When Céline Bénitah cooks this dish, she blanches the olives for a minute to get rid of the bitterness, a step that I never bother with. If you keep the pits in, just warn your guests in order to avoid any broken teeth!
Céline also uses the marvelous Moroccan spice mixture ras el hanout, which includes, among 30 other spices, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, cloves and paprika. You can find it at Middle Eastern markets or through the Internet, or you can use equal amounts of the above spices or others that you like. To make my life easier, I assemble the spice rub the day before and marinate the chicken overnight. The next day, before my guests arrive, I fry the chicken and simmer it.
● 4 large cloves garlic, mashed
● Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
● 1 tsp ground turmeric
● 1 to 2 tbsp ras el hanout
● 1 bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
● 4 tbsp olive oil
● One 1.5kg to 1.8kg chicken, cut into 8 pieces
● 1 tsp cornflour
● 150g black Moroccan dry cured olives, pitted
● Diced rind of 2 preserved lemons
● Mix the mashed garlic with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, the turmeric, the ras el hanout, half the coriander, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
● Rub the surface of the chicken pieces with this spice mixture,
put them in a dish, and marinate in the refrigerator, covered, overnight.
● The next day, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan.
● Sauté the spice-rubbed chicken until golden brown on each side.
● Stir the cornflour into 250ml water, and pour over the chicken. Bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Add the olives, and continue cooking for another 20 minutes.
● Sprinkle on the preserved lemon, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Garnish with the remaining coriander. Serve with rice or couscous.