When entertaining for the holidays, I love an all-encompassing dish that can feed a crowd and looks impressive. Made for sharing, a tagine is the perfect centerpiece for your festive table. Served straight from the vessel used to cook it, this tagine is piled high with spiced vegetables and roast chicken.

My tagine celebrates the vegetables gathered at the end of summer harvest, where zucchini is still in its abundant glory. This dish also embraces hearty staples of the coming season: butternut squash, chickpeas and warming elements of ginger and the Yemeni spice blend hawaij. This tagine requires a few steps, but all of them are simple and fast. Feel free to make this without the chicken for a hearty vegetarian main dish!

Hawaij Roast Chicken Tagine With Chickpeas, Zucchini, Olives and Butternut Squash
(Photo: Johanna Rothenberg)

Hawaij Roast Chicken Tagine With Chickpeas, Zucchini, Olives and Butternut Squash


  • Chicken marinade:
  • 5 chicken thighs, skin on (roughly 2 pounds, 8 ounces)
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Less than ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon dark honey
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • For the tagine:
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus extra as needed
  • 1 large onion, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 2 zucchini (4 cups), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 4 garlic cloves (3 tablespoons), minced
  • 2 tablespoons hawaij (see notes below)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • 1½-2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 4 saffron strands (optional but strongly recommended)
  • 1½-2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup green olives, cut in half
  • 2-3 tablespoons parsley and cilantro, minced


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 410 degrees, preferably convection roast.
  2. For the chicken thighs: Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine cumin, garlic powder, lemon zest, lemon juice, kosher salt, dark honey and olive oil. Stir well to combine. (If you find the marinade too thick, drizzle in a little extra olive oil.)
  4. Trim excess fat off the chicken thighs, pat dry, rub marinade underneath the skin and on the bottom of each thigh.
  5. Heat a 12-inch heavy-bottomed pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Working in batches, sear chicken thighs, skin side down, for 2 minutes until skin is a dark, golden brown. Flip the chicken and sear the bottom for 1 minute and transfer, skin side up, to the parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Roast chicken for 35 minutes, or until juices run clear and an inserted thermometer reads between 175-180 degrees. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and set aside.
  7. For the squash: While the chicken is roasting, line a 9×13 baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Toss cubed butternut squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and kosher salt to taste.
  9. Roast in the oven for about 35-45 minutes, until the tips of the squash cubes are a deep color and the squash is firm but tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  10. For the tagine: Heat a 12-inch (3½ quart) cast iron braiser (with a lid) with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. (If you don’t have a braiser, you can use a deep, 12-inch heavy-bottomed pan or skillet with a lid.)
  11. Sauté onions until they are translucent and the edges turn golden brown, about seven minutes. Stir frequently.
  12. Add the cubed zucchini and continue cooking for five minutes. Stir frequently.
  13. Add the rinsed and drained chickpeas, garlic and fresh ginger. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until ginger and garlic are fragrant.
  14. Add the hawaij, ground cumin, smoked paprika, ground coriander and ground cinnamon. Stir and cook for one minute, until the spices are toasted and fragrant.
  15. Add 1½ cups of vegetable or chicken stock and stir.
  16. Add the saffron threads. Adjust salt to taste.
  17. Reduce to a simmer, cover the braiser and let cook for 20 minutes.
  18. Add cooked butternut squash and olives to the tagine. Stir carefully.
  19. Nestle the chicken thighs amongst the vegetables. Cover, and let simmer on low heat for an additional 15-25 minutes
  20. Serve the tagine in the braiser, sprinkled with minced parsley and cilantro.


  • Spices: Use the best quality spices you can find, The better the spices, the better the quality of your dish overall.
  • Hawaij: Hawaij is a Yemeni spice blend. Every spice company has their own unique spin to their hawaij—find one that speaks to you!
  • Chicken: I chose to brown then roast the chicken separately because it gives the chicken more depth of flavor and does not release excess fat into the tagine itself.
  • Vegetables: I love a dish that can change with the contents of my refrigerator. You can swap the butternut squash out for another hearty vegetable of your choosing or add others to the tagine.