Moroccan-Spiced Chicken

Kevin Brennan

Detroit Athletic Club, Detroit

Spiced with an aromatic dry rub, the chicken is skewered and grilled until charred and smoky and served with a cucumber–raisin yogurt sauce and fluffy couscous.

Note: chicken breasts work well with this recipe however chicken thighs will provide a meatier flavor and will be more forgiving in the cooking process.


Spiced Chicken:

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts or thighs
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil 

Raisin and Cucumber Raita:

  • 1/3 cup raisins 
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup English cucumber, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint    
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper 


  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Optional garnish: fresh herbs, such as cilantro, parsley, or mint


Place the chicken breasts or thighs on a board and cover with plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, lightly pound the cutlets until they are 1/4-inch thick. (You can ask your butcher to split and pound the chicken for you to save time.) Cut the chicken into the desired size (note: 1-ounce portions are good for a first course or appetizers, 2 to 3–ounce portions are good for a main course.)

In a bowl, combine all of the spices with the chopped garlic, lemon juice, and grapeseed oil. Coat the chicken in the spice rub making sure that each piece is fully covered in the spices. Place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate (one day ahead is ideal).

Skewer the marinated chicken to keep it as flat as possible. (Note: soaking the bamboo skewers in water prevents them from burning as quickly.) Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat and cook the chicken skewers until they’re cooked through on both sides, about 5 minutes per side depending on the size of your skewers.

Make the raita: in a small bowl, plump the raisins in white wine for 1 hour, then drain any excess moisture. In a large bowl, combine the raisins with the yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, mint, and lemon zest and mix well. Cover and refrigerate to allow the flavors to blend.

Make the couscous: in a saucepot, bring the stock to a boil. Add the butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the couscous to the stock, cover, and remove from the heat. Allow to stand for 10 minutes. With a fork, fluff the couscous and gently fold in the cilantro, lemon zest, and extra virgin olive oil. Cover until ready to serve.

Serve the skewers on a bed of couscous topped with a dollop of raita and some fresh herbs.


4 servings