Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Moroccan Baked Chicken with Fennel and Chickpeas, it's a delicious Traybake

You all know me, and by now you know that I love to prepare a delicious and simple chicken traybake for dinner. It takes a lot of the pressure off when you are entertaining friends, leaving you time to enjoy their company. I love my oven.  Even more, I love a traybake that is loaded with flavour and is very easy to prepare. Moroccan food is packed with flavour from all those heady exotic spices, such as baharat, cumin, smoked paprika, turmeric and ginger. Fresh Fennel, a vegetable which originates from the Mediterranean region, brings its unique flavour to this dish, please don't skimp on it. 

The Fennel wedges will complement the spices beautifully and be part of the bounty of vegetables you bring to the table with the chicken along with its unique aniseed flavour. Fennel is easy to find on the vegetable shelves right now. This is a vegetable that has come of age, it wasn't around when I was growing up in Central Queensland. Gosh, I've used the word flavour 4 times in this first paragraph, and that's because there is plenty of it in this dish. Fennel is at it's best from mid-Autumn to Winter in Australia, so I'm making the most of it as often as I can.


Serves 5

5 x 220 g (or so) skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, or legs if you prefer.

250 g cherry tomatoes

1 medium-large fennel bulb, top trimmed off, base halved and cut into 2 cm wedges (or there abouts).

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 tsp each cooking salt and black pepper


1 tbsp Baharat spice mix

1 tsp each ground cumin and smoked paprika

1 tsp cooking salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 garlic cloves finely minced.

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

3 tbsp (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil


2 x 400 g cans chickpeas, drained

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/4 tsp each ground turmeric and ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp each cooking salt and black pepper


1/4 cup (3 g) coriander leaves

Let's Cook:


Mix the marinade ingredients in a large zip lock bag or non-reactive ceramic bowl. Add the chicken. In the bowl, massage the chicken with the marinade and cover the bowl (which is what I did), or seal the bag, remove the air, and massage the chicken in the bag. Marinate for 24 hours in the frig., or 4 hours at the very least.

Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C (fan forced) or 200 deg C.


Prepare your chickpeas for the tray bake by tossing all the ingredients in a bowl to combine.

I soak and cook the chick peas from scratch from dried chick peas and always have some cooked ones lurking around in the back of the frig, but by all means use the canned chick peas.

To cook your own dried chick peas from scratch:

Cook up a whole packet of chickpeas after soaking them overnight in a large bowl filled with water. Bring a large saucepan of water containing the chickpeas to the boil, then simmer them until they are tender, for about an hour, or until a couple of shells are just starting to separate from the chickpea. Drain and reserve the water they were boiled in. I often sprinkle a few dried herbs in the pot of boiling water to add more flavour. If you wish to make hummus, the softer the chickpeas the better for a creamy hummus.

Here's the link to my recipe for Classic Chickpea Hummus from scratch.

Chickpeas draining in the colander after I have cooked them.

Prepare the fennel and tomatoes by tossing with olive oil, salt and pepper in another bowl.

Baking the chicken

Place the chicken on a large baking tray measuring approx. (40 cm x 30 cm), always skin side up, and dab on any marinade left in the bowl or bag. Surround the chicken with the chickpeas, take the fennel from the bowl and drop it randomly around the chicken.

Bake for 35 minutes.

Using oven mitts, remove the hot baking tray from the oven. With a large spoon, mix the chickpeas and fennel around in the tray, to coat with the juices, and there will be a lot of delicious juices by now. Then with a basting brush, dab juice onto the chicken skin. 

Randomly scatter the oiled-up tomatoes around the chicken. These will add a pop of colour and flavour to the dish.

Bake for a further 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked, and golden.

Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

To Serve:

There will be lots of delicious juices in the pan. Spoon the juices over the chicken again.

Wash and dry coriander leaves, and scatter over the chicken and vegetables.

Encourage everyone at the table to spoon extra juice over their meal as well.


So begins the dilemma of whether or not to select chicken thighs with the skin on and bone in. In my books, there's no decision to be made, but for those of you that are against skin on and bone in the chook, please don't disregard this recipe, all of the exotic herbs and spices will do the trick if you prefer no skin.

Use the leftover fennel stalks for stews and soups or a fine leaf garnish! We can't waste fennel.

I just used black pepper out of a bottle, not my grinder to make life easier, and that worked well, providing plenty of flavour.

Please don't skimp on the fennel. More is better in this recipe.

The number of chicken thighs can be increased to feed more people if necessary. Depending on how many you add, you might need to increase the measurement of the spices accordingly and add more fennel and tomatoes. However, you will be limited by the size of your baking dish.

Once the chicken is cooked, the meal can be kept warm in your oven at 50 deg. C until ready to serve.

I've baked this dish three times now, and each time it has tasted even better than the last with small changes I've made. So here are the results of the last time I made it.

This recipe is based on another one from Nagi Maehashi's latest hit cookbook, Dinner. I'm working my way through it.

Warm wishes,



  1. I love how this traybake turned out...lots of flavours, colours and texture. Fennel is one of my very few favourite veggies. A really excellent meal, Pauline.

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  3. What a delicious-looking tray bake! I love the moroccan flavors!

    1. Jeff Moroccan food always delivers such amazing and yet slightly surprising flavours. Love it. Thaks so much.

  4. This i fabulous! I love all of the ingredients!

  5. This looks gorgeous, Pauline - and, as we are preparing for a trip to Morocco soon, I will be making this as part of my "Due diligence!" Thanks!

    1. Thanks so much David, how exciting and exotic to be travelling to Morocco. I'll look forward to your Moroccan recipes:)

  6. Looks amazing! My kind of dinner.

    1. Thanks so much Amalia, everyone I cook it for really enjoys it.

  7. I love chicken thighs with bones-in but hubby doesn't so I usually end up going bone-less :) Or a bit of both. Gotta love a traybake! We eat a lot of chickpeas in this house. So good for you.

    1. Sherry, I have jars and jars of dried chickpeas, so we eat a lot of them too.Great to hear from you, thanks.


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