Moroccan Saffron Chicken with Lemon and Olives

Moroccan Saffron Chicken with Lemon and Olives

Moroccan Saffron Chicken with Lemon and Olives

One gram?

One gram!?

It doesn’t sound much, does it?

Rest assured though, mes amis, that one gram of powdered saffron will infuse this dish with a beautiful deep, yellow, colour, as well as its characteristically unique, warm flavour.

Warning – the success of this dish really depends upon good quality saffron. Although sometimes turmeric is referred to as “poor man’s saffron” it really can’t replace the saffron in this dish. At all.

True enough, you’ll get a yellow coloured dish, but even that won’t be quite right.

It won’t have that “old gold” depth of colour, and nothing can come close to emulating that unique saffron flavour. Turmeric is a wonderful spice in its own right, that has to be said, but as a replacement for saffron? No. Just no.

Some time ago Swedish supermarkets pulled saffron from the shelves, due to the fact that a high purchase price, which put the spice gram for gram in the same bracket as gold, combined with small, discreet packets, somewhat inevitably led to a surge in pilfering.

This means that you ask for your half-gram packets of saffron at the checkout, where they are securely stored along with things of lesser value, such as hard currency.

When packing and paying for your other groceries it’s aĺl too easy to forget to ask for the saffron, though.

I usually have my “D’oh!” moment as I come into our apartment block’s yard. Luckily the supermarket is a mere 5 minute walk away, and as I said earlier, you really don’t have a choice when it comes to the saffron here…

Saffron aside, this dish is also blessed with all those other warming spices, as well as that marvellous flavour combination, olives and lemon.

We usually serve this with plenty of steamed cauliflower. Any leftover cauliflower can be simply dropped in any leftover sauce, and re-heated the next day to give a tasty, quick soup.


Moroccan Saffron Chicken with Lemon and Olives

Serves 3 – 4


  • 1kg chicken breast meat, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 370g pitted black and green olives
  • 1 medium yellow pepper, de-seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Jalapeño chillies, finely chopped
  • 1g powdered saffron
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried coriander leaf
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Place the saffron, smoked Spanish paprika, ground ginger, ground cumin, dried coriander leaf, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, dried thyme, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Add just enough water to produce a thin paste, and mix well. Set aside.
  • Heat about 4 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large pan.
  • Add the onions, and stir fry until starting to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the yellow pepper strips and Jalapeño chillies. Stir fry for a further 3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, and stir fry for a further 2 minutes.
  • Add the water and spice mixture, stir well, and continue to stir fry for a further 2 minutes, adding a drop more water if needed.
  • Add the pitted olives and the chicken. Stir well, to coat the chicken with the herbs, vegetables, and spices.
  • Add the lemon juice plus just enough water to cover the chicken. Stir well, and bring back up to a low simmer.
  • Simmer the chicken for 20 minutes, or until done. If you cut a chicken piece in half, it should have lost its raw, pink colour, and be completely white all the way through.
  • Serve, garnished with plenty of chopped fresh parsley.

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