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Moroccan Chicken with Olives

Moroccan chicken with olives is simmered in tomato sauce and filled with flavorful spices.   Serve with white rice or couscous.

Moroccan chicken with olives in tomato sauce

I love Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food.  

These cuisines incorporate spices into their cooking to give it lots of flavor.  

This dish is no exception as it calls for sweet paprika, cumin, and turmeric.

Also, like some Middle Eastern foods, this dish is inherently spicy.  However, you can leave the hot pepper out if you prefer. Either way, it’s a delicious dish.

One of the things I like most about this dish is the colors.  I love the way the yellow chicken stands out against the red sauce.

In fact, that was one of the things that drew me to it in the first place.  The yellow color comes from the turmeric, which is likely its main use in this recipe.

This may seem like a complicated recipe when you see the relatively long list of ingredients. However, like Moroccan Meatballs with Olives and Moroccan Fish, it’s really easy.

Just boil olives, fry the vegetables, add everything to the pot and simmer. Done.

In fact, if you want, you can make this a one pot recipe. Just cook the olives in the same pot you’ll be using later, pour the water out, and set them aside.

You can serve this dish along with couscous or white rice.

If I had to guess, I’d say traditionally it is served with couscous.

However, if you don’t have it around, I often serve it with Israeli white rice.


Yes and no. 

It is not necessarily healthier as far as bacteria is concerned, since bacteria can only safely be killed with heat. 

What is better is the quality of the chicken.

The salting process used to remove blood, as part of the koshering process, is believed to provide better quality meat.  

It creates a sort of quick dry brine.

Also, kosher animals are kept in better conditions than nonkosher animals, due to strict kosher health requirements of the animals.  They are also killed in arguably more humane conditions.

While I’ve only eaten kosher meat (so I cannot compare), I’ve been told by non-Jews who do not keep kosher that they’ve noticed that kosher chicken is of superior quality to cook with.


According to the USDA, you should not wash chicken or meat because washing it spreads bacteria throughout the kitchen.

Water can splash bacteria up to 3 feet surrounding your sink, including onto counter tops, other food, towels and you (i.e. cross contamination).

A study done by Drexel University shows that it is best to move meat and poultry directly from package to pan.  The heat from cooking will kill any bacteria that may be present.

One exception would be if there are bone fragments or residue from giblets, as in a roasting chicken. In that case, feel free to rinse if you like.  However, make sure you wipe down your sink afterwards.


If you want to clean your chicken without washing it, wipe it down with a wet paper towel. This will remove anything other than bacteria.

Just make sure the paper towel doesn’t touch anything else and to toss the paper towel right away.



This method is the most highly recommended. Chicken typically takes a full day to thaw. Once thawed, the poultry can remain in the refrigerator for a day or two before cooking.


This should take two to three hours.  Submerge your sealed chicken in a pot or bowl full of cold water.  Change out the water every 30 minutes or so. 

Do not use warm or hot water.  It is unhealthy to do so, can start cooking your chicken, and doesn’t do so evenly.


According to the USDA, you can cook frozen chicken.  It will take 50% longer to cook, but it’s an option.  You should also cook it on a roasting rack or over vegetables, so the heat can circulate around the chicken.


If you have extra raw chicken that you didn’t use but want to refreeze, you can, as long as it was thawed in the fridge.

According to the USDA,“food thawed in the refrigerator is safe to refreeze without cooking.”  However, you do lose quality when refreezing previously defrosted meat. 

Every time you defrost meat, it loses moisture through thawing, which also leads to a loss in flavor.  To compensate for this, marinate the meat to add more flavor and juice.”

The USDA also says not to “refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.”


No.  Brining actually doesn’t do anything to help poultry.  In fact, it makes it soggy rather than juicy, with watered down flavor. 

Aromatic brines and stock don’t help with flavor either.  This is because the salt pulls water molecules in, leaving most of the flavor behind.


A dry brine loosens up muscle fibers, allowing them to retain more moisture as without adding any excess liquid. 

Initially, the salt draws moisture out, then it dissolves in this liquid, creating a concentrated brine, which eventually gets reabsorbed.  This leads to more intensely flavored results.

An added benefit is that it also requires less space and mess than a water brine.  Not to mention the fact that it allows for crispier skin. 


Yes.  Food experts are often under the impression that kosher meat and poultry cannot be brined and dry brined. 

This is because of the koshering process which involves salting the meat to remove the blood.  However, the process is not nearly as long as the dry brining process, and unlike a dry brine, the poultry is soaked to remove the salt.

So, since the process is quite different than a dry brine, it is fine and even recommended to dry brine kosher poultry and meat.


Place cooled chicken in an airtight container or wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap.  Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.


Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days.  Place cooled chicken in an airtight container or resealable freezer bag. 

Freeze for up to 4 months.  After that, it is safe to eat. However, the quality begins to degrade.

Recipe Tip:

Among Israeli-Moroccans, it is common to add chicken bullion powder instead of salt. The bullion powder is already salted and adds extra flavor.

Yield: 8 servings

Moroccan Chicken with Olives

Moroccan chicken with olives in tomato sauce

Chicken with olives is a Moroccan classic. Serve with white rice.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 2 cups pitted olives (360 grams)
  • 4-5 chicken legs, cut
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 6 garlic cloves sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 to 2 cups hot water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 hot pepper, optional
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Boil the olives in fresh water for 30 minutes or until you can slide a fork through them with ease. Spill out the water.
  2. Heat the oil. Sauté garlic and tomatoes.
  3. Add chicken, olives, and enough water to partially cover the sides.
  4. Mix in tomato paste, paprika, cumin, turmeric, and hot pepper if desired. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 391Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 205mgSodium: 501mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 40g

Did you make this recipe?

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Thursday 14th of May 2020

How did you season your chicken?


Thursday 14th of May 2020

The chicken does not need to be seasoned. It gets plenty of flavor from the sauce and olives. Just cook as instruction.


Tuesday 7th of April 2020

A gorgeous recipe, my kids are crazy about it. I make the olives separately as they are not fans of olives but I love them. I add cubes potatos to the chicken in sauce. So so yummy! Just made a double batch for pesach. Thank you! Chag sameach


Tuesday 7th of April 2020

I'm really glad to hear you and your kids like it! Thank you for sharing that with me :)


Wednesday 10th of April 2019

What do I do with the boiled olives?


Wednesday 10th of April 2019

You add it the same time as you add the chicken and water :)

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