Moroccan Roast Chicken 

with Saffron and Rose Water

Morrocan Chicken

National Chicken Month

At one of Islander’s culinary club monthly meetings, members were challenged to bring a dish made with edible flowers or floral essence. Some of the potluck items included lavender scones, lavender lemon bars, blueberry pie with rose petals and a salad with sunflower seeds. In addition to bringing Maui lavender-mint iced tea, Islander shared a Moroccan chicken dish made with saffron and rose water. Other ingredients in this recipe include honey, cinnamon, hazelnuts, lemon and ginger, making the medley of flavors an exotic yet delicious combination. No wonder it was the members’ favorite flower-themed food! Make Moroccan roast chicken and savor the floral flavors during National Chicken Month.


(Adapted from Epicurious)

  • 1 large chicken, cut up into thighs, breasts, etc. (we used 12 chicken legs)
  • generous pinch of saffron
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (we used freshly grated ginger)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • ¾ cup hazelnuts, unskinned and toasted
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons rose water (not extract or essence)
  • 2 stalks green onion, chopped (optional garnish)


In a large bowl, combine the saffron, chopped onion, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper.

Moroccan Chicken

Add the chicken pieces and coat well. Arrange them in a large baking dish. Cover. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator, uncover and bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink inside.

Moroccan Chicken

Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts by stirring them in a skillet over medium-low heat, being careful not to burn them. Let cool then coarsely chop them. Place the nuts in a small bowl. Mix with honey and rose water to make a thick glaze.

Moroccan Chicken

Remove the chicken from the oven and spread the glaze over each piece. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and spoon some of the pan juices over the chicken. Transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with chopped green onion. Serve hot with rice or couscous.

Moroccan Chicken


  • Thanks to Lisa L. for giving us a little jar of saffron as a souvenir from her visits to Spain and Morocco. Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice because it takes between 70,000-250,000 flowers to make just one. The stigmas of the flower must be individually and painstakingly handpicked when in full bloom during the autumn season before drying them.
  • Rose water is not the same as rose extract/essence. The latter is derived from floral oils and is sometimes steeped in alcohol that makes the flavor taste more concentrated. Rose water is lighter and is made by distilling rose petals in water.
  • Search our blog for more chicken recipes.