Spicy Moroccan chicken with creamy green lentils and fall vegetables is a fabulous meal for a cool autumn day. It’s easy to make, too!
There are some fantastic spice blends in African cuisine, especially if you’re a fan of warm, spicy flavors like cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and chiles. The great news is, those spicy flavors pair really well with chicken.
For example, Ethiopia is known for berbere spice, which I use in my recipe for berbere chicken and lentils. Harissa is a hot chili paste from Tunisia, and it, too, adds amazing flavor, especially to chicken. I like to use it in the summer months to make grilled harissa chicken.
Because the weather is turning cooler, I decided to oven roast chicken thighs. Today's recipe is one I spotted in a magazine a few years back that I adapted using fall vegetables. The spices are fantastic - lots of flavor, minimal heat!
With creamy green lentils, and a cool yogurt sauce or labneh, this is another must-make African dish!
Moroccan Chicken and Lentils
Cuisine: North African / Moroccan
Difficulty: Easy 🥄
Moroccan chicken and lentils is full of flavor and texture. Spicy roast chicken thighs, creamy green lentils, tender roasted vegetables, and a cool yogurt sauce dotted with sweet pomegranate arils.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Chicken thighs- One of the reasons this meal cooks so quickly is because we use boneless chicken thighs. Generally, I use bone-in pieces when I oven roast chicken, but they do take up to 20 minutes to cook. You’re welcome to use either boneless or bone-in.
Another option you have is to leave the skin on; I prefer to use skinless. While there’s no denying the crispy goodness of roasted chicken skin, it does add fat and calories to this otherwise healthy chicken recipe.
- Green lentils- Any variety of lentil may be used but I prefer French green lentils. They are smaller and rounder in shape than standard green lentils, and they have a creamier texture as well.
Did you know?
Lentils are pulses and like legumes, they are FODMAP foods. This means, they have short chain carbs and/or difficult to digest fiber, which often times can cause gas.
To help reduce gassiness, soak the lentils for a few hours, then rinse them well before cooking.
- Vegetables- In addition to a favorite fall vegetable, butternut squash, I use firm vegetables that hold up well to oven roasting. In this case, my choices are carrot, red onion, and red bell pepper.
You’re welcome to swap these out for any vegetables of your choice. Brussel sprouts, acorn squash, turnips, and parsnips are also fall vegetables that would work well with the flavors of the Moroccan spiced chicken thighs.
Video: Making Moroccan chicken and lentils
Want to learn how to roast chicken thighs perfectly? Will this be your first time cooking lentils?
To see the process from start to finish, watch the video located in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Recipe tips and notes
- Cut the vegetables close in size. The chicken thighs will be sitting on top of the vegetables as they’re roasting, so it’s important to keep the veggies as close in size as possible. This way, they will all cook evenly.
- Chicken looking a bit dark? If the pieces look a bit dark and they need to cook longer, just cover the chicken with a sheet of aluminum foil. Just cover the dark areas; you don’t want to seal the pan with foil or the chicken and vegetables will steam rather than roast.
- Refrigerate leftovers and enjoy them again within 5 days.
- Reheat leftover Moroccan chicken in the oven for 20 minutes at 350°F. If you want to reheat chicken and lentils together, you’re best off doing so in a covered casserole dish or in the microwave. Otherwise, the lentils may dry out.
Moroccan Chicken and Lentils + Video
- 1 ½ lbs chicken thighs 4-6 boneless and skinless
- 1 tsp chili powder (or kashmiri chili powder)
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp sesame seeds
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp dried mint
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp cayenne powder
- 2 cups butternut squash cut into ¼ inch cubes
- 1 cup carrots peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 red onion sliced
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and cut into ½ inch strips
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup green lentils
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 lemon juice and zest
- salt to taste
- 1 cup Greek yogurt plain (or Labneh)
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
- Preheat oven to 425°F. In a small saucepan place the lentils and bay leaves. Cover with water to 2 inches above lentils and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to low, and simmer until tender, 20-22 minutes. (See Note 1) Drain and cool in the refrigerator.
- Combine the spice blend ingredients in a small bowl and rub the chicken thighs with half of the spice mixture.
- In a bowl toss together the vegetables and remaining spice blend and olive oil. Place vegetables in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or deep 13”x9” baking dish. Lay the chicken thighs on top of the vegetables and roast until tender and browned, 25-30 minutes.
- Discard the bay leaves from the drained, cooled lentils. Mix together in a bowl with olive oil, salt and lemon juice and zest from half the lemon.
- Dived the yogurt on each plate and top with a ½ cup of the lentils. Serve the roasted vegetables and chicken alongside and top with pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley.
- I like to use Petite French Style green lentils from Bob’s Red Mill. They stay firm and don’t turn to mush and are perfect for cold salads.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.