Braised Moroccan Chicken and Olives

By • October 9, 2009 • 130 Comments

Author Notes: This flavorful dish was inspired by two of my favorite Moroccan ingredients- olives and preserved lemons. They work beautifully together in this dish to add a ton of flavor to the sauce. In addition, braising the chicken makes the meat wonderfully tender and juicy. Serve this dish over a bed of couscous to soak up all of the delicious sauce. Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Food52 Review: This is a pitch-perfect take on a classic dish. Sonali assembles a mouth-tingling spice mixture of ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cayenne, saffron and then adds green olives and preserved lemons to the party. The chicken is browned in oil (it's worth taking your time with this step, as you don't want it to burn) and then coated in the spice base before simmering gently in chicken stock until tender. Adding the lemons and olives towards the end helps retain their integrity and perfume. You may want to discard some of the fat after browning the chicken (this will depend on the meat you buy) -- we kept about 2 tablespoons. And couscous is a must. We used our favorite Israeli couscous (which Amanda blogged about a while back) and it was such a perfect foil for the rich, spicy sauce that we couldn't resist forking up every last grain. - A&MA&M

Serves 4

  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2.5 pounds chicken legs and thighs
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup small diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/2 cup green olives, rinsed
  • 2 preserved lemons, pulp removed; rind cut into strips
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet or over medium high heat. Dry the chicken pieces and season them with salt and pepper. Place them in the skillet in batches and brown on all sides. Remove the chicken and place on a plate.
  2. Add the onion to the skillet and cook until slightly softened. Add the ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric and cayenne pepper and stir together. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat with the spice mixture. Pour the chicken stock into the skillet so that 2/3 of the chicken is submerged. Add the saffron and stir to combine. Bring liquid to a simmer, cover the skillet and simmer on medium low heat 20-25 minutes. Add the olives and preserved lemons. Cover and cook another 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and turn the heat to high. Cook for another 6-8 minutes until sauce reduces slightly. Stir in the cilantro. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  3. Serve chicken on a bed of couscous. Spoon sauce over the top. Garnish with cilantro.
Jump to Comments (130)

Comments (130) Questions (3)


24 days ago Smw2170

I just made this last night and it was SO GOOD!!! I will definitely be adding this to the regular rotation of my go-to dishes, I'm so glad I found this!


about 1 month ago SweetTooth

Really excellent! I served it with black rice and I thought the sweetness of the rice complemented the sauce very well. Everyone thought it was delicious. There were several of us who did not care for green olives and we thought the olives were great. One thing I would say: if you are using "quick" preserved lemons, rinse them *very* well and use less salt on the chicken. The dish was a little salty between the lemons I used, the olives, and the chickens (I tended towards the semi-generous side for seasoning my chicken).


6 months ago Caroline Scriven

I just had this for dinner! It was wonderful.... served with rice. My hubby loved it too. Can't wait to give some to my neighbour tomorrow. YUMMY to the MAX


6 months ago Chef Bunky

If it is bitter, you may have had the heat too high and something burned on the bottom. However, you can add more broth, and try adding some honey or agave syrup to tone it down a bit. The prunes or dry apricots would need to be added at the beginning of the cooking process in order to benefit the sauce.


6 months ago Bali Miller

I just made this and reduced the sauce. While it is pretty -- my sauce is too spicy and bitter. Can you suggest what I can do? I am slightly desperate. I could pull out the chicken and add more broth and something to sweeten the sauce? Honey? Agave? Prunes?


6 months ago wisesamsmum

Hi Sonali, I finally made this after months of drooling over the pictures and procrastinating. I'm so mad that I waited this long, because it was truly divine! Would you believe it, my 17-month old ate it all up, chicken, sauce, olives and all and pronounced it 'nummy' (yummy). Thanks for a brilliant recipe!


8 months ago Muse

This sounds delicious...I have a question: can you use chicken breasts instead of thighs and dark meat? Thank you for posting your recipe...Peace, Light and Love.


8 months ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Yes, you can use chicken breast but I would use bone-in, skin on chicken breasts so that the meat doesn't dry out.


