Seffa - Moroccan Chicken With Vermicelli

The coming weeks call for celebrations and this dish is kind of the Moroccan emblem for festivities! So because of that, you have to make it very soon, whether you use chicken or turkey, it doesn’t really matter.

Seffa is a dish of couscous or vermicelli served with a sweet and savoury onion sauce and chicken pieces topped with ground almonds, icing sugar and cinnamon.

Seffa tastes very much like bastila, although its preparation requires less time and I personally found it just as comforting and alluring. 

This dish is a real treat! It’s perfect for this chilly weather and celebratory time of the year. 

Enjoy!

Seffa – Moroccan Chicken with Vermicelli

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 800 gr onions, sliced (red or yellow)
  • 1 kg whole chicken cut in pieces or 1 kg chicken legs and thighs
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 1 cinnamon stick or ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Generous pinch saffron
  • 1 small coriander bouquet, tied
  • 1 small parsley bouquet, tied
  • 400 ml water or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 500 gr uncooked vermicelli (+ 2 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon salt to season it once cooked)
  • 100 gr dark raisins, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and drained
  • 100 gr roasted almonds, roughly ground
  • Cinnamon and icing sugar to taste for garnish

METHOD

• In a large casserole, heat the olive oil and the butter, then add the onions over medium heat. Cover with a lid and leave the onions until they are soft and translucent, about 10 min. This will allow to sweat the onions.

• Uncover the casserole and add the chicken, garlic, spices, salt and white pepper.

• Add 400 ml of water or chicken stock and increase the heat to high. (Or pour just enough water or stock to roughly cover the chicken).

• Place the coriander and parsley bouquets in the casserole on top of the ingredients.

• Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium low and cover the casserole with a lid. Leave to simmer gently until the chicken is cooked, about 30 to 40 min depending on your chicken.  

• Once the chicken is cooked remove it along with the coriander and parsley bouquets from the casserole. Set aside the chicken to cool and discard the bouquets. If you’ve used a cinnamon stick, you should discard it at this stage of the recipe.

• Add the honey to the onions sauce and reduce the sauce for 20 to 30 min over medium heat (stir occasionally to make sure the onions don’t stick to the bottom of the casserole). There should be some liquid left in the onion sauce once it’s ready, we don’t want all the liquids to evaporate. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if there is no more liquid in the casserole at this stage.

• Taste the sauce and add salt if necessary to adjust the seasoning.

• Meanwhile, prepare the vermicelli according to the manufacturer's directions. Once cooked, add 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt and the raisins to the vermicelli. Taste the vermicelli and add salt if necessary to adjust the seasoning.

To serve

• Once ready to serve, place the chicken back in the casserole to warm it up over medium heat. Place the vermicelli mixture on a plate and top with the chicken, the onion sauce, ground almonds and sprinkle the top with cinnamon and icing sugar. Serve warm.

Notes

• Traditionally this dish is served with either vermicelli or couscous. Feel free to use couscous instead of vermicelli for this recipe. Use the same quantity of couscous (500 gr). 

 •Traditionally, this dish is served like this. I am not a big fan of this presentation but feel free to do it if you like it. To do this presentation, start by placing the chicken on a plate and then add the sauce on top of the chicken. Top with enough vermicelli to hide the chicken and the sauce, then decorate with ground almonds, cinnamon and icing sugar.