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North African Chicken with Spicy Green Sauce

It’s hard to believe that just three short months ago I was harvesting my fresh herbs and hanging them by their toes to dry, as we began Autumn Thyme.  Now I can hardly wait for Winter Thyme ~ A Spice Exploration.  Shortly after Christmas, we’ll be unveiling our new Winter Thyme banner….but for now, I’ll give you a preview of what’s to come.  Presenting North African Chicken with Spicy Green Sauce.

North African Chicken with Spicy Green Sauce

Thinking about what to make for dinner earlier today, I had a little North African vibe swelling.  We’ve made a couple of dishes lately with the wonderful flavor influences from this region and I’ve loved each one equally.  A quick Internet search for North African Chicken brought me this fantastic recipe from City Kitchen on The New York Times Dining & Wine page.  This Tunisian one-pot dish brings together the beautiful flavor balance of toasted caraway, cumin, and coriander seeds.  Once I read the ingredients list I knew it would go perfectly with a Spiced Cashew Rice recipe we tried a couple months ago that features the subtle flavors of cinnamon and cloves.  The entire dish was amazing, right down to the Spicy Green Sauce.  Look out North Africa…we’re about to embark on a flavor exploration and you’re on our radar.

North African Chicken with Spicy Green Sauce

My Winter Thyme goal is to better understand, and therefore share, spices and seasonings and how they add wonderful flavor and character to dishes.

North African Chicken with Spicy Green Sauce

North African Chicken {with Spicy Green Sauce}


  • 1 cup dried chickpeas soaked in cold water overnight (or 3 cups canned chickpeas)
  • 1 small onion peeled and stuck with 2 cloves, plus 1 medium onion, diced, about 2 cups
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seed
  • 1/2 tsp. caraway seed
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 4 chicken legs with thighs
  • 1 Tbl. olive oil
  • 1 inch long stick of cinnamon
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 pound carrots peeled, in 2-inch batons
  • 1/2 pound small turnips peeled and cut in wedges (or substitute potatoes in cubes)
  • Spicy green sauce for serving see recipe
  • Cashew Spiced Rice see recipe


  • Drain the soaked chickpeas, then cover with 8 cups water in a large pot. Add the onion stuck with cloves and the bay leaf, bring to a boil, then gently simmer for 40 to 60 minutes, until tender. Season with salt, leaving the chickpeas in their broth. Chickpeas may be cooked in advance. (If using canned chickpeas, rinse and add salt to taste and cook with onion 25-30 minutes).
  • While chickpeas cook, make the spice mixture and cook chicken: In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the coriander, cumin and caraway seeds until fragrant. Grind to a coarse powder with a mortar or in a spice mill. Stir in the cayenne.
  • Rinse the chicken legs/thighs and pat dry. Season generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the spice mixture and rub into the meat.
  • In a heavy-bottomed enameled soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken legs/thighs and brown gently until golden, about 4 minutes a side. Remove chicken and set aside. In the same pot, add diced onions and a little salt. Let onions soften and color for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, and scraping up any brown bits. Add cinnamon stick and garlic and cook for a minute more.
  • When chickpeas are cooked, drain, reserving broth. Return the chicken to the pot and pour in 4 cups of chickpea broth (or water). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, covered, for 25 minutes.
  • Add chickpeas, carrots and turnip or potatoes and cook, covered, for 15 minutes more. Let rest 5 minutes and skim excess fat. Serve with broth, spicy green sauce and cashew spiced rice.