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Chicken Ras El Hanout With Lentils

Melinda Parrish

Adapted from Whole spice by Claudia Sansone
Yields 4

The name Ras el Hanout loosely translated means “head of the shop” and is meant to represent the very best the spice the merchant has to offer. When sprinkled onto chicken and fish before pan-frying, grilling, or baking it gives a golden color and mild, aromatic spiciness that is very agreeable. Ras el hanout goes well with lamb, game, tagines, and couscous dishes.

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 10 min
Total Time: 1 hr 20 min


  • 1/2 cup of black lentils, rinsed  
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Ras el hanut (1/2 for chicken & 1/2 for sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seed powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup of chicken or vegetable broth


Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a small pot and add lentils. Cook lentils for 7 minutes and turn off the heat. Let it remain in the hot water until chicken is almost cooked.

Rinse the chicken well. Remove any excess fat. Season both sides of the chicken with salt, black pepper, and ras el- hanut.

In a large casserole over medium high heat add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onion and garlic and sauté until brown about 8 minutes. Add spices: saffron, ginger, black pepper, salt, turmeric, Ras el Hanout, and fenugreek; sauté for 3 more minutes.

Add seasoned chicken to pot and sprinkle over the chopped fresh parsley and cilantro. Cover and lower the heat. Simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Drain lentils from the water. Turn chicken thighs over, add lentils, and 1/3 cup of chicken or vegetable broth; stir, taste juices, and adjust seasoning to taste. Cook for 20 more minutes until lentils are soft and mostly absorbed.


Serve with Pita bread or over rice. This dish may be made with double the lentils for a vegan recipe.