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Roasted Moroccan Chichen

Roasted Moroccan Chichen

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May 7, 2012



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Moroccan Chicken & Poultry

Chicken is used frequently in Moroccan cooking. It shows up alone or with vegetables and dried fruits in tagines, couscous, rice and pasta dishes, as well as in soups, sandwiches, brochettes and finger foods.

Here you can browse our collection of traditional Moroccan chicken and poultry recipes. You’ll find authentic recipes for classic Moroccan chicken dishes such Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives, Chicken Rfissa and Seffa Medfouna, as well as lesser known and regional recipes.

Moroccan Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemon, Olives and Onion Sauce

A m’qualli style roast chicken with preserved lemon and olives. Plan ahead because this wonderful dish requires overnight marinating for best flavor.

Moroccan roasted chicken with preserved lemon and olives. Photo: picturepartners |

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Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives is a classic Moroccan dish that can be prepared a number of ways. The version here with onion sauce is often served for company dinners and for special occasions, when it might be one of two or more entrees in a multi-course meal.

To make the dish, chicken is marinated overnight and then slow-roasted the next day. Meanwhile, a rich m&rsquoqualli-style onion sauce (daghmira) flavored with ginger and saffron cooks separately. Olives and preserved lemons add tangy, salty flavor as well as complementary color for a beautiful presentation.

Although my family calls the dish djaj m&rsquohammar, we&rsquore using that term in a general sense to refer simply to &ldquoroasted chicken.&rdquo In the most traditional sense, a m&rsquohammar of chicken is a specific dish which involves two stages of cooking and includes paprika in the seasoning.

Roasted chicken with preserved lemons and olives is not difficult to make, but the dish does require time for both marinating and proper reduction of the daghmira. The onions must be reduced until they form a paste-like mass which separates from the oil. The onion sauce can be prepared the day before and finished shortly before serving. This makes it a perfect do-ahead dish when. You may also want to clean and brine the chicken the Moroccan way before moving on to marinating it.

Although the recipe below indicates four servings, Moroccan tradition is to allow one chicken for every three people. Simply multiply the recipe according to your own needs. Custom is to dip into the sauce with pieces of Moroccan bread and enjoy the chicken by hand from a communal plate.


Spice rub

Roast Chicken And Potatoes

  • Whole chicken I used a 4 pound chicken, but whatever size you have will work. If your chicken is bigger, you can up the amounts called for the seasoning.
  • Olive oil –We want a richer oil with great flavor, it doesn’t matter that the smoke point is lower since our tagine will control that and prevent the oil from burning.
  • Fresh parsley I like to add some nice chopped herbs at the end not only as garnish, but it adds such a wonderful fresh flavor to finish off the chicken. Any of your favorite herbs will work.
  • Potatoes –Baby potatoes are what we’re using today as they are small enough to cook in time with our chicken. Be sure to clean them before including.
  • Apricots –Believe me dried apricots chopped up roughly will taste heavenly in this dish. They plump up in the tagine and create a nice sweet bite to counter all the savory flavors.
  • Tomatoes –Cherry tomatoes will cook down and become tender little flavor bombs, is anyone else’s mouth watering?
  • Salt and pepper It’s important to have enough salt to ensure your chicken doesn’t taste bland. You can use as much or as little as you like.

Moroccan-Spiced Roast Chicken

Ingredients US Metric

  • One (4-to-5-pound) whole chicken
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 smallish lemon
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
  • 2 small orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (about 12 oz), unpeeled
  • 1 pound cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
  • 1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges


Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Slick a heavy large rimmed baking sheet–preferably not a roasting pan, but if you do use a roasting pan, make it a big one–with a little oil.

Pull out and discard the fat and giblets from the cavity of the chicken. Pat the chicken very dry with paper towels. Starting at the edge of the main cavity, slide a finger under the skin over each breast half, making a pocket between the skin and meat. Rub a total of 1 tablespoon of salt over the chicken skin and toss a little salt inside the cavity. Sprinkle the chicken generously with black pepper.

In a small bowl, mix the paprika, cumin, pepper flakes, and cinnamon. Set aside 2 1/2 teaspoons of the spice mixture for the vegetables. The rest is for the chicken. Finely grate the zest from the lemon, cut the lemon into quarters, and mix the zest into the spices for the chicken. Gradually mix in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to make a paste. Spread a little of the paste inside the cavity, slather some of it under the skin over the chicken breasts, and rub the rest of the paste all over the outside of the chicken. Toss the lemon quarters inside the cavity. Tie the legs together, if desired. Place the chicken in the center of the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it and if it browns too quickly cover it loosely with a sheet of foil.

Meanwhile, cut the sweet potatoes in half crosswise, and then quarter each half lengthwise to create wedges. Combine the sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and onion in a bowl. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and toss to coat. Add the reserved spice mixture, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and toss to coat.

After the chicken has roasted for 30 minutes, remove it from the oven. Tilt the sheet pan and spoon off most of the fat. Return the chicken to the center of the sheet and spoon the vegetables around it. Return the pan to the oven and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 165°F (74°C), about 40 minutes longer, depending on the size of the bird. (Note: the bird will take longer to roast if the legs have been tied together. It will also take longer if you ended up with a behemoth bird that’s closer to five pounds than four.) If the skin is getting too dark before the meat is done, reduce the oven temperature to 425°F (218°C).

Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve the chicken and serve with the vegetables.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

I tried this for dinner tonight with two French friends and two other American friends. We were all amazed at how flavorful the spices were – some of us were nervous that it would be *too* spicy but it wasn’t at all. The vegetable mixture was beautiful as well – that was a fun surprise. I loved the directions to add the vegetables into the roasting pan halfway through the cooking time so that they didn’t get too soft – brilliant! My only minor issue with the recipe was that it didn’t say to rub the spice mixture on the bottom of the bird – usually recipes will tell you to turn the bird over a couple of times to ensure an even coating. I will definitely make this again and again as a fun way to switch up my usual roast chicken recipe.

How would you like your kitchen to smell as if you were preparing a nice North African couscous? That’s exactly how it seemed. The scents lifted you to the warmth of North Africa and from the fist bite we were hooked. Timewise it was cooked to perfection. How much easier could this full meal be for a rushed work evening apart from waiting and longing to start eating? The chicken was juicy and extremely tasty and the vegetables kept their unique tastes while providing the feeling of enjoying a couscous! This is one recipe we will definitely redo often at our home.

This a simple yet tasty roast chicken. The Moroccan spices are a nice change to your regular roast chicken, but the vegetables were just as tasty as the chicken. I might even make the vegetables on their own with the spice mix. Next time I think I’d mix the spices together before I prep the chicken so I’m not washing my hands quite so much.

This is a great recipe, the flavors dance well together leading you to a gastronomic bolero. I used a five pound chicken and found that I had to lower my oven temp from 450°F to 375°F. I found that 425°F was too hot too quickly I did truss the chicken which automatically required a bit more cooking time. Also, I would completely season the entire chicken overnight or even 2 hours before baking this would allow for the flavors to further permeate the chicken. And if one did choose to tie the legs, the recipe should provide instructions on how to properly truss the chicken.

The chicken alone here is a ten. As my husband said after taking his first bite of the chicken, “That’s a lot of flavor!” We used a 4 3/4 lb. air-dried free-range chicken. The recipe did not say how to place the bird on the sheet pan. We put the chicken breast-side down for the first 20 minutes, and then turned it over for the next 10 minutes. That was the initial 30 minutes of cooking. That was when we were supposed to add the vegetables to the pan. The skin was very golden and the chicken looked like it was done. We checked the temperature, and indeed it was done. We took the chicken off of the pan, and put the veggies in. We wanted to cut down the cooking time, since the chicken was done, so we switched on the convection oven, and put the veggies in. We checked them at 20 minutes, and they were done. After carving the chicken, (don’t know how it happened, but this is when a lot of chicken just kinda disappeared into our mouths before making it onto the plate…) we poured the juices that had accumulated while the chicken sat and waited for the vegetables to get done over the hen. The chicken was wonderful! It was moist and chock-full-of-flavor. The onions were great. The potatoes and the cauliflower were just O.K. The vegetables could have benefited from being cooked with the chicken at the same time. I will try that the next time I make this. There will definitely be a next time, probably very soon. Excuse the run-on sentences. We just finished eating, and I can still taste all of the flavors. I am a bit enthusiastic, aren’t I? I do think that the size of the bird, and how to place it, are necessary for folks who may not be able to adjust a recipe to fit their bird.

Pantry staples and easy-to-get chicken, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower seemed a little unlikely at first but combined to make one of the best roast chicken recipes I've ever tasted (and my tablemates agreed)! All ingredients and directions worked just as written. If anyone at your table prefers a little less heat, you might consider reducing the red pepper flakes but my tasters (who are NOT spicy eaters) had no problem with the 3/4 teaspoon called for. Identifying the four spices flavoring the chicken and vegetables provided some great table talk, too. Kristine Kidd calls this a "meal in one." I accompanied this dish with Sweet Corn Fregula (another LC recipe) and have to say it was an inspired combination! The author also suggests serving baklava to end the meal. Let me just add that chocolate also works very well. I was unfamiliar with Moroccan flavors but this recipe, from the seductive aroma of the spice and oil paste rubbed on the chicken to the finished product (a heavenly combination of aromas, textures, and tastes), made me want to explore much more. I can't wait to serve this again!

I’ve just gotta say that I love being a tester for this site. Why? Because more often than not, through testing, I’m introduced to a recipe I otherwise might never have discovered, and it’s one that is so good that I’m sure it will become a regular in my cooking rotation. This dish is just such a recipe. From the very first read, I had a good feeling about this one. The ingredients were all easy to put my hands on, the technique straightforward and well articulated and the dish’s promise of big flavor is delivered in spades, with both the chicken and the veggies deeply flavorful, but not spicy from the mix of peppers, cumin, and cinnamon. The addition of lemon to the spice paste and the instruction to rub some under the skin and inside the cavity of the bird is brilliant, adding a lovely citrus note to the deep, exotic flavor of the rub. The cooking times as written worked out perfectly delivering us a perfectly juicy, well seasoned bit of deliciousness with a brick red, salt-crisped skin, right on-time. As an added bonus, the veggie mix was a perfect complement to the star of the show, reinforcing the Moroccan theme with hardly any additional work. I just love the ease of cooking veggies this way, one pot meals are indeed splendid. As if all this weren’t enough, the kids devoured every little vegetable scrap from their plates, no small feat considering that two in the mix were sweet potatoes and cauliflower, perennial losers in vegetable popularity rankings around these parts. We are sure to make this one again and again!

I was apprehensive at first about the temperature for the actual roasting of the bird. That being said I turned on the oven, lightly oiled the bottom of my new tagine and proceeded. I made the spice paste as written, then prepared the bird and the vegetables. I was concerned at the 30 minute mark when I noticed how dark the bird was becoming, but added the vegetables and went ahead. It actually took closer to 50 minutes to finish, but that may have been the size of the bird. I worried that it was burnt but such was not the case. We haven’t had such a juicy, tender, flavourful bird in a very long time. My family still talked about it the next day. They loved it so much there was none left for lunches. They asked me again this week when we can do this again. I would highly reccomend this one to chicken lovers everywhere.

Simple, delicious, and beautiful sitting on the platter! This is a one pan meal that offers lots of good tastes and textures with the addition of the vegetables roasting on the pan with the chicken. I would tone down the spices for vegetables so that there is a contrast of flavor possible to those who might not be as fond of the Moroccan “taste” as others might be (as some at our table were.) And if you are lucky enough to have any chicken leftovers – this makes a mean chicken salad in the best sense of the term!

I did not have a whole chicken for this recipe, so I used thighs and drumsticks. The spice mixture was perfect. Just enough spice, but not so much that you can’t taste what you’re eating. At first I wasn’t sure about the combo of sweet potatoes and cauliflower with this, but once they were seasoned and roasted, I was in heaven. The roasting time was perfect. The chicken was moist, and the veggies were firm but tender. And my husband, who I can only get to eat veggies by tricking him, LOVED the cauliflower! This would be a great dish for entertaining, or for a nice casual family dinner. Definitely a keeper in my rotation!

Next time, I’ll make more of the spice mixture and save it to put on other things. I bet it would taste great on a burger, or on any roasted veggies, or a quick way to season a sautéed chicken breast.


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Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Chicken with Sweet Onions

Take a weeknight culinary adventure to North Africa with this Moroccan-inspired chicken recipe. Sweet onions are the ideal ingredient to contrast the strong spices used to season the chicken breasts. The bold spices are so potent you only need to marinate the chicken breasts for 10 minutes before cooking. You can eat this light chicken dish as is for a low-calorie dinner—one serving is only 308 calories—or pair it with roasted vegetables and a side of whole grains to make a full plate. Brown rice would be great if you have it on hand. Try stirring in a spoonful of tahini, which is a sesame seed paste, for a punch of flavor.

Moroccan Roasted Chicken

This Moroccan Roasted Chicken is a simple variation on our master roasted-chicken recipe, Italian-Herb Roasted Chicken. For a change of pace, try our just-as-simple Lemon-Pepper variation.

