Moroccan Chicken with Lemon, Saffron, and Green Olives

Moroccan Chicken

Moroccan cuisine is a personal favorite. The country’s location, with coastline on both the North Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, helped it become a mecca of trade with other cultures and nations over the course of millennia. While Moroccan food harnesses culinary influences from Andalusia, North Africa, and the Mediterranean, the resulting cuisine features deep, complex flavors that are truly unique to the region.

This hearty stew is based off a classic North African tagine. The long, slow cooking time and meltingly tender meat lends the dish a warm, homey taste, but the spices, lemon, and herbs create a burst of freshness equally at home on the patio on a warm summer evening. If you have access to a tagine pot, the traditional earthenware vessel that gives the dish its name, count yourself lucky. The distinctive conical shape creates unparalleled succulence. For a time-honored accompaniment, serve tagine with couscous, but if you’re looking for something less refined, quinoa, millet, or amaranth would make a delicious substitute.

The addition of saffron, a spice commonly found in Spanish and Moroccan cuisine, is another thing that makes this such a special dish. For thousands of years, humans have used saffron for medicinal, ceremonial, and epicurean purposes. Now it’s the world’s most prized and expensive spice, worth more per ounce than gold. Unfortunately, there’s not much use trying to find a substitute—no other spice can replicate the vibrant golden hue and purely distinctive taste imparted by saffron. It’s expensive, but thankfully a little goes a very long way. And because this uncomplicated dish gives saffron the perfect chance to shine, the purchase is more than worth it.

Moroccan Chicken with Lemon, Saffron, and Green Olives

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30–90 minutes
Serves 4

1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon paprika
⅛ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon salt
8 bone-in chicken thighs or 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut in large serving sizes
1 tablespoon or more butter
1 tablespoon or more olive oil
2 onions, sliced
1 large pinch saffron
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup green olives, halved
1 cup cilantro, chopped


  1. Combine all spices (except saffron) and salt together in a small bowl. Rub spices into chicken pieces. Melt butter and olive oil together in a large pan. Sauté chicken until golden, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add a little more butter and/or olive oil to the pan if necessary. Add onions and sauté until golden. Stir in saffron. Return chicken to pot. Slowly pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover, then simmer slowly until chicken is very tender: about 30 minutes for breast meat, 45–60 minutes for boneless thighs, or 90 minutes for bone-in chicken.
  3. Remove solids from pan. Add lemon juice. Let sauce simmer, reducing slightly. Add olives, then return chicken and onions to pot. Sprinkle liberally with cilantro and serve.


To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:

  • chemical- and hormone-free meat
  • wild-caught fish
  • pasture-raised, organic eggs
  • whole, unrefined grains
  • virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
  • whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
  • pure, clean, spring water
  • sea salt
  • raw and/or cultured milk and cream products

Briana Goodall, CPC

Briana Goodall is Chef and Owner of Green Cuisine Personal Chef Service. Visit her website at

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