Ainsley Harriott’s harissa lemon chicken skewers with aubergines

While in Morocco, I just had to cook a dish using harissa − the delicious North African paste made from chillies and fragrant spices. The tang of preserved lemons works beautifully in a spicy marinade and these chicken skewers and fire-glazed cumin and honey aubergines certainly went down a treat with the crew. This harissa marinade is also great with lamb or vegetables.

Ainsley Harriott Harissa lemon chicken skewers
Dan Jones

SERVES 4 FOR THE SKEWERS

2 tbsp Greek yogurt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet/hot smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 heaped tbsp Moroccan harissa paste
1 preserved lemon, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2.5cm cubes

FOR THE AUBERGINES

4 baby aubergines, quartered
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp runny honey
good pinch each of salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

FOR THE GARLIC MINT SAUCE

6 tbsp Greek yogurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
juice of 1/2 lemon
sea salt

TO SERVE

sweet/hot smoked paprika
pitta breads
a few mint sprigs, to garnish
lemon wedges

1. Preheat a barbecue or a griddle pan over a medium-high heat. If not using the barbecue, also preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

2. First, marinate the chicken for the skewers. In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic, harissa paste, preserved lemon, olive oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Toss the chicken cubes in the marinade until coated, then cover and leave to marinate for at least 20 minutes.

3. For the glazed aubergines, place the aubergine wedges in a separate bowl, add the cumin and honey and mix together until coated. Season with a good pinch each of salt and pepper then drizzle with the oil and mix again.

4. Next, make the garlic mint sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients, except the salt, until well combined. Season with salt to taste and set aside.

5. Thread the chicken on to four skewers and place on the hot barbecue or griddle pan. Cook for 5-6 minutes, then turn to cook the other side for a further 4-6 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

6. Meanwhile, place the aubergines on to the barbecue and cook for 8-10 minutes, turning regularly, until golden and soft. If not using a barbecue, pop the aubergines on to a baking tray and into the oven for 15-20 minutes.

7. Serve the chicken skewers and glazed aubergines with the garlic mint sauce on the side, sprinkled with a little smoked paprika, plus pitta breads, a few sprigs of mint and some lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Get 20 per cent off the book

Ainsley's Mediterranean CookbookAinsley’s Mediterranean Cookbook by Ainsley Harriott will be published on 26 March by Ebury Press, price £20. To preorder a copy for £16 with free p&p until 5 April, go to mailshop.co.uk or call 01603 648155.