Spiced chicken with a versatile marinade.
Spiced chicken with a versatile marinade. Photo: Marina Oliphant

When I was a young chef, I went to eat at the restaurant where Greg Malouf was cooking. I remember that the beautifully simple style of food he served fortified my desire to be a cook and helped me keep going on the journey I'm still on. The region of Spain I come from has a Moorish history and even my name, Camorra, has its roots in this culture, which might explain my great love of vibrant Middle Eastern flavours.

The marinade for this chicken is versatile; it can be used for quail and even pork. It's so simple, you can make a double amount and leave half of it in the fridge for another time, as it will last for a month.

Pearl couscous, or moghrabieh, is an excellent alternative to normal couscous. Once cooked, you can add different flavours. I have tried dried apricot and cumin, with fresh mint and parsley folded through at the last minute.

SPICED CHICKEN

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika

1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tbsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 lemon, juiced

180ml olive oil

6 chicken Maryland fillets, skin on

Put all ingredients except chicken in a bowl and mix. Add chicken, coat in marinade, cover bowl with cling film and marinate overnight. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Heat a heavy-based pan, seal chicken skin-side down, then transfer to roasting tray and cook in oven 15 minutes. Rest in a warm place for five minutes. Slice and serve on warm pearl couscous with tahini yoghurt.


PEARL COUSCOUS WITH DRIED FIG AND CORIANDER

Good pinch salt

2 cups pearl couscous

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion

3 garlic cloves

1 tbsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground turmeric

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup dried figs, chopped

Zest from ½ preserved lemon

1 cup coriander leaves, chopped

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add salt then couscous and cook until tender to the bite, about 10 minutes. Drizzle couscous with one tablespoon of olive oil and quickly toss to coat. Spread couscous on a large baking sheet to cool. Meanwhile, finely chop onion and garlic. Heat remaining olive oil in a fry pan over a high heat. When oil is hot, add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it browns, three to five minutes. Add garlic and spices and cook for five minutes. Add couscous and one cup of water and stir well - this will start to form a sauce. When warm, add figs, preserved lemon and coriander. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Serves 6


TAHINI YOGHURT

500g natural yogurt

1 garlic clove, crushed

3 tbsp tahini

1 lemon, juiced

Pinch ground allspice

Mix all ingredients then add 100 millilitres water to make a smooth sauce. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving to let the flavours mingle.

Serves 6