The other day my neighbor, who is originally from Lebanon, brought over some fresh, homemade red pepper hummus. She gave us so much that there was no way we could eat it all at once. So I made a dinner that would go with and accompany Hanaa’s delicious hummus. I poured through all my Middle Eastern cookbooks and decided upon Moroccan chicken and veggies. I made enough Moroccan chicken that I returned the favor, and gave some to Hanaa and Aziz, her husband, as well. Hanaa called me the next day and was so excited. She couldn’t believe I could cook Middle Eastern foods too. She said “When did you start cooking like this? It was so good and the house smelled so wonderful”. I think that means I did a pretty good job. 🙂
Morocco is known for all of its fabulous spices from around the world. Morocco was on the route between Europe, the Middle East and Asia and so acquired a number of spices as Portuguese and Spanish enclaves and ports were established along the Moroccan coast. Arab traders controlled the spice trade between Europe and the East, like China, Indonesia, India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka, my third stop), for almost 5,000 years until Europeans started looking for a new route to the Far East. Spices were so important because they helped mask the flavor of not-so-fresh food. Spices were prized goods in the Middle Ages and the quest for spices saw the development of an early model of globalization. Desired for their culinary, medicinal and cosmetic properties, spices fueled European colonial empires to create political, military and commercial networks to capitalize on the trade. Spices are still valued in today’s world as well, though today, they are much more easily attained than they were back in the days of the ancient spice traders.
Moroccan Chicken and Vegetables
1 1/2-2 lbs chicken pieces
salt & pepper to taste for the chicken
4 TBSP olive oil, divided
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 TBSP garlic
2-3 large carrots, cut into large chunks
1 onion, cut into large chunks
1 can garbanzo beans or chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup olives, sliced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, quartered
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450* F or 230* C.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Rub the chicken with salt, pepper and olive oil and place it on the foil.
Combine all the ingredients together and toss together adding the rest of the olive oil and more salt & pepper as needed. Once everything is coated with the spices and olive oil, place it on the foil along with the chicken.
Bake for about 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to about 400* F or 200* C and continue to cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165* F or about 90* C. The house will smell so good with the combination of all the spices.
When the chicken is cooked and at temperature and the vegetables are tender, it is done. I served this over couscous, but you can also serve it over rice as well. I also added some warmed pitas and Hanaa’s red pepper hummus, completing the meal with a dry pinot gris on the side. It was so good and full of bold, zesty flavors. It was a very warm and comforting meal from the inside out.
Stay safe sand stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.