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Egyptian Roast Chicken, stuffed with couscous and served with a red sauce:
Djej M'Ahmar

What's the big idea?

Popular throughout northern Africa, the marinades, stuffing and sauce vary from country to country, but the basic idea is fairly consistent. In fact, even the choice of poultry varies enormously too - pigeon is sometimes used, quail is very popular, but we chose to use chicken here because it is so readily available. Timings below are based on a 3½lb (1.5kg) chicken. For larger poultry, allow an extra 20 minutes roasting time per lb.

Shopping List

Here's the list of what you need:

  • One whole oven-ready chicken, of a size suitable for the number of guests
  • 8oz couscous
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2oz pine nuts
  • 2oz sultanas
  • 2oz whole almonds or cashew nuts
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 4 tablespoons of clear honey
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
  • ½ pint chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée

What To Do

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C/Gas 5
  • Cut slashes into the skin/flesh of the chicken
  • Cook the couscous as directed on the packet. Season well with salt and plenty of black pepper, and a tablespoon of butter
  • Mix the pine nuts, sultanas and almonds or cashew nuts into the couscous
  • Stuff the chicken with the couscous mixture - keep any leftover aside and serve later with the chicken
  • Mix together the turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin and dried mint, and rub into the outside of the chicken
  • Put the chicken in a roasting tin and place in the oven
  • After 20 minutes, inspect the chicken and glaze it with 4 tablespoons of clear honey
  • Return the chicken to the oven. Roast for a further hour and a half, basting every 15 minutes with the marinade/chicken juices/honey
  • Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a pan, and add the paprika and whole cumin seeds. Fry for 1 minute
  • Add the chicken stock and tomato puree. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Leave the chicken to stand for a final 15 minutes before serving with the sauce separately

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