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Chicken thighs with harissa, rose water sauce and lemon couscous

9 March 2018 | Last Updated: 8 July 2019

Chicken thighs with harissa, rose water sauce and lemon couscous

This is one of my favorite dishes. Chicken thighs marinated in harissa – aromatic paste made of hot peppers, cumin, coriander and garlic, with delicate meat falling off the bone and crispy skin. I bake them with sweet carrots, onions and raisins together, and from the liquid formed during baking I make a sauce, to which I add rose water. Its addition really takes the sauce to a higher level, its smell is wonderful. If you won’t use the rose water for cooking anymore, it’s wonderful as a face tonic.

The dish is also very quick to make, assuming that you will use a store bought harissa paste (you can find it in any oriental food store or on the internet) it will take you 20-30 minutes to prepare your dinner. If you don’t have the harissa paste, I also have a recipe for a homemade harissa paste, which is very easy to make at home.

You really should make this, the taste will delight you, I promise!

See also my another recipe with harissa paste: harissa, scrambled eggs, avocado and coriander sourdough toast.

Udka z kurczaka z harissą, sosem z wodą różaną i cytrynowym kuskusem Roasted chicken thighs with harissa, rosewater sauce and lemon couscous
Udka z kurczaka z harissą, sosem z wodą różaną i cytrynowym kuskusem Roasted chicken thighs with harissa, rosewater sauce and lemon couscous

Chicken thighs with harissa, rose water sauce and lemon couscous

Flavorful, fall-off-the-bone chicken, seasoned with aromatic harissa paste and served with rose water sauce and lemon parsley couscous.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Author Aleksandra


meat and vegetables:

  • 2 chicken thighs about 1.3 lbs / 600g
  • 2 medium carrots 7 oz / 200g, cut into thin slices (about 2-3mm / 1/7-inch)
  • 3 tablespoons raisins
  • 3 shallots or small onions, 3.4 oz / 100g, cut into thin slices
  • salt to taste
  • ½ cup of water


  • 2 tablespoons store-bought harissa paste or ¼ of my recipe for homemade harissa paste = 2 tablespoons*


  • baking dish drippings
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon rose water


  • ½ cup couscous
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 3 sprigs parsley finely chopped leaves
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest preferably from an organic lemon
  • salt and black pepper to taste


meat and vegetables:

  • Marinate the chicken legs for a minimum of a few hours, and preferably overnight. Rub the meat thoroughly with salt and harissa paste, also under the skin. Place the meat in an oven proof casserole dish, cover it with a plastic foil, put in the fridge, leave to marinate.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 °C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4, no fan. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator.
  • When the oven is ready, pour about a ½ cup of water into the dish (you should have about 1/2-inch / 1 cm water in the baking dish), cover the dish with a lid or seal tightly with aluminum foil, put in the oven, bake for 45 minutes.
  • About 10 minutes before the end of this time, prepare the vegetables (slice thinly the carrots and shallots).
  • Add the carrots, onions, and raisins to the baking dish, pour in the additional water, if necessary. The vegetables should be at least half covered with the liquid.
  • Bake uncovered for another 45 minutes, during this time baste the chicken 1-2 times with the liquid from the baking dish. At the end of the baking keep an eye on the thighs and if they brown too quickly cover them loosely with an aluminum foil. If the skin is not crispy, move the baking dish to the top shelf of the oven and bake until crispy.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven, it’s ready when the skin is browned and crispy and the meat easily falls off the bone.


  • About 10 minutes before the end of the baking time, prepare the couscous.
  • Season the couscous with salt and pepper, add boiling water, stir, cover and leave for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the chopped parsley and lemon zest.

rose water sauce:

  • Strain the meat and vegetables, reserving the liquid in a small pot.
  • Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the sauce and cook over medium heat until thickened (my sauce has reduced by half and I had about ¼ cup of sauce left).
  • Take the pot off the heat, add a tablespoon of rose water and stir.


  • Place the chicken, vegetables, and couscous on a plate, pour the sauce over and serve.
  • Enjoy!


* recipe for a small amount of harissa paste, just for this recipe:
1 small onion, 2 cloves garlic, 2 chili peppers, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, ½ teaspoon sweet paprika powder, 2 heaped tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper, 1 teaspoon tomato paste, salt to taste.
Dice the onion, garlic and chili (you can remove the seeds if you want it less spicy). Heat the oil in a small frying pan, add the onion and cook for about 6 minutes, add the garlic, chili, and spices, cook for about 1 minute, add chopped red bell paprika and cook for 5 minutes until soft, finally add tomato paste, mix and season with salt. Blend until smooth paste forms.
Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine international, Middle-Eastern, North African
Keyword harissa chicken thighs, harissa marinade, harrisa chicken recipe, lemon parsley couscous, rose water sace

This dish was inspired by the fried sea bass recipe from the book ‘Jerusalem’ by Y. Ottolenghi and S. Tamimi.

Did you make this recipe? Let me know how you liked it and give it a star rating in the comments below! You can also add a photo of your creation!

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