This skillet chicken and basmati rice dish is anything but plain and humble. A homemade seasoning mix, preserved lemon and spiced and pan-seared chicken breasts give the dish bold flavor that’s hard to resist. It’s quick enough to make as a delicious weeknight dinner but tasty enough for entertaining or a special-occasion meal.
Rinse and drain the rice 3 to 5 times to get rid of excess starch. Set aside.
Combine the cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, turmeric and 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and sprinkle them on both sides with half of the spice mixture.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large (12-inch) pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When hot (but not smoking), add the chicken and sear until it forms a golden brown crust, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken and set aside.
Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons oil into the same pan and place over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice and the remaining spice mix and stir to combine.
Remove the flesh of the preserved lemon (discard the seeds and save the flesh for another use). Finely chop the lemon rind (peel). Add the rind to the rice followed by the olives. Stir to evenly distribute the olives. Pour the broth and 1 1/2 cups water into the pan and increase the heat to medium high. Bring to a simmer, place the chicken breasts back in the pan and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes (see Cook’s Note).
You can serve the chicken as is, or shred it and add it back to the rice. Serve sprinkled with parsley.
A staple of Arab Mediterranean cuisines, preserved lemons can be found at specialty stores or online or made at home a few weeks in advance.
If the rice is still firm after 30 minutes, add 1/4 cup water and cook for another 10 minutes.
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