Make this: Harissa chicken thighs with saffron Israeli couscous

Crispy-yet-juicy chicken thighs meet their match in nutty, saffron-infused couscous for a new dinner party favourite from Shahir Massoud's Eat, Habibi, Eat!

Recipe: Harissa chicken thighs with saffron Israeli couscous

Serves 6

Preparation time 20 minutes

Cooking time 45 minutes

Eat, Habibi, Eat!, by Canadian-Egyptian TV host Shahir Massoud, celebrates the diverse flavours of Middle Eastern cooking. Exploring the region's famed street food and its finer dishes, the book is a brilliant, playful introduction to the richly spiced meals from Egypt and beyond — mostly using ingredients you'll easily find in your local grocery store.

Massoud's recipe for juicy harissa chicken thighs with saffron couscous won't fail to bring warmth and life to your kitchen, at a time when we're all crying out for a little more inspiration.


Harissa chicken

  • 1 cup harissa
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 lb chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
  • Salt
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken stock

Saffron Israeli couscous

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup saffron butter

Saffron butter

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tsp saffron threads


Harissa chicken

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the harissa, olive oil, garlic, brown sugar and ¼ cup water. Add the chicken, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or even marinate overnight.
  2. Bring the chicken to room temperature and preheat the oven to 400 F. Reserve the excess marinade, but pat the chicken dry to help with the sear. Season with salt.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, and sear for 1 to 2 minutes. Flip over and transfer to a plate or sheet pan. Work in batches if necessary, to avoid overcrowding the pan.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the reserved marinade and bring to a boil. Add the chicken back to the pan, in one layer, and roast in the oven for about 35 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 F.
  5. Serve each plate with some couscous on the bottom, topped with a chicken thigh and some of the remaining sauce.

Saffron Israeli couscous

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the couscous and toast for 1 to 2 minutes, allowing the couscous to brown and achieve a nutty, more complex flavour.
  2. Cover with 5 cups water and salt, then bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 to 16 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the couscous is al dente.
  4. Finish by stirring in the saffron butter and an additional pinch of salt if needed.

Saffron butter

  1. Melt the butter and saffron in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to infuse for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a blender and blend until very smooth.
  3. Transfer to a resealable plastic container and allow to cool, then refrigerate for up to 10 days.