Rfissa - Moroccan Lentil and Chicken Dish

There are some Moroccan foods (like Sfa) that are so good, you’ll never find them on a restaurant menu. Rfissa is one of those dishes. The simple ingredients of chicken and lentils are elevated with the inclusion of spices and a slow cooking time – until everything is falling apart, delicious.

Rfissa is a special dish that is typically made around the time a woman has a baby. The ingredients are said to replenish what her body loses in childbirth and replace nutrients. Fenugreek is a distinctive ingredient that also is said to help with milk production. You don’t have to use fenugreek – and many people don’t because of its distinct taste but traditionally it’s an important ingredient.

Msemmen - Moroccan Flaky Bread

The second unique ingredient is this dish is msemmen. These flaky breads, often referred to as pancakes, are the base for the dish. If you don’t live in Morocco, you’ll need to make them as well. They are a little tricky but the good news is, they don’t have to look pretty for this recipe! You’ll be shredding them to fill up the bottom of a plate so even if they look bad, they’ll still taste great.

Set aside some time to prepare this dish and be sure to eat it right away – it’s best served hot.

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts or any other cuts of chicken equally 1 pound (500g)
  • 1 medium onion chopped finely
  • 1 tsp saffron threads crumbled slightly and soaked in warm water
  • palm size bunch of flat-leaf parsley or cilantro (or both)
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp ras al hanout
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek
  • 1/4 cup (125 grams) uncooked lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 cooked msemmen

Lentils for Rfisa

Directions

  • Prepare the lentils by soaking as long as possible, preferably overnight.
  • Place chicken, onions, oil, ginger, salt, pepper, and ras al hanout to a bowl and mix well. It should marinate at least 30 minutes but can be left as long as 12-16 hours. Both the lentils and chicken can be prepared a day ahead.
  • To begin cooking transfer to a heavy bottomed skillet. Turn the heat to medium high. Brown the chicken on all sides and add 3 cups of water. The chicken will start to cook and a sauce will be created within 20-30 minutes.
  • Drain the water from the lentils and add to the chicken along with the saffron, fenugreek, parsley, and cilantro.
  • Continue to cook on medium heat until the lentils are tender and chicken is falling apart. You should still have sauce left in the pot. Test and adjust seasoning if needed.
  • To serve rfisa, heat up the msemmen and shred them onto a large platter. Don’t be stingy with the amount of msemmen used (it’s the best part!) You shouldn’t be able to see the plate underneath the msemmen. Scoop the chicken, lentils and sauce and place on top of the msemmen.
  • This dish is meant to be saucy – the msemmen will soak up the sauce and when it mixes with the buttery flaky msemmen the taste is amazing!
  • Serve hot and eat by using msemmen as a utensil to scoop and sop up the chicken and sauce.

Exploring Moroccan Food

If you want to explore Morocco through it’s amazing food culture, begin planning your adventure today. We at Journey Beyond Travel are always perfecting what we do (and we haven’t ignored food!). Throughout each of our excursions, we include local food adventures, whether it’s meals with village families (where you get great ‘secret’ recipes such as Rfissa) or ensuring that each riad you stay serves something local and scrumptious. Beyond that, we’ve got food tours, cooking workshops, and more to make your trip fun to the palate, body, and mind. So, reach out to us as we’re ready to help you put together an unforgettable Moroccan experience!

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