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Healing Moroccan Chicken Stew: A Recovery Recipe for New Mamas

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Discover how to make a simple and delicious healing chicken stew for new mamas. This dish is inspired by the postpartum traditions of Morocco and uses warming spices and lemon balm tea to support breast milk production and postpartum healing.

Bowl of Healing Moroccan Chicken Stew with blue mug of lemon balm tea and side dish of cous cous

If you’re looking for a nourishing and delicious meal to prepare for your postpartum freezer stash or a new mama in your life, you’ll love this healing Moroccan chicken stew. The chicken is cooked in a rich, aromatic broth and served with couscous, and a pot of lemon balm tea, which has a lovely lemony-minty flavour and helps with relaxation and digestion.

I learned about this dish when I was pregnant with my first baby, Massimo, and I was researching different cultures and their postpartum healing practices. As a naturopath and herbalist, I love to infuse medicinal herbs into everyday dishes.

This dish is one of the treasures that I found in my search. It has become one of my favourites to make for myself when preparing for a new baby and other new mums in my community. It is so simple to make, so delicious, and leaves your body feeling so warm and comforted.

The Benefits of Moroccan Chicken Stew

This stew is based on a dish called “Chicken Rfissa”, which is usually served to new mums in Morocco three days after the birth of their babies, along with strong lemon balm tea. This is a time when many new mums experience a drop in their mood as their hormones adjust and their milk comes in. My midwife told me that there’s an old saying: “When the milk arrives, so do the tears” – a gentle reminder that it’s normal to feel emotional during this transition.

That’s why this stew is designed to nourish and comfort the new mum, with ingredients that have specific benefits for postpartum healing and breastfeeding.

Stack of spices used in the Healing Moroccan Chicken Stew

Warming Spices Support Circulation & Soothe Postpartum Cramps

After giving birth, you’ll likely experience some degree of afterpains, which are period-like cramps as your uterus contracts back to its original size. While normal, it’s uncomfortable and painful, especially if this baby isn’t your first.

One way to ease these cramps is to physically stay warm (hot water bottles are a must, avoid cold foods and eat nourishing soups and stews infused with herbs and spices that warm the body, promote blood circulation and reduce inflammation.

And this chicken stew has all those warming spices in droves! When you see that the recipe calls for 5 tablespoons of fenugreek and 1.5 tablespoons of ginger powder, those are not typos! That’s creating a medicinal meal.

Nourishing Chicken Bone Broth

This recipe calls for homemade chicken broth, but if you don’t have access to chicken carcasses or broth making feels a bridge too far at the moment, you can always opt for chicken stock or filtered water.

Chicken bone broth is made by simmering chicken bones, a splash of apple cider vinegar and other ingredients for up to 24 hours until the broth becomes gel-like, rich and flavorful. Chicken bone broth has many benefits for your health, such as:

  • Rich in amino acids from the cartilage, which are the building blocks of proteins that your body uses to make new cells and tissues.
  • Filled with minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are important for bone building.
  • The bone marrow helps replenish the blood and iron that you may have lost during childbirth, which can prevent anemia and fatigue.

Lemon Balm Tea to Accompany Your Chicken Stew

Lemon balm belongs to the mint family and has been used for a long time to soothe the nerves, calm and cheer the heart. It can can also help you and your baby with any tummy troubles, such as cramps, or colic. It can relax the muscles in your stomach and intestines, and make you feel more comfortable. The bright notes of light lemon offset the rich aromatics of the stew beautifully, so if you can get your hands on some, it comes highly recommended.

Healing Moroccan Chicken Stew, mug of lemon balm tea and cous cous arranged on a tray on a quilt

Healing Moroccan Chicken Stew with Fenugreek and Lentils

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken marylands
  • 4 large onions, thinly sliced into half-moons
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper, ground
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ginger, ground
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric, ground
  • 1.5 tbsp Ras el Hanout (you can buy this at Middle Eastern stores, or make your own, see recipe below)
  • 1 cup uncooked lentils, green or brown (soaked overnight with a splash of apple cider vinegar, then drained)
  • 4 tbsp fenugreek seeds (soaked overnight separately and drained)
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken bone broth

To serve

  • Cous Cous (follow packet instructions)
  • Fresh parsley and/or coriander for garnish
  • Lemon balm tea to accompany

Cooking Instructions

Ahead of Time

The night before (or at least six hours before cooking), soak the lentils in cold water with a splash of apple cider vinegar. Also, soak the fenugreek seeds in a separate bowl of water overnight. Drain them when you’re ready to use. If you’re using homemade chicken bone broth, make sure you get this going the night before.

