We are late to Fiesta Friday yet again! We were out playing in the sun. It’s a terribly cold day again today so we were making the most of the last two days. 🙂 I know I promised not to rant about the winters again but spring is refusing to come. Even the change of clocks hasn’t helped one bit! But without drowning into winter blues any more, here we are with Moroccan Chicken Kebabs and Moroccan Rice Pilaf! Doesn’t it sound great? It was.
This is totally Nikhil’s idea and creation and I am taking absolutely no credit for it (except the rice- you’ll know in a bit). So my silent blogger husband decided we should have something Moroccan and he researched and decided we were going to have chicken kebabs and rice- Moroccan style! He did outsource the rice to me though, which was fine since the Chicken Kebabs were the star of the dish.
He then introduced me to Ras El Hanout which is basically a Moroccan spice mix. You could buy it readymade of course but the experimenter (if that is a word at all) that N is he decided to make it fresh which was such a great thing to do! So, Ras El Hanout is a complex, aromatic Moroccan spice blend. Ras El Hanout’s literal translation from Arabic is “head of the shop,” implying that it’s “the best (or top) of the shop” and it’s up to the store owner to compose his blend of choice, often with more than 20 items.
Our research has indicated that there is no definitive combination of spices that makes up Ras El Hanout. Every brand, store or even families may have their own blend. The mixture may consist of over a dozen spices. Commonly used ingredients include cardamom, clove, cinnamon, ground chili peppers, coriander, cumin, peppercorn, paprika, fenugreek and turmeric. Moroccans apparently use it in their daily cooking and others like us reserve it for specialty dishes. 🙂 The spices are very similar to what we use in our Indian kitchen to getting this together wasn’t too difficult for us. So here is how we made it:
- 6-7 allspice berries / 1 teaspoon ground allspice (this is an absolute must for wonderful tasting kebabs)
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds / 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
- 1-2 sticks cinnamon / 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon whole black pepper / 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 star anise / ½ teaspoon ground star anise
- 3 whole cloves / ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- ½ pound or approx. 250 grams ground chicken
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 green chilies, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon besan (gram flour)
- 8-9 teaspoons Ras El Hanout (Moroccan Spice Mix)
- 1 cup Greek yoghurt
- 1 clove garlic finely minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup chopped vegetables (we used mushrooms, beans & carrots)
- 1 ½ cups uncooked basmati rice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2-3 teaspoons spicy Harissa paste
- 3-4 teaspoons Ras El Hanout (Moroccan Spice Mix)
- 3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- juice of one lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil for grilling the kebabs
- 1 tablespoon butter
- If using whole spices, dry roast all the whole spices for 4-5 minutes on low heat to activate the essential oils. Allow these to cool for about 10-15 minutes and then blend finely in a spice grinder.
- Mix all the ground spices together to form one combined spice. Set this aside while you get the other things done.
- In a large mixing bowl , bring together all the Kebab ingredients and mix well using your hands. Refrigerate for about 15-20 minutes.
- Next, form the kebabs on wooden skewers like this:
- Now, in an iron skillet or a grill pan, heat oil and butter and grill the kebabs. Cook evenly on all sides.
- Serve on a bed of Moroccan rice together with the yoghurt sauce (see recipes below).
- Mix all the Yoghurt Sauce ingredients together really well to form a sauce.
- In heavy bottom pan, heat oil over low heat and add the chopped onions. Sauté for about a couple of minutes and then add the black pepper.
- Next, add in the vegetables and sauté on high heat for about 2-3 minutes.
- Then, add in the rice (no water yet) and toast for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Then, add in the Harissa paste, lemon zest and the Moroccan spice mix. Mix this well and sauté for another minute.
- Add water, salt and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, bring the heat on medium low, stir in the lemon juice and cover. Cook until the water has absorbed and the rice is cooked. This will take about 10-15 minutes.
- Once the rice is done, just sprinkle the cilantro and mix gently using a fork.
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