If you are tired of serving the same meals over and over, try Moroccan Spiced Chicken Stew. This exotic sounding but simple one pot meal from North Africa can be prepared in under an hour. Your family and friends will love this delicious dish filled with tender chicken, chickpeas and vegetables simmered in a broth seasoned with warming spices.
Served with a side of fluffy couscous to absorb the flavorful and aromatic sauce, the stew is light yet filling. It is perfectly seasoned but if you want something spicy hot, you can serve the stew with a small bowl of harissa, a spicy Moroccan chili pepper paste, on the side for added heat and flavor.
This Moroccan chicken stew recipe is easily adapted to your own taste and preferences. Leave out the chicken and substitute the chicken stock with vegetable broth and you will have a wonderful vegetarian meal. Other vegetables such a pumpkin, carrots, parsnips or turnips could also be used.
If you will be preparing this dish for an evening with friends, I suggest serving the chicken stew with a condiment tray of dried fruits such as apricots, prunes, raisins, figs, dates, cashews and pistachios. Pitted olives, chopped preserved lemons, fresh mint and cilantro are also good toppings for the stew.
Moroccan Spiced Chicken Stew
Serves 2 to 4, adjust the recipe accordingly.
- 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (figure 2 thighs a person), cut into bite size pieces
- Flour for dredging the chicken
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp. peeled, grated fresh ginger (about a 1 inch piece) or 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- salt to taste
- 1 Tbsp. Ras El Hanout* a traditional North African spice mix available from ethnic markets and some grocery stores
- 2 tsp. harissa, a Moroccan chili pepper paste that comes in a can or tube (adjust to your preference for heat)
- 3 plum tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces
- 3 – 4 c. chicken stock, homemade if possible
- l large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 15.5 oz. can chickpeas, drained
- 1 zucchini, cubed
- 1 yellow squash, cubed
- chopped cilantro, garnish (optional)
- 1 c. dried couscous, prepared according to package directions.
*Ras El Hanout is a Moroccan blend of spices such as cardamom, cayenne, coriander, cumin, paprika, peppercorns and turmeric with a little sweetness from spices such as cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. If you can’t find the blend at your local market, you can find a recipe at the link I’ve underlined in blue above. You can also just add a little extra of the other spices I’ve listed for this recipe.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper then dredge in flour, shaking off the excess. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium and when hot, add the chicken. Cook until just browned, about 1 – 2 minutes per side then transfer to a plate. Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften. Add the garlic, ginger, all the spices and the harissa and stir to mix well then cook, stirring for a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook until softened about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and reserved chicken, reduce the heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes until the sweet potatoes are just getting tender. Taste the broth and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Add in the zucchini and squash and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
While the stew is simmering, prepare the couscous according to the package directions. Fluff and keep warm. To serve the stew, place a little couscous in individual bowls then ladle in some stew and garnish with cilantro, if desired.
- Try to cut the vegetables into equal sizes so that they will cook evenly.
Moroccan chicken stew is perfect for entertaining a group. If you are planning to serve the stew to guests, you can have it prepared an hour ahead of time. To do so, only cook the squash until barely tender crisp, cover the pot and place in a 200 degree oven until your guests arrive. The ingredients will continue to cook and the flavors will meld. When your friends step in your kitchen, they will be greeted by the wonderful aromas of this flavorful dish. Serve the chicken stew with warmed pitas or flatbreads and a condiment tray of dried fruits, nuts, herbs and harissa, for those who like it hot, and your guests will be very happy.