Tag Archives: spices

Harissa Aubergine with Spiced Vegetable Stew and Maneesh

It’s no secret that we’re pretty obsessed with Moroccan flavours, we thought we were before we went to Marrakech and it’s only got worse since then! The main body of this dinner is so easy – roasted vegetables with spices and chickpeas but we jazzed it up a little with some harissa infused chargrilled aubergine, homemade maneesh (middle Eastern flatbreads with herbs) and a dip/sauce to drizzle on. If you want to find the basic recipe for the roasted vegetables and maneesh then check out our recipe here – we’ll note any variations. The end result was like a big hug on a plate (that analogy doesn’t really work), warming, filling yet with some freshness from the abundance of vegetables and the tang of the pomegranate molasses. We’re praying that this miserable weather buggers off soon but while it’s hanging around this is exactly the sort of food we love to eat.

If you want to make the maneesh it does take a few hours so best save this one for when you’ve got a bit of time. Alternatively you could make the dough (mixing and kneading) the night before, leave it to prove overnight and the next day in the fridge so you would just have to do the shaping, the second rise which is shorter and the baking after work which is definitely do-able. Find the full recipe here.

Ingredients for the vegetables

  • 1 red pepper, roughly diced
  • 1 green pepper, roughly diced
  • 1-2 courgettes, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion (red or white), sliced into wedges
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, roughly diced
  • A handful of tomatoes – we used a mix of salad and cherry as it’s what we had around but cut into roughly half-cherry-tomato size
  • 1 heaped tsp of ras el hanout
  • ½ tsp sumac
  • A large pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • A splash of water
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses

Veg for Moroccan stew

As we explained how we made this in an earlier recipe we’ll be brief – throw the chopped vegetables in a large roasting dish, coat with the oil, salt and spices and put in an oven at around 190 for half an hour stirring after 15 minutes. After the half hour add the chickpeas, enough water to make a light sauce and the pomegranate molasses and put back in the oven for 15-20 minutes. All done!

Moroccan stew in progress

Ingredients for the aubergine

  • 1 large aubergine, sliced into 1-2 cm strips
  • Table salt
  • 1 heaped tsp of harissa paste
  • 2 tsp olive oil

After you’ve sliced the aubergine salt it by sprinkling both sides with table salt and then standing up to let the water run off. We don’t bother doing this if we’re cubing and roasting the aubergine with other veg but it makes a real difference doing it this way if you’re chargrilling, they’ll crisp up much better. Leave them for about 10-20 minutes and then wipe with kitchen paper. Get a griddle pan really hot and then turn the heat down to fairly low, it should stay really hot! Mix together the harissa and oil and then brush one side of an aubergine slice with this mixture and lay it down in the pan. Repeat with another couple of slices (being careful not to overcrowd the pan) and then brush the tops of them as they’re cooking. They should take about 1-2 minutes per side, try not to move them too much or you won’t get the nice griddle lines on them. Once they’re cooked pop them on a plate together and keep on cooking them in batches. Once you’ve done them all you can put the plate in the oven just for a couple of minutes to warm them up.

Harissa aubergine

Ingredients for the dip

  • Natural yoghurt
  • Moroccan chutney, but you could use harissa mixed with a little pomegranate molasses instead
  • Tahini

Simply pop some yoghurt in a dish, marble through some chutney/harissa and drizzle with tahini – the quantities are up to you but for each of us we used about 2 tbsp of yoghurt, 1 tsp of chutney and half a tsp of tahini.

Tahini and chutney dip

Now put your dinner together, just whack it all on a plate and get stuck in… it can get very messy! These would all make really nice dishes in a meze style evening too, try serving smaller quantities on little plates/bowls with the maneesh sliced into strips for dipping.

Moroccan feast done!

Cauliflower Soup

The idea for this came after we picked up a cauliflower at the Sunday farmers market after a gorgeous walk in the sunshine but had no clear idea what to do with it. We’re big soup fans so a soup was pretty quickly decided on but then we thought it needed a couple of toppings to really make it interesting! Fats once had a spiced cauliflower soup with toasted hazelnuts in a restaurant so we put them on the list and thought it would be a bit different if we kept the soup really simple and just had the spices in another topping – so a brown butter with plenty of spices was born! We’d never made cauliflower soup before, and certainly never made or had a topping like this, but it turned out so well – the soup was really velvety and creamy despite only having a dash of milk in it, and the toppings took it to the next level. Next time you’re craving some comfort food with a twist give this a try.


