North African Lemon Chicken

I came up with the basic idea for this week's recipe while flipping through a cooking magazine in my dentist's office of all places. I'd just read over a recipe that was somewhat similar, but was poorly conceived, badly written, had too many steps and needed heavy ingredient modifications. And yet I thought it had great potential.

The irony of today's recipe being loosely inspired by a bad recipe in a bad cooking magazine isn't lost on me, but I consider it further proof that you can find cooking inspiration almost anywhere. All you have to do is keep your mind open and look out for it.

With just a bit of practice, you'll be able to make this exotic yet easy recipe in well under 30 minutes. Better still, you can feed four people for the laughably cheap cost of around $7.00. Enjoy!
North African Lemon Chicken

Spice Mix:
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4-6 Tablespoons olive oil, in all
1 pound chicken breasts (~2 breasts), sliced into 1/2-inch thick medallions
2 medium onions, cut into slivers
4-5 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
About half a lemon, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups stock or broth
1 generous cup black olives
1-2 Tablespoons flour

1) Combine the spices in a small bowl. Use half to season the chicken, set the remaining half aside.

2) Heat 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick saucepan. Sear the seasoned chicken slices on very high heat until slightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.

3) Add another 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, then add the onions. Saute on high heat until the onions just begin to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Turn heat down to medium, and add the garlic, thinly sliced lemon and the remaining half of the spice mixture. Saute for another 4-5 minutes.

4) Add the stock and olives and then deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add back the chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes, gradually adding the 1-2 Tablespoons of flour to thicken the sauce slightly. Serve over rice, brown rice or couscous.

Serves 5-6.

Two quick recipe notes:
1) This recipe is really hard to screw up. I think the only instance where you need to be careful is when you add the flour to thicken the sauce. Be sure to add it gradually or else the flour can clump up in the sauce. Other than that, the only thing worth worrying about with this recipe is whether or not to eat the lemon slices. I do, Laura doesn't.

2) Calling all vegetarians: you can easily make this dish 100% veggie by substituting chickpeas for the chicken (two cups of cooked or canned chickpeas should suffice).

Related Posts:
Fattoush! A Middle Eastern Salad Recipe
Ten Tips to Save Money on Spices and Seasonings
Shrimp in Tomato Sauce: Middle Eastern Cuisine
The Hummus Blogroll: 17 Easy to Make Hummus Recipes
How to Make a Versatile Vegetable Stock

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by purchasing items from via links on this site, or by linking to me or subscribing to my RSS feed. Finally, you can consider submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like, digg or stumbleupon. Thank you for your support!


Joanne said...

In addition to laughably easy and laughably cheap, I think you forgot to mention laughably delicious! I love the flavor profile of North African cuisine. It's so similar to Middle Eastern. This looks like a fantastic meal.

Laura said...

This looks great - can't wait to try it!

Charmian @Christie's Corner said...

This is the perfect reminder that inspiration lurks in the most unlikely places. And that good food doesn't have to cost a fortune.

I adore lemon and chicken together and am always looking for new ways to play with it. Thanks for posting this.

Daniel said...

Joanne, thanks for the feedback, and yes, this is a kickass meal. :)

Laura, thank you!

Charmian, couldn't agree more--I've found keeper recipes wrapped around bunches of collard greens, on the side of a bag of red lentils, and in all sorts of humble and unexpected places. It pays to keep one's eyes open!


FIONA said...

Yum. What a wonderful, flavorful dish. Looks like Saturday dinner to me.

Thanks for sharing.

Laura said...

Made this for dinner tonight. Fantastic! Even the kids loved it. Thanks for sharing, and glad to know all y'all are safe in Santiago. Continue to be so!

P.S. Loved the lemon slices!

Daniel said...

Fiona, thanks for the positive vibes.

Laura, so glad you enjoyed it! And I KNEW I'd have readers who ate the lemon slices... :)


The Food Hunter said...

I'll be trying this real soon

chris said...

Must try! And, I love the hint about using Chickpeas as a different twist. Yum!

Melissa said...

delicious! two thumbs up from my house.

Daniel said...

Thanks for the feedback Melissa! I love it when readers have great results with the recipes here.