Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives from Chef Gabriel Israel

Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives Photo by: Danielle Colen
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Former Chopped champ Green Fig and The Shuka Truck Chef Gabriel Israel shares his family recipe for Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives.  This deeply flavorful recipe requires simply putting all of the ingredients into a pot and letting them cook over gentle heat.

Chef Gabriel was first inspired to cook when visiting his grandfather in France as a child. He would go into the garden to pick vegetables and herbs and his summers were spent surrounded by ingredients and being with his beloved grandpa in the kitchen.  

As an adolescent, his first job was helping his father in his restaurant/catering kitchen, but he often recalls cooking with his mother in their home.  Evident in his cooking is that nurturing mother’s touch. He cooks with a deep sense of passion and love, no measurements, just using your eyes and senses to season and prepare.

When sharing this recipe (look for the video soon!), Gabriel told us that when he was serving in the IDF (Israeli defense forcess), he lost one of his best friends.  This dish, which he learned from his own mother was one he brought to his friend’s mother house for the shiva (a term for a 7 day memorial in the jewish tradition, when friends and neighbors may visit the mourning family, bringing food and comfort.)  He recalls it being the first thing his friend’s bereaved mother was able to eat.  More importantly, he recalls it being a communication of love and comfort without having to say any words. Chef Gabriel on that day reminded us about the power food has to bring people comfort, nourishment and love and how deeply our memories os food connect us to to the people in our lives.

Turning back to his roots, Chef Gabriel has returned to his native Israel with his wife and is currently the culinary director of a new Tel Aviv based concept call L28 Culinary Platform. You’ll hear more on this and chef Gabriel when we release his recipe video this spring so look out for a spotlight on this rising star.

Serving Size: Serves 4-6


4-6 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick attached)

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. turmeric

3 garlic cloves, crushed

3 bay lay leaves

2 open handfuls Spanish or Israeli brined olives (use pitted goya manzanilla or green Israeli olives)

¼ cup olive brine

¼ cup very good fruity, deep green olive oil

¼ cup water

Leaves from one bunch cilantro, cleaned

2 lemons

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Place the chicken, spices, garlic, bay leaves, olives, brine, olive oil, and water in a pot. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Squeeze the juice from one lemon over the chicken. Cut the other lemon lengthwise and then crosswise into slices. Scatter over the other ingredients.

Place the cilantro on top. Turn the heat to medium and once you hear a slight sizzle or see little bubbles, turn the heat to low, cover and cook at least an hour. Do not remove the cover. After an hour, check for tenderness and continue to cook if needed. The meat should fall easily off the bone.

This dish can be served right away or cooled down and served 1 or 2 days later.