I’ve never know anyone to have the same birthday as me except for the Algerian born French writer Albert Camus. His book “The Stranger” haunted me in high school.
When I was just out of high school my father had a massive heart attack and died. As I waited for the ambulance to come… the opening line of “The Stranger” came into my head. “Mother [father] died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure.” The meaning of this line struck me. I never understood how unstuck in time you become when a loved one dies.
Because of my love for Camus I have always been mildly curious about Algeria and France’s relationship with this country… it has been complex to say the least.
I had never looked at Algeria’s cuisine and when I read the original recipe: Chicken Couscous I thought that it’s inspiration might be Algerian. When I looked up Algerian chicken stews it seems that my suspicious were pretty accurate.
I decide to simplify this recipe by reducing the seasoning to just Harissa I bought a dried version of this spice mix. I used boneless, skinless chicken because to me if you aren’t crisping the skin why bother with it at all. I kept the vegetables the same except I did not put in a leek. It just seemed too French. I served the stew over quinoa because I have a wheat allergy and can’t have couscous.
The stew was a big hit, everyone loved the Harissa flavoring. The chickpeas and raisins were an interesting touch that the whole family found rather exotic. It is amazing how you can use a different spice mix, and put together ingredients that you don’t usually combine…and suddenly you are in a strange land, enjoying an entirely new cuisine.
- 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 onions chopped
- 3 celery stalks chopped
- 3 carrots chopped
- 2 small turnips chopped
- 1 large zucchini chopped
- 15 ounce can of chickpeas with liquid
- 1/4 cup of golden raisins
- 1 tablespoon of dried Harissa
- 3/4 cup of chicken broth
- 1/4 cup of melted unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper