Pomegranate and Harissa Roast Chicken with Fragrant Coconut Rice


I’m a pusher.

I push you beyond your comfort zone at times and, if you follow me, it will reward you ten times and over.

So what is Harissa? Where do you even get Pomegranate Molasses?  Am I making you get your butt off your couch and seek adventure?


Food is about adventure. If you make the same thing every week and never discover new terrain, maybe you should ask yourself, “am I really living?

Maybe you haven’t been. Maybe you’ve been dead inside for a very long time and that zombie apocalypse everyone is always talking about came for you years before it became a Comic-Con fad.

I’m here to resurrect you. 

Another bit of good news – yes this chicken takes an hour and a half to cook. BUT. You don’t have to do anything once it’s in the oven! Go relax, drink a bottle of wine (or a glass…whatever your preferred volume is…), walk the dogs. Do whatever. But DO treat yourself to this easy, gratifying dinner.

So, I realize that not everyone is me. Not everyone has an insane arsenal of Middle Eastern flavors in their pantry, but I guarantee you – I found every single one of these ingredients in my neighborhood grocery store. I didn’t go to a specialty ethnic store at all! So, there! At least there is that!

The pomegranate molasses used here is sweet, tart, and sticky. I’m a bit in love. This is my first time using it and I kind of want to bathe myself in it.

But I’ll spare you those details.

The harissa is a Middle Eastern pepper, garlic, and paprika paste.  This paste dons my eggs, burritos, rice, and everything else. I use it so much, I can’t bear to be without it. If you’re a fan of Sriracha – welcome to your new obsession.

Together, they make something beautiful.The chicken caramelizes in the oven with these redolent sauces slathered all over it  and it is a perfect mate for the aromatic coconut rice.

*Cooks Note – If you ABSOLUTELY cannot find these ingredients, I’m not a dictator when it comes to food. You can make your own pomegranate molasses by reducing pomegranate juice until thick and syrupy. You can substitute the harissa with half the amount of Sriracha, a clove of minced garlic, and a tsp of paprika. It won’t be quite the same, but you’ll get the same aromas of the original chicken.


Pomegranate and Harissa Roast Chicken With Fragrant Coconut Rice

What You’ll Need:

For the Chicken:

  • 1 4-5lb Whole Chicken
  • 2 tblsp of olive oil
  • 2 tblsp of pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tblsps of harissa
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp of ground thyme
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Coconut Rice:

  • 2 cups of basmati rice
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 a red chili with seeds kept in (or a whole, small chili), diced
  • 1/2 tblsp of fresh grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 a medium onion, diced.
  • 1/2 cup of golden sultana raisins (optional)
  1. Place the oven rack  in the middle of your oven. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Place your whole chicken, patted dry, into a a greased roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper it all over.  Set aside while you make the dressing. In a bowl, put all of your spices, pomegranate molasses, harissa, and olive oil in a bowl and mix until well combined. Slather it all over your chicken and put it into your preheated oven and roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the juices run clear.
  3. 30 minutes before the chicken is ready to come out, start making your rice.  In a medium pot, heat a tblsp of olive oil and saute your onions, chili, garlic, and ginger. Crumble in your two bouillon cubes and stir that around in the heat. Once the onions are translucent and the mixture smells fragrant, pour in your 2 cups of rice and stir it so that the aromatic oil slicks every grain. Pour your coconut milk and water into the rice, along with the raisins, and bring it to a boil. Once it is at a boil, cover the pot and turn the heat down low so that it simmers. Let it simmer for 15-20 mins until all the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Once you take the chicken out of the oven, let it rest for at least 5 minutes.
  5. Rip apart savagely and eat heaps of rice along with it.


Gosh, this dinner makes me shiver with delight. It has all my favorite scents and tastes. I feel like I’m in Samarkand, at the crossroads of the Spice Trade.


All the beautiful pictures were taken by Nick W.

2 thoughts on “Pomegranate and Harissa Roast Chicken with Fragrant Coconut Rice

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