Ingredients for the soup – this made enough for about 3 portions but it would freeze really well:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, most of the stalk discarded and chopped into florets
  • Enough chicken stock to cover, around 500ml
  • About 100ml of milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the toppings:

  • 2 tbsp of chopped hazelnuts, lightly toasted
  •  1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella (black onion) seeds
  • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander

To make the soup simply heat the oil in a large saucepan then add in the onions and turn the heat right down. Cook for a couple of minutes until they are a little translucent – do not allow them to colour as you want this to be a pale soup. Add in the potato and the cauliflower, stir to coat in the oil and then add the stock. Bubble away for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft, take off the heat, add the milk and then blend with a stick blender adding seasoning to taste. And that’s it! Pretty nice so far but you want to take it up a notch…

Using the frying pan you used to toast the hazelnuts toast the mustard seeds and nigella seeds together over a medium-low heat until they start popping and then put them to one side. Add the butter to the hot pan and let it bubble up and turn a beautiful brown colour which will further intensify the hazelnut flavour. Once this has happened tip in a small pinch of salt, the ground spices and the toasted seeds, swirl together for a second and serve right away, with the toasted hazelnuts, on top of the soup.

It tastes a lot better than it looks... honest!
It tastes a lot better than it looks… honest!

How easy was that? So delicious and a bit of a change from the usual.

Chargrilled Chicken with Za’atar and Roasted Spiced Vegetables

Carrying on our Middle Eastern obsession we have another really simple dinner of griddled chicken with roasted vegetables and cous cous. This is quite similar to our za’atar steak recipe and is a great healthy yet filling option. It manages to be comforting enough for winter yet light enough for summer – these chicken breasts would be incredible cooked on a barbecue. This would also be delicious in a lunchbox or taken for a picnic, what a versatile dinner! You’ll see in the photos that we have 2 trays of vegetables – this was because we had veg to use up but in the ingredients we’ve given what should be enough for two people just to go with the dinner.


  • 1 aubergine, chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 1 courgette, chopped into 2cm cubes/rings
  • 1 red onion, sliced into thin wedges
  • 2 peppers, sliced into 3cm pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 heaped tsp ras el hanout
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 heaped tsp za’atar
  • Cous cous
  • Salt

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Place your vegetables in a roasting dish and coat with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the ras el hanout and a good pinch of sea salt. Toss the vegetables to coat them all in the oil and spices and then whack in the oven. These will take around 45 minutes to an hour to become perfectly soft and slightly charred around the edges. Stir them every 15 minutes or so and after around half an hour shake over the pomegranate molasses for the last part of cooking.

Roasted Moroccan Veg

For the chicken place the breasts between cling film, one at a time. Use the base of a large pan to bash them out until they are about 3cm thick and an even thickness all over. Once they’re both done heat up a griddle pan. Coat the breasts with a little olive oil and once the griddle pan is nice and hot place the chicken on. Let it cook on the first side for about 1 minute so that it can start charring and then turn over. On the side that you have already started to cook and is now facing up, sprinkle half of the za’atar so it coats the chicken. After 1 minute on the other side flip the chicken over again and sprinkle the rest of the za’atar on the other side. The chicken should take about 4 minutes on each side to cook so just keep an eye on it and turn it occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick. The sesame seeds in the za’atar should become lovely and toasted during this time… it smells amazing!

Chicken za'atar

Just before you’re ready to serve make some cous cous by placing it in a bowl, covering with boiling water (to about 1cm above the cous cous) and covering the bowl tightly with cling film. Leave it for about five minutes and you should have perfectly fluffy cous cous! Fluff it up with a fork and season with salt. Whack the whole lot on a warmed plate and you’re done! We sliced our chicken up before serving but that’s up to you – whatever you prefer.

Za'atar chicken done

This was lovely hot but would also be great cold – you could mix the vegetables into the cous cous and serve with the sliced chicken for a mid-week lunch to make your colleagues jealous!