Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Skewers

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As with the curry masalas of India, home cooks in North Africa blend their own unique mixture of spices for their personal recipes. This one highlights the use of cinnamon in savory dishes to add complexity. Quickly cooked and served with a simple herbed couscous, these skewers are achievable any day of the week.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • lb (625 g) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 cup (6 oz/185 g) instant couscous
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Method

Prepare a grill for direct grilling over high heat. While grill heats, soak 4 bamboo skewers in water to cover. Brush grill rack generously with oil.

In a small bowl, stir together cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic powder, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt. In a large bowl, toss chicken with oil to coat. Sprinkle with spice mixture and toss again to coat. Drain skewers. Thread chicken and bell pepper pieces onto skewers, dividing them evenly and pressing them together snugly. Place skewers on grill rack directly over hot coals or heat elements and cover. Grill, turning occasionally, until chicken is browned and feels firm when pressed, 8–10 minutes.

While chicken and peppers are grilling, in a small saucepan, combine cups (12 fl oz/375 ml) water and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in couscous and return to a boil. Cover tightly and remove from heat. Let stand until couscous absorbs water, about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Serve right away with couscous.