It wouldn’t be the holidays, without the mandatory feeling of guilt that follows it in early January. And these days I find myself in that very same predicament. My brain tells me that I have to stay away from the sweet stuff for a little while but my heart insists that I have to turn that solitary chocolate bar in the cupboard into a pudding or a custard or melt it into something else entirely. On days that I make something really great for dinner though, I don’t miss the chocolate as much. And this Dukkah spiced Grilled Chicken with Tabbouleh is certainly one of those meals that’s bursting with amazing flavours that will satisfy your gut and your taste buds in every way possible!
I have talked about the Dukkah spice mix in a separate post which you can find here, home-made Almond-chilli Dukkah spice. It’s an incredibly versatile and adaptable recipe and many people have their own version. This is mine. You can sprinkle it on meat or roasted vegetables, or on flatbread or spice up a nice appetizer with some crostini, olive oil and balsamic. The possibilities are endless.
Tabbouleh is one of my favourite salads to eat. In New Zealand, kebab shops are very popular and I used to love having kebab for lunch when I went out with my family. Delicious lamb or chicken from the spit, carved thin, with salad, tabbouleh, hummus and our choice of extra sauces was an incredibly delicious meal that we always looked forward to. Usually the distinguishing factor between each of our lunches was the messily written sauce names. I always always ask for yoghurt and chilli. Not sure why I was never brave enough or tempted enough to try other sauces, but I loved that combination!
I never really realized how easy it was to make tabbouleh, until I started making it recently. I love the look of it, especially when it’s in a bowl with the diced tomatoes to add some lovely colour.
This tabbouleh also got me thinking about how there are so many different versions of similar food in different cultures. Growing up in Sri Lanka, I used to eat chopped leaves and herbs like a salad which was called “Mallung,” usually made with silverbeet or swisschard or my favourite centella or gotukola. Tabbouleh is a seemingly Lebanese version of this made with parsley and mint. There is no direct link between this and what I used to eat in Sri Lanka far as I know, but each seems to have independently found a significant place in their respective food cultures. What’s similar about both though is how they seem to taste even better the next day! Tabbouleh has quickly become a favourite meal accompaniment in our house now.
Without a spit roaster it is really difficult to replicate that succulent shaved meat of kebab. I have tried, and then tried some more and failed miserably. A spit roaster is on my wish list however and hopefully one day I will conquer that sucker. Till then though I am perfectly content with grilled chicken breast! Especially with a tasty and generous sprinkling of dukkah spice and when the meat is still nice and juicy inside. When a spice (like dukkah) is good enough to eat on its own, you know that it’s going to make anything else it comes into contact with, taste amazing as well!
If you are vegetarian or have gluten or nut allergies, I have included some options at the end of this post to make this recipe more allergy-friendly 🙂
Dukkah Grilled Chicken with Tabbouleh
- 6 oz flat leaf parsley
- 1 oz of mint leaves
- 5 oz of roma tomatoes chopped into small cubes
- 4 tbsp Bulghur wheat or 4 tbsp cous cous uncooked
- 1 oz about 3 stalks green onions
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tbsp of lemon juice 1 lemon, more to taste
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp Allspice
- Salt and pepper to taste
Dukkah Grilled Chicken
- 2 Large chicken breasts butterflied
- 1/4 cup of Almond - Chilli Dukkah Seasoning or Store-bought
- Salt and pepper
- Oil to pan fry
- Hummus homemade or store-bought
- Ice berg lettuce wedges
- Wash and cut/dice roma tomatoes (in to small cubes).
- Place the diced tomatoes in a strainer and let the excess tomato juice drain out for about 30 minutes (this is an optional step to ensure that the tabbouleh will have less liquid).
- In a heat-proof bowl, place the Bulghur wheat or cous cous and sprinkle about ½ tsp of salt on top.
- Soak in boiling water according to the instructions on the packet. Drain water, fluff with a fork and set aside.
- Wash and pat dry the parsley and mint.
- Chop the herbs finely using a sharp knife (See Note).