8 months ago LeeLeeBee

This recipe was a big hit! I used one and a half homemade preserved lemons, since mine were quite big, and omitted the saffron. I also added a handful of dried currants during the reduction of the sauce; I found that I needed a little sweetness to balance the saltiness and sourness of the lemons. I served it with vegetariannirvana's Citrus Olive Couscous (


11 months ago kschurms

I just made this tonight for a get together with friends, and despite some alterations, this was still delicious. Preserved lemons were substituted with regular + zest, and we didn't have any couscous, rice, etc. due to grain-free dietary restrictions. However, I saved the leftover sauce to mix in with Israeli couscous tomorrow because it was just that good! Cannot wait.


11 months ago david

That sounds great! How did you add the regular lemons?


11 months ago Gisele73

Made this for my birthday dinner. It was terrific, festive, not difficult, and introduced me to two ingredients I'd hesitated to try before, preserved lemons and saffron. Thanks!


11 months ago deborah

This was yummy! I didn't have any olives, preserved lemons or raisins so I used lemon zest and dried cranberries. Added a dash of white wine for the stock. I'm definitely going to make this again.


12 months ago mic79

tried it and it was GREEAT


about 1 year ago Shira Hopfer

how long does this take to make?


about 1 year ago Chef Bunky

This is a slow cooking dish in a tagine, it would take about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The prep time would be about 30 minutes. You cook at a very low temperature with a tagine. A very slow simmer using a heat diffuser. You could accomplish the same dish using a braising pot.


about 1 year ago Katie1

A wonderful recipe. I'll try it for my next home party. Everyone loves chicken!


about 1 year ago Chef Bunky

This is a wonderful Moroccan dish well suited for a tagine. I have made this dish and variations of it with lamb or beef many times using a tagine. It can be made in just about anything you can braise in with great success as many here have indicated. Maybe, not everyone would enjoy Moroccan food, but for those that do this is a great dish to make.


about 1 year ago Ileana Morales | a little saffron

Made this last night. It was wonderful!! Couldn't get my hands on preserved lemons, so we subbed in lemon zest and juice. Seriously delicious dinner. May throw in some golden raisins next time. Thanks for this recipe!


12 months ago Sandra

I love the idea of golden raisins added. Will try that next time. Ive done this recipe both with preserved lemons and lemon zest when out of preserved ones. Both turned out well.


about 1 year ago CristyLeeNYC

This was fantastic! The only place I deviated from the recipe was cook time (guests were late so I let it braise on the stovetop for a good long while before reducing the sauce). The chicken was succulent and flavorful, and the sauce was wonderful. Right before serving, I popped the entire dish under the broiler to re-crisp the skin. DUHlicious. I used a mix of green olive varieties, but my favorite were the Castelvetranos in this. Word of warning: The cayenne was too much for my husband (who had the misfortune of growing up in the Blandest House Ever and ate like a 5-year old until I met him). It's not a fiery burn, just a nice buzz on the back end. If you've got anyone who is particularly intolerant to heat, lighten up on the cayenne.


about 1 year ago Knokachoo

Thanks to The Wimpy Vegitarian...Kudos!


about 1 year ago Knokachoo

Just a comment. Was my first and probably my last. Didn't mean to offend anyone.


about 1 year ago TheWimpyVegetarian

No offense taken here, Knokachoo! I've been to culinary school, and I'm actually one of the ones that did get this (the herb picking, washing, etc) as my first job. But obviously not everyone in my class got this job; we didn't need THAT much herbs :-) LOL. I really, really hated it. Luckily, halfway through our culinary program we all got new assignments. My Chef told me I might have to keep the job if noone else wanted it. I told her, with all due respect of course, that I would pay cold hard cash to someone, anyone, to do it. Luckily it didn't get that far, but she got the point. There were no regulations that would have prevented me from doing it, and clearly I was done. Next, I got the lucky job of making sure all the flour, sugar, salts, and a long list of things was always filled in the kitchen and was ordered on time. I liked that a LOT better :-). Never be afraid of commenting here - we all have opinions, but it's a big, supportive group on the whole, and it's a great opportunity to connect to some of us here.


about 1 year ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

I agree with TheWimpyVegetarian and I appreciate you taking the time to comment on my dish!


about 1 year ago Knokachoo

I've never been to an official "Culinary School" but every time I am picking, washing, drying and chopping fresh herbs I think..."This must be the first job they give a student"...If they stick it out they must be serious!


about 1 year ago YoungChef23

Well I have been to culinary school and its not the first job they give you