Chef Tom shares a Crowd Favourite

This is a crowd fave. Hearty, spicy and exotic. Berbere, an Ethiopian spice blend, is one of my go-to flavor boosters. Aromatic, complex and as spicy as you please. Making your own is ambitious, so plan ahead to use it up within six months. You can find an excellent recipe here.

Or just go to a Whole Foods or local grocery store that has a good variety of spices (like in the little green boxes) and buy the two tablespoons you’ll need for this recipe. If you’re patient, order some here.

And, of course, couscous. One of the easiest things to cook ever. Many times I have just added the liquid at room temp and just let it completely absorb, then fluff it all with a fork. Stock or water, depending on the flavor I need. No cooking needed and it’s ready within twenty minutes. The “jeweled” part can be any combo of dried fruit and nuts you prefer.


Raw Eggplant

Roasted Eggplant

African Spiced Chicken with Roasted Eggplant, Cilantro and Chili’s

Serves 6 (or a hungry 3)

6 large Chicken Thighs (bone in)

1/4 cup olive Oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 T. Berbere spice mix

1/4 cup fresh ginger (peeled and grated fine)

2 whole jalapeños, seeds removed and sliced thin
(keep seeds if you like it spicy)

2 T. fresh garlic (finely chopped)

1/4 bunch mint leaves (roughly chopped, reserve 6 small sprigs for garnish)

1/4 bunch cilantro leaves (roughly chopped, reserve 6 small sprigs for garnish)

3 long Chinese eggplants, split and cut into quarters

1 whole lemon, wedged into 6 pieces

1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt

Slice the eggplant lengthwise, brush with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in an oven dish and bake in the oven until golden and soft. Remove and keep warm.

Do a simple brine (4 cups water, ½ cup kosher salt, ¼ cup sugar) for the chicken thighs for one hour. Drain and dry well.

Preheat oven to 375.

Spice chicken with olive oil, Berbere spices, ginger, garlic, jalapeños, mint and cilantro.

Roast chicken for 20 minutes or until well browned and internal temp is at least 120.

To serve, place two slices of roasted eggplant in the center of each plate, add a chicken thigh, and a dollop of yoghurt. Finish by garnishing with a few coriander leaves, fresh mint and a wedge of lemon. Serve with Jeweled Couscous.


Jeweled Couscous

Serves 6

2 cups couscous

½ cup dried apricots, sliced into slivers

½ cup dried cranberries (or golden raisins, or both)

1/3 cup toasted pistachios (or toasted almond slivers)

4 cups chicken bone broth (or stock)

Salt and pepper to taste

Place all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. About 20 minutes before serving the chicken, bring the stock to a boil and pour over the couscous. Cover and let sit so that the grain soaks up the liquid. Wait until you can’t see any liquid and the grain has fully absorbed the stock.

Fluff with a fork, season with salt and pepper and serve.


Chef Tom is currently Resident Chef for a small tech firm in San Francisco. He also teaches cooking classes, caters small parties and leads overseas culinary tours. His specialty for the last twelve years has been cooking for people with food allergies and sensitivities. His motto is “Food should give you pleasure, not pressure.”

2 Responses to “Chef Tom shares a Crowd Favourite”

  1. Peter Montreuil Says:

    The only thing I don’t like about your column, Tom, is that I’m hungry after I read it. Well done, sir!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: