Saturday, March 5, 2011

Algeria: Chicken with Olives

Until I was about 25, I did not like olives. I thought their taste was just too intense and, for the lack of a better word, weird. I don't remember exactly what happened, but for some reason or other I found the time had come to try them again. Since then, I just love them. I often have some olives and cheese as an afternoon snack. I like them on my pizza or in dishes like this one. I have made this dish before and we both loved it. I guess it can be described as the Algerian version of a stir-fry. It's easy and quick, and a great combination flavors, which I love about North African cuisines. The lemon juice gives it the final touch. I like to use lemon juice to season dishes. It always makes me feel like summer and I use less salt. I serve this dish with couscous but rice works just as well.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
3/4 tsp ground cumin
4-6 chickenbreast halves or boneless thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
juice of 1 lemon
30 pepper-stuffed olives

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, ginger, paprika, cumin and 1/2 tsp salt. Sauté for 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a bowl. Heat remaining oil, add the chicken and sauté until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Return the tomato mixture to the pan. Reduce heat, cover pan and cook until chicken is tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover the pan, increase heat and add the lemon juice and olives. Toss to warm the olives. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with couscous or rice.

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