Happy Travel Tuesday! Thankfully, this week is looking up. I even came up with Plan B in order to ease my student loan debt depression. Wish me luck 😉 And so! Back to your new favorite travel series Hostel Cooking with an authentic, simple North African dish. Get into the kitchen and try out this Moroccan chicken recipe with couscous today.
Towering cones of Moroccan spices. I always wondered how they remained erected! (Spacmonster, Flickr)
Moroccan dishes are typically savory and sweet. Spice mixes typically incorporate a healthy dose of some eastern spices (such as turmeric and cumin), in addition to cinnamon and even ginger. Nuts, raisins, and prunes are typically used as toppings as well. The result? A mix of delicate, subtle flavors and notes.
As the Moroccan Tourist Office states, “spice does not mean chili. Spices are beneficial and even possess qualities which help digestion.” So if you are used to chunky Indian curries and other ultra-spicy Eastern concoctions, Moroccan food will (pleasantly) surprise you.
The most popular Moroccan spice mix is known as ras el-hanout. It is used for making most tajine and couscous dishes. Contents vary from household to household, so some ras el-hanout mixes may include up to 35 different spices!
Sample of Moroccan ras el-hanout by linecook, Flickr
Please note, our Moroccan chicken recipe with couscous is traditional — and not. How so? A formal meal in Morocco usually starts with hot and cold salads (analogous to Arab mezzes), followed by lamb or chicken (by themselves). Then, on the third course, the big couscous plate makes an appearance, topped with even more meat and vegetables.
However, since this is the Hostel Cooking travel series, we thrive to make even the most complicated dishes simple. For this reason, we have marinated the chicken with Moroccan-like spices and cooked boxed couscous within minutes. The taste though, I assure you, took me back back to Morocco instantly! So yes, by trying Josh’s Moroccan chicken recipe, your taste buds will have a little piece of North Africa — no matter where you are 😉
Hostel cooking: Chicken
Total cost per plate: US $4.00 (based off Tampa, FL)
Total Cooking Time: 6 – 10 hrs for marinade; 30 mins prep and cooking time.
Moroccan chicken recipe with couscous (by Josh Snore)
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh mint
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cup of instant couscous
1 green pepper, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
1 plum tomato, diced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 oz honey
1/2 cup mint
1/4 cup parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Cooking directions: Chicken
Mix the marinade ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and thoroughly coat with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator from 6 to 10 hours.
Then, either cook in black iron skillet or grill the chicken breasts a few minutes on each side, until cooked through. About 5 mins each side. Take care not to overcook, as chicken breasts can easily dry out.
Cooking directions: Couscous
Take minced garlic and olive oil and heat up saucepan until garlic is browned. Then add paprika, salt and pepper, and diced green peppers. Be careful not to let the peppers sit too long, stirring occasionally. When the peppers have browned, add the onions until browned.
Separately follow directions to cook couscous, according to your box. Typically though, it will involve the following:
Boil water with 1 teaspoon of salt, and one tablespoon of butter. Add couscous to boiling water, stir quickly, remove from heat, cover quickly, and allow to sit for five minutes.)
Back in the saucepan, when onions are browned add honey, turn off heat, and allow the honey and peppers to suck it up. Then add diced tomatoes, chopped mint and parsley, and stir into mixture.
Add saucepan contents to fluffed couscous. Mix evenly.
Plate couscous with chicken on top. Garnish with mint leaves and parsley. Bessaha! 😉
The final product! Never thought you could cook Moroccan chicken with couscous in a hostel, did you?
Got a different Moroccan chicken recipe? Share it with us below!
Never been to Morocco, but the food looks yummy. I guess it’s pretty hard to get all these ingredients in Europe ;-(
These ingredients shouldn’t be hard to find in Europe, at all! Especially given the proximity of Morocco to the continent. Some low-cost European airlines even fly to Morocco for really, really cheap. When I was living there, I flew from Fez (Morocco) to Madrid for $20 one weekend, including taxes (I know, crazy!).
You should check the ethnic foods section of the supermarket or for a specialty store, which I’m sure there are many. All you would need are the spices and a box of couscous. Listo! 😉
Here’s a tagine dish I made inspired by my trip to Morocco: http://www.tootimidandsqueamish.com/2011/11/ready-to-taste-tagine-again/
The chicken recipe looks really good!
I am really impressed by these towering cones of Moroccan spices. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the photos.
likewise! I always wondered how they could scoop out the spices, yet the towers wouldn’t collapse…