July 26, 2018

Harissa Baked Chicken

Recipe: Rawia Bishara

Try this Harissa Baked Chicken recipe from the cookbook Levant.

Heat can register on the palate in a myriad of ways: a jalapeño lands differently than wasabi, and the same goes for black pepper and harissa. The latter is my favorite for imparting both flavor and fire, just assertive enough to jolt a dish while contributing intriguing, aromatic depth.


  • 2 chickens, halved or quartered (you can ask your butcher to do this)
  • 2 tbsp Tanoreen Spice Mix or 1 tbsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 8 waxy potatoes, sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup Harissa
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 poblano chiles, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp crushed dried Persian limes (limuomani; optional, see sidebar)
  • 4 tbsp cilantro-basil pesto
  • 4 cups chicken broth or water
  • Sea salt


Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 ̊F.
  2. Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl. Rub 1 tablespoon of the Tanoreen Spices or allspice evenly over the chicken pieces, pressing gently so they adhere. Heat the vegetable oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, sear the chicken pieces on both sides until golden, about 4 minutes each side.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with ½ cup of the olive oil, then place them in a large baking dish. Roast until just golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and place the seared chicken in a single layer on top of the potatoes. Return to the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350 ̊F.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ½ cup oil, the hot pepper paste, lemon juice, shallots, garlic, chiles, crushed dried limes, if using, the remaining 1 tablespoon Tanoreen Spices and the pesto. Brush evenly over the chicken.
  5. Pour the chicken broth into the four corners of the baking dish, being careful not to let it splash on top of the chicken. Season everything with salt. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, place in the oven, and roast for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when a knife is inserted between the leg and breast or a meat thermometer registers 165°F. Remove the foil and roast for 5 minutes more, or until golden all over and crispy, being careful not to let the hot pepper paste burn.

Recipes taken from Levant by Rawia Bishara, published by Kyle Books. Photography by Con Poulos.