- Wash the green onions and slice them finely.
- Place the chopped herbs, diced tomatoes, green onions and bulghur/cous cous in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, allspice, a pinch of salt and pepper till well combined.
- Pour the lemon juice and oil mix it into the chopped parsley and toss to coat evenly. Add more salt, pepper or lemon juice to taste (See Note)
- Leave the tabbouleh covered in the fridge till you're ready to serve - at least 1 hour to let the flavours "mingle".
Dukkah Grilled Chicken
- Butterfly-cut the chicken breast so they have an even thickness (alternatively you can use the smooth side of a meat hammer to pound the chicken breast into an even thickness).
- Drizzle a little oil and rub it on the surface of the chicken and sprinkle 1 tbsp of the Dukkah seasoning on each of the chicken breast (both sides).
- Keep it covered and let it marinate for at least an hour (or overnight in the fridge)
- If the chicken was kept in the fridge - leave it out for 30 minutes to return to room temperature before cooking them.
- Sprinkle the left over 2 tbsp of dukkah seasoning evenly over the two chicken breasts, on both sides. If the chicken breasts are larger, feel free to sprinkle more spice. You want a nice generous coating of the seasoning on the chicken.
- Preheat your grill pan or non stick pan on medium high heat and brush some oil on the surface when it is hot to prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan when you are cooking it.
- Cook 1 chicken breast at a time in the heated grill pan for 4-5 minutes per side for a total of 8-10 minutes or until the internal temperature registers exactly 160°F (when measured with a kitchen thermometer).
- Place cooked chicken breast on a plate and sprinkle a pinch of salt and let it rest (covered) for about 5 minutes.
- Cut the chicken into strips or in half to serve four people.
- Personally I love serving this dish on a large platter so that all the flavours mingle together and each person can help themselves.
- The tabbouleh acts as a dressing for the lettuce or salad leaves and can be served together with sliced grilled chicken on the side.
- Hummus really elevates the flavours in this meal and is a fantastic side dish. So I highly recommend it.
Notes for Parsley and Mint - The parsley can be chopped ahead of time just like the tomatoes. They will stay fresh in the fridge for up to a day if stored properly. Parsley should be stored in an air tight container while tomatoes can be kept in a strainer set over a bowl and covered well with plastic wrap. Mint can discolour if chopped too early, but I chopped my mint a day early and it seemed perfectly fine overnight in an airtight container.
Notes for adding Lemon Juice - The amount of lemon to be added depends on your taste. I recommend adding juice of half a lemon first and adding more if you prefer more.
What I really love about this tabbouleh is that it can act as a dressing as well thanks to all those beautiful flavours. So you can just go ahead and dunk a big spoonful of tabbouleh right over your salad or lettuce. I do highly recommend hummus with this meal too! The creamy hummus perfectly complements the citrus and herby freshness of the tabouleh and also the smokiness of the chicken.
The chicken breast when cooked perfectly is just so very juicy too. My family thinks that I’m a little strange in that I prefer eating the white meat (breast) over the dark meat (thigh) of chicken. But I just love how juicy and delicious it can be when cooked perfectly. Is there anyone else out there who prefers the white meat over the dark meat of chicken? If so, please join me in solidarity!
That being said, you can definitely grill chicken thighs or legs (or any dark meat) just as well. I have cooked this with lamb with equally great results. So it’s versatile enough to be used with any type of protein.
As promised here are some other options.
Gluten Free option – Substitute the Bulghur or Couscous with Cauliflower cous-cous (like I used it in this post). It would add another lovely flavour profile to this meal. Or you can omit it altogether. I have made it that way too and still loved it!
Vegetarian option – Instead of chicken… just one word, falafel! I love falafel! You can get falafel in supermarkets or make your own. I have been guilty of buying falafels for meals and then finishing them off before I could ever use them for dinner.
Nut Free option – Please feel free to make the Dukkah without the nuts. The flavours will still be there. I won’t lie, I really like the subtle almond flavour, but it still tastes amazing without the almonds.