 2 minutes.
3 – Tip the roast pepper, ground seeds, salt, rose petals (if using), lemon juice and cooked onion, garlic and chilli into a blender and blitz til smooth. Set aside until needed.
For the aubergine you will need:
1 aubergine, diced
3 tbspn olive oil
1 tbspn white wine vinegar
Splash of water
Handful chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed
To make the aubergine:
1 – Heat half the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the aubergine.
2 – Turn the heat down slightly after browning the aubergine pieces on all sides (about 4 minutes).
3 – Add the salt, pepper and vinegar, allow to sizzle then continue to cook the aubergine for another ten minutes until soft through, adding splashes of water and a little of the remaining oil from time to time to prevent burning.
4 – Stir in the garlic and parsley, cook for a minute then serve.
For the chicken you will need:
2 free range chicken breasts
1 heaped tbspn harissa (see above)
To make the chicken:
1 – Use a rolling pin to flatten the chicken breasts to about 1cm thick. Cut each into 4 portions.
2 – Season the chicken breast pieces and coat in the harissa. Leave to marinade for 30 minutes if you’ve time.
3 – Preheat an overhead grill to 200 degrees. Pop in a baking tray to heat up. When ready to cook arrange the chicken pieces on the hot baking tray and grill til just cooked through, around 6 minutes depending on the strength of your grill/thickness of chicken pieces.
For the lemony yoghurt sauce you will need:
3 tbspns nonfat greek yoghurt
2 tbspn lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 tbspn water
Pinch of salt
To make the yoghurt sauce:
Simply mix all of the ingredients together well. Add salt to taste.
10 walnuts, freshly roasted and salted.
Extra fresh parsley, chopped.
Simply arrange the walnuts and aubergine on a dinner plate. Top with the chicken pieces and dollop over the yoghurt, plus some of the extra harissa if you’re brave enough! Serve with extra chopped parsley on top.