The holiday may be over, but thankfully, our famed South African summer days are not. Given that January and February are notoriously the hottest months of the year, this alfresco-style midweek supper is like golden sunshine on your plate. Whether you grill the kebabs over the open coals for that deep, smoky flavour or cook them on the stove-top, they are
finger-licking, oh, yes, that’s been taken, ok then, lip-smackingly, gorgeous! I serve them with an epic bulgur wheat salad, that’s a meal in itself. Packed with carrots, sweet peppers, nuts, dried fruit, feta and drizzled with a tangy orange dressing, this is hardly a text book salad.
Here’s what I generally look for in a great meal – visual interest, texture, colour and well balanced flavours, all of which you’ll find here. The kebabs or sosaties, if you will, are succulent and tender, spiced with earthy aromatics and a twist of citrusy sharpness that contrasts well with the sweetness of the fruited nut salad. There’s definitely a Middle Eastern type of vibe happening here, which is just my favourite way to eat. Ever!
The bulgur wheat salad is an excellent vegetarian dish, but simultaneously, ideal as a side, served with barbecued meat or chicken. It also makes easy picnic food and packed lunches. You may have noticed, I’m rather big on the whole packed lunch issue, as bland flat whites (sandwiches, that is), are not quite as inspiring or nutritious. Make double and add some shredded chicken, roast butternut and a creamy goat’s cheese as an alternative.
So, sticking with my story of sustainable good-health foods, try this on for deliciousness. I’m sure it’ll be a perfect fit.
Paprika and coriander spiced chicken kebabs with carrot and nut bulgur wheat salad
For the chicken kebabs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
a generous pinch of red chilli flakes
zest of 1 lemon and the juice of half
salt and pepper
12 boneless, skinned chicken thighs
To cook the kebabs, heat a griddle pan until hot. Add the kebabs and cook until well coloured on one side. Continue to cook and turn until all the sides have good charring and the chicken is cooked through. Degalze the pan with a generous spritz of lemon juice and a quarter cup of water. Reduce down by half and turn the kebabs around in the juices until well coated.
Serve immediately with the salad and lemon wedges on the side. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but always remember to serve a grain salad at room temperature for best flavour. Fridge-cold grains will not yield the best results.
For the bulgur salad
200g bulgur wheat
25g golden sultanas
1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
2 large carrots, coarsely grated
1 small red and yellow sweet peppers, cut into slithers
zest and juice of 1 lemon
juice of half an orange (about 45ml)
2 tablespoons olive oil
a generous pinch of castor sugar
half a teaspoon ground coriander
1 small pack wild rocket, finely chopped
a good handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
half a cup mixed nuts and pumpkin seeds, pan roasted
30g dried cranberries
100g feta, crumbled
For the chicken kebabs, start with the marinade. Whisk together the olive oil, coriander, paprika, chilli flakes, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Cut each chicken thigh portion into 4 and thread onto the wooden skewers. Rub the marinade into the chicken and place in a non-metallic dish, cover and set aside for at least half an hour. If you have the time, leave to marinade overnight in the refrigerator.
To make the salad, start by placing the bulgur wheat, currants and sultanas in a heatproof bowl, season lightly with salt and add the dry stock powder. Pour over just enough boiling water to cover, about half a centimetre above the wheat level. Give it a good stir through and cover with cling film. Set aside to rehydrate for 15 minutes. Now fluff and separate the grains with a fork. Add the grated carrot and sweet peppers to the bowl.
For the salad dressing, whisk together the lemon zest, the juice of both the lemon and orange, olive oil, sugar, coriander, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the wheat and toss together. Add the rocket, parsley, feta and cranberries. Check the seasoning and adjust with either a little extra Maldon sea salt, lemon juice or a grinding of black pepper. Turn the salad out onto a large serving platter and scatter over the toasted nuts.