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harissa chicken
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5 from 3 votes

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.
Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine international, Middle-Eastern, North African
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 602kcal
Author Aleksandra


meat and vegetables:

  • 2 chicken legs about 1.3 lbs / 600g
  • 2 medium carrots 7 oz / 200g, cut into very 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

the sauce:

  • baking dish drippings
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon rose water can be omitted

the couscous:

  • ½ cup couscous
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 3 sprigs parsley finely chopped leaves
  • 1 teaspoon grated 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 (if you have a convection oven reduce the temperature by about 20°). 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. 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 (remove the seeds to make 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.
  • I like to add additional spices to the store-bought harissa paste: 1/2 ts cumin + 1/2 ts coriander
  • Ingredient substitutions:
    • chicken legs - you can also use chicken thighs
    • harissa paste - if you only have dry spice mix, mix is with olive oil and rub the chicken, you can also try to make your own spice mix
    • rose water - can be omitted
    • coucous - you can also use pearl couscous or bulgur
    • apple cider vinegar - red wine vinegar
  • Calories count = 1/2 of the recipe (this is only an estimate!)


Calories: 602kcal