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Remove bag with giblets and neck from chicken cavity discard or reserve for another use.
  2. In cup, mix olive oil, cumin, curry powder, and cinnamon. With fingertips, gently separate skin from meat on chicken breast. Rub spice mixture on meat under skin. Tie legs together with string. Rub chicken all over with salt and pepper.
  3. Place chicken, breast side up, on rack in small roasting pan (13" by 9"). Pour 1/4 cup water into roasting pan. Roast chicken 1 hour or until juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with tip of knife and temperature on meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reaches 175 degrees F.
  4. When chicken is done, lift from roasting pan and tilt slightly to allow juices inside cavity to run into pan. Place chicken on platter. Let chicken stand 10 minutes to allow juices to set for easier carving.
  5. Remove rack from roasting pan. Skim and discard fat from pan juices. Add remaining 1/4 cup water to pan juices cook 1 minute on medium, stirring constantly. Serve chicken with pan juices.

Steps to Make It

Ahead of time if possible, combine the chicken with the onion, garlic, herbs, and spices, including half of the saffron. (Reserve the rest of the saffron for adding to the sauce at a later time.) If time allows, cover and leave the chicken to marinate in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight. Otherwise, proceed to the next step.

When ready to cook, transfer the chicken and onions (scrape every last bit out of your bowl) to a heavy-bottomed pot, deep skillet or Dutch oven. Cover and cook the chicken over medium or medium-low heat, gently stirring and turning the chicken every 15 minutes or so, until the chicken is tender enough to pinch off the bones. (This will take approximately one hour, but longer if using a free range chicken). Keep the heat adjusted so that the chicken doesn't scorch, and only add a little water if you feel you must. Typically the chicken will braise in its own juices.

When the chicken is cooked, carefully transfer it to a plate and cover.

Roasted Moroccan Chicken – Instant Pot Recipe

Moroccan Chicken has an intense exotic flare because spices are used extensively in the Moroccan culture. That's because the cuisine is influenced by interactions and exchanges with other cultures and nations over the centuries. The longer you marinate this chicken the deeper the flavor!

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (or 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced)
  • 1 tsp ginger powder (or 1 tablespoon fresh, minced)
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley, leaves only (no stems)
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • whole organic chicken
  • Mix the rub (all ingredients except for chicken)
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Rub on the entire chicken, cover and put in fridge for 1 hour up to 8 hours
  • Roast at 400 degrees until internal temperature of the thigh reaches 165 degrees
  • Let rest 10 minutes before carving so the juices can redistribute evenly throughout


*This recipe can also be adapted using an Instant Pot, reduce coconut oil to 2 tablespoons and sauté the chicken breast side down in the Instant pot, then flip over (breast side up) and add 1 1/2 cups of broth or water to the bottom of the Instant Pot after searing the outside and before cooking.

After I removed the chicken from the instant pot, I strained the liquid, reserving 3 cups and added it back to the pot with 2 cups of rice and started the Instant Pot on the “rice” setting. By the time the chicken was ready to carve, the rice was cooked. I served it with this rice for my children. To keep it weight loss friendly for myself, I served it over sautéed cauliflower with a side salad.

Because I follow a ketogenic way of eating, I often add some avocado on the side, it's delicious together. Please let me know if you try this recipe by tagging me in your photos! @thatorganicmom on all social media

I recently purchased my 6 Quart Instant Pot with my Amazon Prime membership on Prime Day at a significant discount plus free shipping. I have had my prime membership since 2010 and each year I use it more. I am an Amazon affiliate which means I make a small commission when someone buys a product using my link, even though the price remains the same for the consumer. I only add links to products I have actually purchased and/or use in my own home, promise! Your support using my affiliate links helps me to develop more delicious recipes by supporting this site.

Roasted Moroccan Chicken with Carrots

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees . In a small bowl, combine the paprika, ginger, coriander and cinnamon, 1 tsp. of the cumin, 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

Place the chicken, breast side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Rub with 1 tbsp. EVOO and the spice mix, making sure to get under the skin and in the cavity. Roast for 25 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss the carrots with 1 tbsp. EVOO season with salt and pepper. Arrange the carrots around the chicken. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and the carrots are tender and browned, 30 to 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, make a salad: In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 tbsp. EVOO with the vinegar and the remaining 1/4 tsp. cumin toss with the lettuce and season. Serve the chicken with the carrots and salad

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