Sauteed Chicken Chunks with Harissa and Couscous

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Harissa is a delicious North African spice paste—sold in cans everywhere you can buy Middle Eastern ingredients—hot but not fiery. It keeps nearly forever. This is a solid one-pot meal, and an impressive one as well.

NotesThese are chicken breast recipes first and foremost but there is no reason you could not use boneless chicken thighs, or turkey, pork, shrimp, or scallops for that matter, in any of them. Cooking times will be about the same—a little longer for dark meat chicken, turkey, or pork, a little shorter for seafood.

As usual, our advice is to steer clear of mass-produced supermarket chicken. Most kosher, free-range, or organic chickens are a much better bet.

Note that the amount of chicken in these recipes is relatively small. 1 pound total for 4 people. We feel that with the vegetables and a side dish, that's enough. If you want to increase all the amounts by fifty percent, or even double the recipes, that's fine, but we recommend that you cook in batches, or the chicken will not brown.

4 servings

Cooking Time30 min

Cooking Time - Text30



Total Timeunder 1 hour

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free



Taste and Textureherby, hot & spicy, juicy


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½- to 1-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups One-Hour Chicken Stock or any chicken stock
  • 1 cup couscous
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons harissa, or more to taste
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces zucchini, washed, trimmed, and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
  • 1 cup cooked (or canned) chickpeas (rinse if canned)
  • 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced (about 1 cup; use drained canned tomatoes if you wish)
  • ½ cup shredded mint


  1. Toss the chicken with the cumin, cardamom, and salt and pepper to taste and let sit while you prepare the couscous.

  2. Bring 1½ cups of the stock to a boil. Combine the couscous, raisins, 1 tablespoon of the harissa, the 1/3 cup olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Pour the boiling stock over the couscous, stir, and seal the top of the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside for at least 15 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, put the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet and turn the heat to high. A minute later, add the chicken and cook until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and toss, still over high heat, until it begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and the remaining 1 tablespoon harissa and ½ cup stock, along with the tomato. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 2 minutes; the mixture should be brothy. Taste and add more salt, pepper, and/or harissa to taste.

  4. Serve on top of the couscous, garnished with the mint.


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