Moroccan Chicken Charmoula

I’m in the middle of my busiest time of year at work, so I haven’t spent a lot of time working on house projects recently. Instead, I thought I’d share one of Nick and my favorite recipes.

I absolutely love to cook and experiment with different foods and recipes, and I’ve recently taken an interest in cooking ethnic foods, especially Indian and Moroccan cuisine, which use many of the same herbs and spices in their recipes.

For the most part, cooking these dishes is pretty easy since the cooking techniques are very basic (meats or vegetables are simply slow cooked in a variety of spices). The hardest part is actually finding the spices, many of which aren’t available at tradition or organic grocery stores. Thankfully, D.C. has several international food stores, which have a great selection of harder-to-find herbs and spices.

(Most of the spices I’ve bought are sold in bulk packages and not in traditional spice jars, so I store the spices in larger Tupperware containers).


Some Indian dishes are spicy-hot (jalapeños are just as common in Indian food as in many Mexican dishes); however, most recipes are not hot at all, but abound with many layers of strong spices, which I think makes them incredibly delicious.

This recipe for chicken charmoula is one of those spicy-but-not-hot dishes.


Moroccan Chicken Charmoula (adapted from a recipe by chef Mourad Lahlou)


1 tsp kosher salt
1.5 TB paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 TB minced garlic
1 TB parsley
2 TB chopped cilantro
1 TB grated lemon peel
1 TB lemon juice
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c water
1/2 c tomato puree
4 chicken thighs
1 can drained chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

Rice or couscous for serving


1. Combine the salt and spices in a small bowl. Add garlic, parsley, cilantro, lemon peel and juice.


2. Whisk in oil, water and tomato puree.

3. Warm a small amount of oil in a Dutch oven or saute pan over medium heat.

4. Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper.

5. Brown the chicken on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Note: I usually prepare this recipe with chicken thighs, but I remove the skin to reduce the fat. Chicken breasts would probably work too, but since the chicken simmers for nearly two hours, bone-in chicken typically stays more moist.


6. Add the charmoula sauce to the pot and bring to a simmer.

7. Return the chicken to the pot, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is fork-tender, about 2 hours.


8. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add the drained chickpeas.

9. Skim any excess fat off the sauce.

10. Serve the chicken and sauce with flavored rice or couscous.


Isn’t it a beautiful dish? And it’s so easy to prepare!

I prepare this dish – and many others that require low, slow cooking – in a tagine, which is traditional North African earthenware that is often used to slowly simmer stews and rice dishes.

Mine is from William-Sonoma and was bought with a gift certificate from my lovely sister-in-law, Anne. I love how beautiful it is; it’s even pretty enough to keep out and display 🙂


As the food cooks, a small amount of steam is allowed to escape from a small hole in the lid’s top, but the rest of the steam rises up in the cone, condenses, and then drips back down the sides and into the dish to keep it moist.


Since a tagine is made from clay, it’s important to use a diffuser on your burner to block it from direct heat, which can cause it to dry out and crack. These are sold at pretty much any home or kitchen store.


If you are interested in trying out any Indian recipes, I definitely recommend any cookbook by Indian chef Madhur Jaffrey, who’s recipes are simple and delicious. For Christmas, Nick gifted me her Quick & Easy Indian Cooking cookbook and we’ve been making our way through it and trying new dishes almost every week.


Here’s a photo gallery of some of the Indian dishes we’ve recently prepared (Nick, the family baker, has even baked traditional naan bread a few times).

Indian collage.jpg

So, who wants to come to dinner?


6 thoughts on “Moroccan Chicken Charmoula

  1. Your food looks great Sara. Can you make the food without using the tagine or do you have to have one? I can’t wait for the farmers market so I can cook with local fresh produce.

  2. Pingback: The Art of Cooking | Isn't It Sweet

  3. Pingback: A favorite quick-and-easy dinner | Isn't It Sweet

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