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Fortunately, I work really close to a good market, where I can pick up all the lovely ingredients, gourmet or not, which can be quickly whipped up into dinner. If I feel like, say a fajita, I know I can pick up some tortillas at the bakery next door and the butcher shop for some chicken breast, right next it. Fresh tomatoes at the grocer down the lane and some brilliant Colby cheese if I'm up for it. I'm lucky like that, I suppose.
I am also lucky, that the husband will mostly (kindly note, only mostly) eat whatever I make for dinner. In the winters we try and eat soups that are thick and filling with some kind of roasts, in the summers salads, grills and small bakes are what we usually aim at eating. Of course, there are days when I just don't feel like cooking and a simple Aglio Olio is all I have the energy to whip up. Or better still eating leftovers from lunch.
But there are days I know in advance what I might want the next day. And I am so focused about making it, that it's hard to think of anything else. I'll marinate, saute, boil and char in advance just so that making the meal gets easier.
So when I saw a picture of chicken skewers with harissa on Pinterest, it was almost as if I could think of nothing else. Luckily I had a whole lot of chicken breasts at home and even some red pepper. It was almost as if, the recipe was earmarked because of the content of my fridge. But I had to wait. Since the chicken had to be marinated overnight and the dip would take a bit of time too.
With the hot harissa, I needed something cool to go with it. I had plenty of basil in my fridge, so it made sense to make a basil dip. Since I love lebanese spices, I marinated my chicken in things that would have it succulent and a fun dinner to eat.
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Lebanese chicken skewers with Basil Tzatziki and Harissa
Makes 8 skewers
For the chicken skewers
4 chicken breasts
2 tsp Lebanese spice mix or zatar or sumac
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp paprika
2 garlic cloves crushed
Juice of one lime
2 tblsp yogurt
3 tblsp olive oil
8 wooden skewers soaked in water
Additional olive oil
For the Basil Tzaziki
200 gms hung yogurt
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 cucumber grated and salted
A big bunch of basil
Salt to taste
A pinch of sugar
For the Harissa
1 whole roasted red pepper, seeds removed3 dried chiles (use one variety or a combination like ancho, guaijillo, chipotle, etc.)1/4 cup boiling water1 garlic clove1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder1 teaspoon cumin1/2 teaspoon corianderJuice of half a lemonSalt, to taste4 to 5 tablespoons oil
For the chicken
1. Wash and dry the chicken. Cut the breasts into bite -sized cubes and leave aside. Meanwhile prepare the marination. Mix together lebanese spice, cardamon, oil, lemon juice, cumin powder, paprika, yogurt and salt. Add to the chicken cubes marinate for at least 2 hours of up to 48 hours.
2. Soak skewers in water for atleast one hour. Once the chicken is marinated, sew five pieces of the chicken onto one skewer. Leave aside on a plate.
3. When you're ready to serve, heat a grill pan with a little bit of olive oil. Put in 4 skewers at a time, and let the meat sear. Keep turning until you get an even colour. Turn the heat down and let the chicken cool, additiaonlly for 3 minutes on two sides.
For the Basil Tzatziki
1. Crush the garlic and add to the yogurt. Squeeze water from the cucumber and add it to the yogurt. Add some salt and sugar.
2. Chop the basil in, and check for seasoning. At the tzatziki sit in the refrigerator for atleast 1 hour if not overnight.
For the Harissa
1. Chargrill the pepper and keep aside. Meanwhile to boiling water add the chillies and let it sitfor 20 minutes.
2. In a small blender add cayenne, garlic, lemon juice, oil, cumin powder, coriander powder and salt. Add the chargrilled pepper and the chillies to it. Blitz until the desired consistency. (I let my harissa be a little runny cause I wanted to use it as a dip).
3. Serve with the skewers
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