Chicken Harissa

Chicken Harissa

Harissa sounds like a pretty exotic word to the average Joe living in North America. However, a simple harissa paste can easily be made with familiar ingredients to make an amazing Super Bowl snack, Chicken Harissa. This North African-inspired dish is low on oil, high on protein, and packed with flavor, sure to blow your socks off even if your team is going down. Let’s take a closer look at the recipe.

What is Chicken Harissa?

Harissa is a spicy Chili paste traditionally from North Africa made with a variety of roasted red peppers, garlic paste, coriander seeds, caraway seeds, olive oil, and a citrus element to give the paste a characteristic freshness to go along with the fiery heat of the peppers. The original Harissa makes use of exotic Chili Peppers like Serrano, Baklouti, and many other Hot Chili Peppers. But to keep the recipe simple and easy to make, we are going to make a Harissa-inspired marinade for our chicken. Most of these ingredients are already commonly found in pantries, so it shouldn’t be a problem to whip up a snack for game night.

Notable Ingredients at a Glance

Chicken – You’ll need 400gms or almost 1 pound of boneless chicken thighs or chicken breast. This can kick off the debate on dark meat versus white meat in dishes that require grilling or roasting. Many argue that white meat tends to dry out faster and lacks flavour, while proponents of white meat say that if cooked right, white meat is easier to cook and retains its juices. You can be on either side of the fence. The dish is going to turn out great either way.

Dry red chilies –  We are going to be using 15 dried Red Chillies. If you have fresh Red Chillies on hand that would be amazing. But we are going to paste this anyway so it doesn’t matter that much.

Garlic cloves – You will need 10 or more peeled garlic cloves.

Coriander seeds – 1 tablespoon is going to be enough.

Cumin seeds – 1 tablespoon as well.

Sesame oil – 1/2 cup. This is optional. If you do not find sesame oil you can substitute it with olive oil. Any rich flavourful oil is going to bring your harissa paste to life.

Salt – 1 tsp or to taste.

How to prepare Chicken Harissa?

The two main components of this dish are the Chicken and harissa marinade.

First off, we want to wash and clean the chicken and keep it aside.

For the marinade, we need to prepare the harissa paste. In a bowl of warm water, soak the dry Red Chillies and keep them aside for 30 minutes. While the chilies are soaking, you can dry roast the coriander and cumin seeds in a frying pan. Roast them till fragrant. They should let off a nice nutty aroma. Set them aside to cool down.

Once they have cooled down to room temperature you can grind them coarsely in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.

Now it’s time to take the Red Chillies out of the water and add it into a blender along with the garlic cloves. Grind it coarsely without adding any water. As the paste thickens up, add a half cup of oil and pulse the blender until it forms a smooth paste. no mixed the Chili paste along with the coarsely ground coriander and cumin powder. Season generously with salt. This is your Harissa paste.

Marinate the chicken with harissa paste for at least an hour or overnight for best results.

Heat a grilling pan and drizzle a few drops of oil. We need the oil mostly to prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan. We have already added a lot of oil in the harissa paste itself. Grilled marinated chicken pieces till cooked properly. It should take around 8 to 10 minutes. Be sure to sear both the sides till all the marination dries up and the chicken pieces are red and crispy.

Serve hot as an appetizer along with onion juliennes and green chutney.

Some expert tips for preparing Chicken Harissa

  • The cut and type of chicken you use in this recipe dictates the cooking time. Ideally, you should aim for a juicy flavourful chicken.
  • You can use any other type of oil as long as it’s fragrant and rich. Neutral oils can also be used if you prefer so.
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Chicken Harissa

  • Author: Mish
  • Total Time: 40 mins + Marination
  • Yield: 4 1x


A North African style chicken super bowl made with a slight Indian twist.


  • 400 gm Chicken or almost 1 pound
  • 15 Dry red chilies
  • 10 Garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon Coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Cumin seeds – 1tbsp
  • ½ cup Sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Salt


  1. Wash and clean the chicken and keep it aside.
  2. Begin by preparing the Harissa paste.
  3. Soak the dry red chilies in warm water and keep it aside for 30 minutes.
  4. Take a frying pan and dry roast the coriander and cumin seeds till they give out a nice nutty aroma. Let it cool.
  5. Once the coriander and cumin seeds have cooled down grind them coarsely in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Keep it aside.
  6. Now let us take out the red chilies from water and add it to a mixer grinder along with garlic cloves and grind it coarsely without adding any water.
  7. Open the grinder jar and add half cup oil to the coarsely ground red chilies.
  8. Pulse the grinder for a minute and form a smooth paste.
  9. Now mix the chili paste along with coarsely ground coriander and cumin powder and salt. The harissa paste is now ready.
  10. Now marinade the chicken with the Harissa paste for at least 1 hour or overnight for best results.
  11. Heat a grilling pan and drizzle some oil.
  12. Grill the marinated chicken pieces on the grilling pan till cooked properly which will take about 8 to 10 minutes.
  13. Sear both the sides till all the marination dries up and the chicken pieces are red and crisp.
  14. Serve Chicken Harissa as an appetizer along with onion julienne and green chutney. .


You do not need much oil as we have already used lot of oil in our Harissa paste.

  • Prep Time: 20 mins + Marination
  • Cook Time: 20 Mins

Keywords: Chicken Harissa

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