Quick Chicken Tagine

Just like you, I am very busy and feel like I have no free time - especially during the week. Between my family, part time lawyer work, and full time running a small business, I have to be very deliberate with meal planning.

That did not happen today. I did plan ahead and placed chicken breasts in the fridge to defrost the night before, but the morning was even more hectic than usual, so I forgot about them. Secondly, I had no plan. I figured that I could make chili or even a quick pot pie, but I got home so late that I didn’t even have time for that. Then I realized that I had virtually no fresh fruit except lemons, or vegetables in the crisper save for some peppers, cabbage, and cauliflower.

I could have panicked. Instead, I spotted a box of couscous, and cans of tomatoes and olives on the pantry shelf. And even though my fridge was close to empty, my spice rack is always well stocked. That sparked the idea to throw together a quick North African-inspired spice mix, with saffron, cinnamon, coriander, and other beautifully fragrances, which would take my boring chicken from meh to wow.

This quick and healthy version of a traditional tagine is perfect for when time is tight and you have limited fresh vegetables on hand. Serve with couscous.

Serve 4-6


For the spice mix:

3 tbsp. paprika

1 tbsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. onion powder

2 tsp. ginger

2 tsp. coriander

2. tsp. turmeric

Pinch of saffron

2 tsp. allspice

2 tsp. cardamom

2 tsp. salt (add more, if desired)

1 tsp. white pepper

For the chicken:

3 tbsp. olive oil, divided

2 1/2 to 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 c. chicken stock or broth

3 canned roma tomatoes, chopped

1/4 c. olives, minced

1 /2 lemon, washed and sliced thin


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the spice mix ingredients.

  3. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the spice mix and whisk to combine.

  4. Cut the chicken into 2 inch pieces. Add to the bowl with the spice mix and oil and stir gently to coat completely (I use my hands).

  5. In a large, heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers.

  6. Add one layer of the chicken to the pot. Brown the chicken in batches, making sure to brown on all side. Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon to a platter to keep warm covered with foil until all of the chicken has been browned.

  7. After the last batch of chicken has been browned, remove it from the pot to the platter to keep warm. Add the chicken broth to the pot and scrape the bottom and sides to deglaze. Stir in the tomatoes.

  8. Add all of the chicken back to the pot. Stir in the chopped olives and place the lemon slices on top. Cover the pot and braise in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the chicken is tender.

  9. Remove from the oven. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve over fluffy couscous or rice.