chicken with tomatoes and olives

Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes for One

The source of this recipe for chicken with olives and tomatoes will probably surprise you. It’s a North African recipe from a Jewish cookbook.  You probably think of lox and bagels and matzo balls when you think of Jewish cuisine, but it’s really far more varied than that. This is just one example.  My recipe for Moroccan chicken and bean soup was adapted from the same cookbook.

This recipe looks a bit complicated, but it really isn’t.  The flavors of the chicken, olives, garlic, and a bit of ginger make it rich and delicious (with a hint of spiciness).  It’s not a super quick meal though, so save it for when you have more time (or on a weekend).

Castelvetrano olives, by the way, are far different from the sad specimens you get in a can. They’re firm, bright green, sweet, and buttery, almost like a fruit.  I thought I hated olives, until I happened to try these (they were an amuse bouche at a restaurant).  The restaurant is now gone, but the olives are still here!  If you can’t find those, try cerignola olives. They are large, salty/sweet, bright green, and great for snacking or cooking.

Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes for One

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 47 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: North African

one serving

chicken with tomatoes and olives

North African chicken recipe with olives, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger. It's probably not what you expect from Jewish cuisine!


  • 1T olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 chicken thigh
  • 2T pureed tomatoes (or tomato sauce)
  • tiny pinch powdered saffron
  • 3/4 C water
  • 5-6 green olives (take out the pits)
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • pinch coriander


  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Cook them until they wilt.
  2. Add the garlic and the ginger and stir thoroughly.
  3. Next add the chicken, turning it regularly, and cook for a minute or two until it browns a bit.
  4. Add the tomatoes and the saffron to the pan..
  5. Season with salt and pepper (not too much salt, because the olives are salty)
  6. Pour in the water (it should just cover the chicken)
  7. Cook on low heat for about 30 minutes.
  8. Turn the chicken every ten minutes or so and check to make sure the water hasn't evaporated. Add more water if necessary.
  9. While the chicken is cooking, heat some water in a small saucepan. When it comes to a boil, add the olives. Cook for 30 seconds or so. Then drain them and add to the chicken mixture.
  10. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  11. Add the lemon juice and the coriander and serve.


A note about the saffron. I realize it's hideously expensive. Someone brought me a container of saffron threads rom the Middle East (where it's dirt cheap), so I don't mind so much. The powdered version is a bit cheaper though.

Tools and Ingredients for Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes

Spanish Saffron

Soak this in a bit of hot water before you use it. Saffron adds a flavor that’s hard to describe, as well as beautiful reddish-yellow color. Use it for Moroccan dishes (like this one), or for Indian food. Just a tiny bit will do the trick.

Castelvetrano Olives

Use the olives for this chicken dish, or the pasta recipe below.  They’re also great with an antipasto platter. Or, add some olive oil, garlic, and rosemary, and marinate them. Serve that with a cheese platter.


The Book of Jewish Food

This is part cookbook and part travel diary. The author includes brief histories of the communities that created the dishes, and how they adapted local cuisine to suit religious restrictions. There’s recipes for the expected kugel, split pea soup, and chopped liver. But then it goes off to Spain, Baghdad, and India. From there you get leek meatballs, eggplant fritters, chicken with rice croquettes, borekas, lamb with raisins and almonds, and pumpkin kofta curry.

More Recipes with Olives or Chicken

Penne with Feta Cheese, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Olives

Summer Pasta with Green Olives and Feta Cheese

Chili Citrus Chicken Thigh Recipe for One

Chicken Thighs with Peaches and Ginger Recipe for One

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