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Grapefruit chicken

Even in the not so great light of this photo, this dish glows! The colour is mostly from turmeric, but I like to think it’s partly from the grapefruit juice and zest, as citrus are always such a vibrant part of these dull cold months. The flavour is also very fresh, and a nice contrast to many of the heavy stews we tend to eat in winter.

fry chicken and turmeric

I like grapefruit, but they’re not a fruit I think of using often in cooking. However, my parents have a grapefruit tree, and last year (and this year as well) they gave me a pile of them. I ate a few, but was also looking for ways to cook with them, and this uses the juice, and also the zest, of a whole grapefruit. (Side note here to say I love recipes that use both juice and zest of citrus – using just one or the other always feels wasteful.) Note also that I’ve tried both yellow and ruby grapefruit for this, and both work well.

fry onion and spices

I’m not sure what the origin of this dish is – it’s a Nadiya Hussain recipe I saw her demonstrate on one of her TV shows. It seems a bit Moroccan, and perhaps a little bit Indian in flavouring as well, and the method is almost French! Wherever it comes from, it’s really simple and quick to make, and the juice based sauce makes it lighter than some of the other chicken dishes I make.

squeeze in grapefruit juice

Now I’m sure some of you are thinking, I really don’t like grapefruit, can’t I use something else? Well you probably could use an orange, but I encourage you to try the grapefruit, as it really isn’t as overpowering as you would expect. Perhaps it’s because there’s already a slight bitter or earthy edge to the spices like turmeric and cumin, but the bitterness of the grapefruit is quite muted, and instead you just get a freshness that mixes perfectly with the spices and the sweetness from the onion. Any green vegetable would work well on the side, and you could try rice instead of the couscous – so do give it a try!

grapefruit chicken with couscous

Grapefruit chicken with couscous 

Adapted, very slightly, from a Nadiya Hussain recipe

  • 1kg skinless boneless chicken thighs, diced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric, extra
  • 1 large grapefruit, juiced and zest grated
  • 500ml hot water
  • 3 tsp cornflour mixed with 2 Tbs water
  • large handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 400g couscous
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 400ml boiling water

Toss the chicken in a bowl with the one teaspoon of turmeric. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, and cook chicken until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and add the final spoon of oil, plus the onion and salt. Reduce heat and cook the onion gently until softened, then add the garlic, cumin, chilli and extra turmeric, cooking for a couple of minutes until aromatic.

Return the chicken to the pan and increase the heat, then add the grapefruit juice and zest, scraping to get all the browned juices from the bottom of the pan. Add the hot water, and then the cornflour mixture, stirring thoroughly to ensure it’s evenly mixed through. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the chicken is tender and juices lightly thickened.

When chicken is ready, make the couscous. Either follow packet directions, or put couscous in a large heat proof (and microwave proof) jug or bowl. Add salt and butter and pour over water. Quickly stir with a fork to melt and distribute butter, then cover with a lid and leave for five minutes. Fluff with the fork, heat for a minute in the microwave, then fluff again.

Serve chicken over couscous and topped with parsley, and with green beans or similar on the side.

Serves 4-6 depending on side dishes and appetites