Bone-in Chicken Thigh in Tomato Sauce With Green Olives

CHICKEN-LICIOUS | This middle eastern chicken dish is the epitome of “one-pan beauty”.   

Looking to feed a hungry crowd with some irresistable love? Simply please them and satiate even the most discerning palates with this middle-eastern spiced chicken bone-in thigh dish simmered in a tomato sauce and green olives. This dish can be served straight from the pan.

The key to ensure the chicken remains tender? Patience.


  • 3 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 8 chicken thighs or 4 whole legs (thighs and drumsticks)
  • 2 tablespoons Baharat Spice Mix
  • 2 tablespoons Ras el Hanout Spice Mix
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 onions, thinly diced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup plain pitted green olives (my favorite are Manzanilla)
  • 8 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 x 14.5-ounce cans very good-quality chopped tomatoes (get the Italian stuff — they know their tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Handful chopped parsley
  • Handful chopped cilantro
  • Crushed rose petals (optional, to garnish)

Baharat spice mix:

  • 4 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom pods
  • 4 tablespoons toasted cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons toasted coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves

Bone-in Chicken Thigh in Tomato Sauce With Green Olives

Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 30 mins | Total time: 40 mins | Yields: 2 servings

For the chicken
  1. Start by rubbing the chicken with 1 tablespoon each of the Baharat and Ras el Hanout Spice Mixes and some salt, then set aside while you start the sauce. (You can do this the day before, then cover and leave the chicken thighs or legs in the fridge overnight — they’ll be even tastier.)
  2. Heat a wide, shallow pan over a medium heat, add the oils and then the onions and sauté with a pinch of salt and the crushed red pepper flakes for about 10–15 minutes until the onions are nicely caramelized.
  3. While the onions are frying, bring a medium-sized saucepan of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and blanch the olives for 2 minutes. Drain and then repeat this process twice more. Drain for the final time and set them aside.
  4. When the onions have caramelized, add the garlic and sauté for 2–3 more minutes. Meanwhile, heat up a large nonstick pan over a medium heat, add the thighs or legs, skin-side down, and let them crisp up as they slowly render their fat.
  5. Add half the stock (or water) to the onions and garlic. Meanwhile, when the thighs are nice and crisp on the skin side, flip them and sear on the other side as well. Season with a touch of salt and pepper, remove from the pan and leave to rest.
  6. Add the remaining stock to the pan and deglaze it with a wooden spoon, combining the residue from the pan with the onions, garlic and stock. This will add amazing flavor to your sauce. If you’ve gone for the vegetarian version, just add all the vegetable stock to the onions in step 5 and skip from there to step 7.
  7. When the stock has reduced by half (i.e. when you’re left with about 2¼ cups, add the tomatoes, blanched olives, sugar and the rest of the spice mixes. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Add the chicken and simmer for another 20 minutes over a low heat. I like to turn the heat off and let the dish rest for at least 30 minutes before I serve, which binds all the flavors amazingly.  To doll up the dish, garnish with the chopped herbs and rose petals (optional) before serving.

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