Casablanca Chicken and Fig Cous Cous
As a photographer I love watching old movies for inspiration. One of my favourites is Casablanca. The way they played with light—deep, long shafts of light, small whispery slivers of light, soft touches of light on eyelashes and hair. It’s beautiful. I feel as though because they only had black and white film to work with it forced them to really play with the light. It’s beautiful to watch.
I thought I’d create a Moroccan-inspired dish straight from Casablanca, the kind that might be on the menu at the intoxicating nightclub that serves as the backdrop for most of the film. I can just imagine the spicy aromatic flavours filling the air as they smoke cigars and drink whisky. The heady blend of rich spices and sweet dried fruits is one of the reasons I love Moroccan food, so I’ve also added the delightful baked figs and a handful of currants to this dish. Here is the delicious mixture …
2 organic chicken breasts (I always source meat from our local ethical butcher) Grass Roots Urban Butcher
8 fresh figs
a small bunch of baby carrots
a bunch of coriander
For the marinade
3 teaspoons of Himalayan rock salt
3 teaspoons of dried crushed chillies
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
3 teaspoons of paprika
3 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of dried ginger
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
I teaspoon of black mustard seeds
Put all ingredients into a mortar and pestle and grind up to a rough mixture then add to the diced chicken in a bowl along with a couple of good lugs of olive oil. Leave to rest awhile.
Add the marinated chicken, baby carrots and fresh figs to a baking dish and put in the oven at 180 degrees
For the cous cous
1 small onion
half a red capsicum
a small handful of currants
a small handful of sliced almonds
1 stock cube
1 1/2 cups of cous cous
Fry the onions, capsicum and shallots until they’re soft and then add the almonds and currants, stirring slowly to brown.
Add the mixture to a bowl with the cous cous and fold them together.
Dissolve the stock cube in a cup of boiling water and add it to the cous cous mixture. Add boiling water until the cous cous is just covered.
Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and a plate so that no steam can escape and let it rest for 8 minutes. Fluff the cous cous with a fork and serve with the chicken and figs from the oven.
Garnish with coriander.
Recipe and photography by Nina Gibbs