Chicken Hamin with Israeli Couscous and Butternut Squash

As the weather get warmer here, I like to start lightening up the dishes. My husband just returned from a two week trip where he only had fish, so I had to make a chicken dish before he started growing scales and gills. After the first successful attempt at making a hamin, I decided to try a summer recipe from Sherry Ansky’s Hamin cookbook.

This recipe just calls for chicken legs, israeli couscous, onions, and water, which sounded too bland for our taste, so I kicked it up a notch and added garlic, slices of butternut squash, Hungarian paprika, and ras el hanut. The dish was delicious and the sweetness of the butternut squash was a perfect addition. This dish can be made overnight or you can cook it for 4 hours and serve it on Friday night like I did. The best part of this dish is that you line the pan with parchment paper, so there is easy cleanup; no muss and no fuss.

Chicken Hamin with Israeli Couscous and Butternut Squash
Adapted from a recipe in Hamin (in Hebrew) by Sherry Ansky
  • 1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
  • 2 large onions coarsely chopped
  • 6 whole cloves garlic
  • 2 rounded tablespoons Hungarian paprika
  • 1 rounded tablespoon ras el hanut
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 500 g 1lb Israeli couscous (ptitim)
  • 4 cups of water and another 1/2 cup
  1. Preheat oven to 100C (200F) for overnight cooking or 150C (300F) for 4 hours cooking.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan that has a lid over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute until lightly brown. Add the whole garlic, paprika, ras el hanut, salt and pepper; stir for a couple of minutes. Add the Israeli couscous and lightly toast it, stirring constantly. Add the water, cover, and cook the couscous for 8 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the butternut squash in half vertically, keeping the peel on, and seed it removing all of the stringy parts. Then, cut the squash horizontally into 6mm (1/4 inch) slices. Set aside.
  4. Line a large clay pot, or other large roasting dish that has a cover, with parchment paper. Place half of the couscous mixture in the bottom of the pan, patting it down to make sure you have an even layer, and then add a layer of butternut squash slices. Add all of the chicken on top of the butternut squash, and then layer with rest of the butternut squash. Place the rest of the couscous mixture on top and add the remaining 1/2 cup of water. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the pan and cover tightly with the lid.
  5. Place in the oven and cook overnight or for 4 hours at the higher temperature. Invert on a platter for presentation.
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Written by Baroness Tapuzina

Michelle Nordell (aka Baroness Tapuzina) was a foodie from the womb growing up in the House of Weird Vegetables, so named by a family friend because all of the unusual and exotic food cooked and eaten there. She loves to change recipes using herbs from her garden and spices from the spice shops she enjoys visiting.

7 thoughts on “Chicken Hamin with Israeli Couscous and Butternut Squash

  1. I bought Sherry Ansky’s Hamin book during a recent trip to Israel and today I tried this exact recipe. I think next time I might add some extra spices, like you did, as it was a little bland, but the chicken was extremely moist and tender and all in all I would definitely try this again. It made a really nice change and I am looking forward to experimenting with the other chulents in the book, most of which are pretty exotic from where I’m sitting….,
    It’s a beautiful book, by the way, and what a great concept.

    1. Hi Miriam,

      She does have some unusual recipes which convinced me to finally try making Hamin. I have tried two of the recipes and have been pleased with both of them. She was on Chaim Cohen’s “Garlic, Pepper and Olive Oil” cookery programme a year ago and cooked several different Hamin with Chaim at her house. She is so passionate about this dish, you couldn’t help but want to try one.

  2. This sounds fantastic, with your additions of butternut squash, garlic and spice. I would think the squash would be more enjoyable the way you cooked it for 4 hours, and that it might disintegrate if left overnight (though the sauce would still be yummy).

  3. Hi Faye,

    It really was delicious. I think you are right about the squash disintegrating. I didn’t think about that. I would like to make another variation of it with artichoke hearts and baharat.

  4. This meal is in the oven right now, and will be ready for Yom Tov dinner. We opened it up at noon to make sure nothing was burning. It seems pretty fine in there.

    The whole trailer (caravan) smells good.

    I don’t think I have enough salt in the mix, but that can be remedied at the table.

    I’ll report back after eating (actually, after Yom Tov and Shabbat).

  5. We really enjoyed the dish, but I think I made a few errors somewhere along the line. I want to emphasize that I’m not criticizing the original recipe, just adding my impressions on how it came out for me. Any errors in following the instructions are mine.

    I felt that the dish could have had more liquid in it. It got very pasty and stuck together. The instructions call for 1/2 cup of water added before putting in the oven, but I think that it should have had water, or maybe some chicken stock, during the cooking process. (If not making it as a cholent overnight on Shabbat.) When we reheated it the next day, I added a liberal amount of chicken stock, and microwaved it until the center of mass read 140 deg F. It was excellent.

    I may have had the oven too hot for a 12 hour cooking period. I didn’t have a good oven thermometer until mid-day, at which time I found that my 200 deg (f) oven was at 275 or so.

    The chicken got very soft, and hard to separate from the mix, for serving. Several pieces of chicken fell apart. That’s fine, but one must be prepared for bones embedded in the mixed squash and Ptitim..

    The recipe really requires salt. I undersalted, and I think that the squash and Ptitim absorbed all the salt I provided. The chicken stock the second day was a great help.

    The burned, crunchy Ptitim on the bottom were really good

    Had I used about half the squash and Ptitim — dayenu.

    1. Hi Ed,

      I am happy that you mostly liked the dish. I think 275 was a bit too high for 12 hour cooking. I only cooked mine for 4 hours, so you are probably right, it might have needed a little more liquid. What kind of pot did you use? It is really hard to gauge how much salt to use. I am a bit conservative with the salt because kosher chicken tends to be on the salty side. It sounds like to me that this hamin should not be prepared for true Shabbat overnight cooking. I will have to try it as an experiment and see what adjustments need to be made. I appreciate your comments. It is always good to hear the good and the bad of any recipe I blog about.

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