Although olives are not very Indian at all, I absolutely love them. They are very healthy & nutritious to boot. Olives are high in dietary fiber, iron, Vitamin E and antioxidants. They are important in promoting both good cardiovascular & gastrointestinal health. Olives are also thought to have anti-inflammatory & healing properties.
Historically, olives are considered to be one of the world’s oldest foods and thought to have originated in Crete almost 7000 years ago. Olives are a large part of the healthy heart smart Mediterranean diet.
My Citrusy Chicken with Olives is one of my most requested dishes; tender succulent chicken simmered with fragrant aromatic spices and olives – what’s not to love here? I prefer green olives for this dish but feel free to use your favorite variety of olives, just make sure they are all pitted!
CITRUSY CHICKEN WITH OLIVES
1½ to 2 lbs skinless chicken pieces (I used chicken thighs)
1 cup pitted olives of your choice
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1½” piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 sprig rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
1 tsp ground cumin powder
½ tsp ground coriander powder
¼ tsp red chili powder, to taste
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cardamom
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cups of chicken stock
1 cup fresh orange juice
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbsp fresh lemon zest
juice of ½ lemon
2+ tbsp oil (olive, canola or vegetable), as needed
½ cup finely minced cilantro leaves for garnish
In a large heavy bottomed pan (a cast iron pan or Dutch oven works well) on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the chicken pieces and start browning them on all sides. This may need to be done in batches and may take 5-8 minutes. Transfer the browned chicken pieces to a plate, they will finish cooking later.
To the same pan, add oil only if needed. Now add the onions and sauté, making sure to get all the brown bits on the bottom. When the onions start to brown, add the garlic and ginger. Stir and let cook till golden brown and then add the bay leaves & rosemary along with the spices (turmeric, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, red chili powder, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground cloves, ground cardamom, salt & pepper). Stir and let cook for 3-4 minutes.
Now add the chicken pieces, along with any juices, back to the pan. Next, add the chicken stock & orange juice and bring to a gentle boil. Then cover, reduce the heat to simmer and let cook for 30 minutes. Stir and add the nutmeg, lemon zest, lemon juice & olives. Let cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked and still tender. Garnish with the cilantro leaves and serve with naan, fragrant Basmati pulao or couscous.
Feel free to add some toasted almond slices as a garnish over the top; they will add great crunch & texture.