Moorish Chicken with Fruit & Nut Pillaf


4 chicken Maryland cut legs

2 tablespoons butter at room temperature

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

½ teaspoon harissa

½ teaspoon powdered cinnamon

½ teaspoon garam masala powder

Rind from a medium sized lemon

Sea salt to taste


Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Wipe the chicken dry with kitchen paper. Starting from the thigh side, separate the skin from the flesh using a blunt knife and mostly your fingers till as far as your fingers can reach without tearing the skin. This is to create a pocket to put the flavoured butter.

Using your fingers, mix the garlic, harissa, lemon rind and all the spices into the butter. Divide the flavoured butter to five even portions.

Place each portion into the pocket created and spread the flavoured butter as much as you can, so it has maximum reach. Repeat with all the legs. Using the last portion of the flavoured butter, rub it evenly on the skin of all four legs. Sprinkle sea salt on top of the buttered skin.

Put the legs on a rack in a tray with the inserted side facing up. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, turning once in between until skin is evenly browned and crispy.

Serve hot with the fruit and nut pillaf and yoghurt sauce.


300 grams Basmati rice

30 grams ghee or unsalted butter

100 grams onion finely diced

100 grams of nuts such as cashew, almond slivers, pistachios

50 grams currants

50 grams sultanas

2 teaspoons sugar

1 cinnamon stick

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

2 teaspoons mixed spice

5-6 tender mint sprigs

Salt to taste


Place rice in a sieve and rinse out several times until the water runs clear.

Use a small fry pan or skillet, fry the nuts in half tablespoon of ghee or butter.

Heat the remaining ghee or butter in a large fry pan (with lid). When hot, add the cinnamon stick and cumin seeds. When the aroma is evident (about a minute), throw in the onions and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the mint sprigs into the pan along with the sugar. Fry for a minute until the mint is wilted. Now add the rice, along with the dried fruit and fry for three minutes, taking care not to break the grain. When all the rice is nicely coated with the spice mixture add 500mls of water and salt to taste. Bring the water up to the boil, lower heat to the lowest setting, (or transfer to a smaller burner) cover and cook for 15 -18 minutes. You will know rice is cooked when each and every grain has opened up fully. Carefully mix in the nuts. Allow to rest for five minutes before serving.

Cook’s tips:

A number people find cooking rice challenging. Buy the best Basmati rice you can afford.

Don’t be tempted to mix constantly. Rice is brittle and the grain will break.

Use a large enough pan so the rice has plenty of room to blossom.

Serve this dish with a yoghurt sauce. Mix 150 grams of Greek yoghurt with a teaspoon each of lemon juice and sugar. Sprinkle the sauce with sumac for a moreish punch.

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