Cook the Chicken and Lentils

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C.
  2. In a large skillet, sauté the onions in extra virgin olive oil on medium-low heat until they become soft and translucent. You may need to do this in two batches or use two skillets.
  3. Add the ginger, turmeric, Ras en Hanal, salt, and pepper. Stir until the mixture becomes fragrant.
  4. Transfer everything to a large cast iron pot or Dutch oven and add the drained lentils and fenugreek.
  5. Rinse the chicken marylands in water until the water runs clear, then pat them dry with a tea towel. This helps get a nice colour on the skin.
  6. Return the skillets to the stove, wipe them clean if needed, add more extra virgin olive oil, and heat on medium-high.
  7. Once hot, add your chicken marylands, skin side down. Cook until the skin turns a nice golden brown, then transfer them, skin-side up, to your pot, arranging them on top of the onion, lentil, and fenugreek mixture. Repeat until all the chicken is done.
  8. Add the chicken bone broth, cover, and place it in the preheated oven. Cook for 60 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the lentils are soft.
  9. To Serve: Place a maryland of chicken on a bed of couscous in a shallow bowl, and distribute the lentils, onions, and broth over the top. Garnish with parsley and/or coriander.

Ras en Hanal (Spice Mix)

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika (sweet or smoked)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Ras en Hanal Instructions:

  1. Combine the Spices: Use a spice grinder to blend all the ingredients until you have a powder-like consistency.
  2. Store in an Airtight Container: Transfer your Ras el Hanout spice mix to an airtight container, such as a glass jar or a spice tin. Seal it tightly to keep it fresh.

Recommended Resources

  1. “Newborn Mothers” by Julia Jones – Discover the origins of Chicken Rfissa and postpartum healing practices in this lovely book by Julia Jones, a postpartum doula. She delves into the significance of nourishing meals for new mothers and shares insights on using food as medicine during the postpartum period. Read it here.
  2. “Nourishing Newborn Mothers: Ayurvedic Recipes to Heal Your Mind, Body, and Soul After Childbirth” by Julia Jones – Julia Jones offers a postpartum recipe book based on Ayurvedic postpartum principles. Explore the wisdom of Ayurveda as it applies to nourishing and healing during the postpartum journey. Find it here.
  3. “The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother” by Heng Ou, Amely Greeven, and Marisa Belger – Explore the postpartum traditions and nourishing practices from around the world in this insightful book. It offers a holistic approach to postpartum care and recipes to support new mothers during their first forty days after childbirth. Check it out here.

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Healing Moroccan Chicken Stew with Fenugreek and Lentils

Healing Moroccan Chicken Stew with Fenugreek and Lentils

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

This stew is best served with steamed couscous, which adds some carbs and fiber to the meal. You can make it ahead of time and freeze it in portions, or cook it fresh when you need it. Either way, you’ll love how it makes you feel - warm, cozy, and nourished.

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken marylands
  • 4 large onions, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper, ground
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ginger, ground
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric, ground
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Ras el Hanout (you can buy this at Middle Eastern stores, or make your own, see recipe below)
  • 1 cup uncooked lentils, green or brown (soaked overnight with a splash of apple cider vinegar, then drained)
  • 4 tbsp fenugreek seeds (soaked overnight separately and drained)
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken bone broth
  • Cous Cous (follow packet instructions)
  • Fresh parsley and/or coriander for garnish
  • Lemon balm tea to accompany

Instructions

  1. The night before: soak the lentils in cold water with a splash of apple cider vinegar. Also, soak the fenugreek seeds in a separate bowl of water overnight. Drain them when you're ready to use. If you’re using homemade chicken bone broth, make sure you get this going the night before.
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C.
  2. In a large skillet, sauté the onions in extra virgin olive oil on medium-low heat until they become soft and translucent. You may need to do this in two batches or use two skillets.
  3. Add the ginger, turmeric, Ras en Hanal, salt, and pepper. Stir until the mixture becomes fragrant.
  4. Transfer everything to a large cast iron pot or Dutch oven and add the drained lentils and fenugreek.
  5. Rinse the chicken marylands in water until the water runs clear, then pat them dry with a tea towel. This helps get a nice color on the skin.
  6. Return the skillets to the stove, wipe them clean if needed, add more extra virgin olive oil, and heat on medium-high.
  7. Once hot, add your chicken marylands, skin side down. Cook until the skin turns a nice golden brown, then transfer them, skin-side up, to your pot, arranging them on top of the onion, lentil, and fenugreek mixture. Repeat until all the chicken is done.
  8. Add the chicken bone broth, cover, and place it in the pre-heated oven. Cook for 60 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the lentils are soft.
  9. To Serve: Place a maryland of chicken on a bed of couscous in a shallow bowl, and distribute the lentils, onions, and broth over the top. Garnish with parsley and/or coriander.

Notes

Ras en Hanal (Spice Mix)

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika (sweet or smoked)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Ras en Hanal Instructions:

  1. Combine the Spices: Use a spice grinder to blend all the ingredients until you have a powder-like consistency
  2. Store in an Airtight Container: Transfer your Ras en Hanal spice mix to an airtight container, such as a glass jar or a spice tin. Seal it tightly to keep it fresh.

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