The ‘ULTIMATE’ Roasted Harissa Chicken

Live life with a little spice said someone someday…

Spicy food isn’t my thing. Chillies are my worst enemies while I am in the kitchen besides onions, which while being cut always make me cry (how amateur of me to say that), spicy food surely brings a tear to my eye and leaves me with a running nose…

However, all said and done… today’s recipe isn’t about me… it is about our good friend and weekend chef (Mr. Betney Pereira, fondly known as Meytek)…

We call him our Weekend Chef 👨‍🍳 because he’s mostly free on weekends as he’s new job demands him to work otherwise… So, he was driven to try out this recipe with a little inspiration from his colleague who is from Africa. 

This friend of his brought some homemade harissa curry which was served with hot rice, for lunch one day and asked Betney to try it out… Meytek fell in love with the flavour because it had a mild pungent taste yet it was so flavourful. That’s exactly what I felt when I tasted the roasted chicken… it was an explosion of flavours in my mouth…

The Harissa sauce which is the key player of today’s recipe, is a blend of roasted red peppers, an array of spices, a couple of herbs and enough amounts of oil… It is native to the North African region and is mainly found in the Moroccan, Libyan and Tunisian cuisines.

This Harissa sauce revs up the whole roasted chicken. It can also be used as a dip (I would prefer it with momos because that’s what I thought of when I first tasted Betney’s Asian version of the sauce, by itself), with fish and meat preparations, in a sandwich, or however it pleases your taste buds. 

How many of you like the flavour of Roasted garlic? Isn’t it amazing? So, throw in a lot of unpeeled garlic and enjoy it once the chicken is ready…
Also, throw in some lemon slices and sprigs of Rosemary to give the chicken a little more flavour. Rosemary adds a typical flavour to roast chicken in general. Added to this recipe, it lifted it up without over powering the flavour of the chicken.

This chicken can be served with plain rice, pulao (maybe even Garlic Pulao), flatbread or naan, chapatis or wraps, or even as a wholesome comfort meal with veggies. Or even with plain pulao like we did…

Whisk up some yoghurt and flavour it with a little cumin. This helps in soothing your tongue incase you find the chicken a little too fiery. It does compliment the roasted Harissa chicken.

This is a very quick and easy recipe and especially something you can make over the weekend when you do not want to spend too much time in the kitchen.

This chicken is crispy, juicy, tender with a little heat and a burst of various earthy flavours.

Tip to remember: Marinate the chicken overnight to let all the flavours envelop the chicken well…

So, Meytek decided to play around with various ingredients to come up with his Asian version of the Harissa sauce…


  • 1 whole chicken with the skin on, washed and cleaned

Harissa sauce: 

  • Roasted peppers
  • Roasted garlic
  • Whole spices (1 star anise, 2 cardamom pods,1 bay leaf, 3 cloves, 1″ cinnamon stick)
  • 1 tbsp Mixed spice powder 
  • Herbs (2 sprigs Fresh Rosemary and 1/4 tsp thyme)
  • 2 tbsp Roasted tomato and roasted garlic sauce 
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp roasted chilli sauce 
  • 3 tbsp Paprika 
  • Juice of 1 lemon 
  • 1 tbsp garlic-ginger paste

Veggies for roasting:

  • 1 packet Mushrooms (washed and cut into fours) 
  • 2 red onions,finely sliced
  • Red, yellow and green peppers, julienned 
  • A sprinkle of olive oil 
  • A pinch of salt to taste 
  • A sprinkle of mixed spice


Preheat the oven at 180’C. Wash and prep the chicken. Apply salt and keep aside.

Tip to remember: All ovens aren’t the same and the temperatures in each might vary and require some adjustments. Increase or lower the temperature of your oven according to what suits you best.

The chicken thighs take longer to cook compared to the chicken breast. So make slits on the entire chicken with a sharp knife to let the heat and flavour penetrate in. This allows the chicken to cook evenly and also makes the final product look amazing. 

Take all the ingredients for the marinate and sauté them in a pan with the olive oil. Once cooled, purée it and marinate the chicken with it for 8 hours or overnight. This allows all the flavours to get into the chicken well. 

Prep a baking tray with some oil and throw in the veggies. You can add whatever veggies you like but we added some mushrooms, garlic, onions, and peppers. Sprinkle on some mixed spice powder and some salt to taste. Drizzle on some more oil just to coat the veggies well… 

Sit the marinated chicken on the veggies. The chicken and veggies have a symbiotic relationship when in the oven and work well in harmony. The juices from the chicken cook the vegetables and the steam from the veggies in turn cook the chicken from below.

Roast it in the oven for 1 hour 20 mins or until the chicken is cooked throughly well. 

We served it with a cumin flavoured homemade yoghurt dip and some plain pulao.

You’ll certainly love this recipe, like we did and even turn on your oven to try it out.  

Smaaklike ete! (Enjoy your meal!) in Afrikaans.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. lulu says:

    This would be well received at our table.

    1. Thanks Lulu! That’s amazing to know…😀

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