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Moroccan Style Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons & Olives

Once in a while, not very often I come across a medley of flavors that makes me sit up and pay attention.

The kind I know that will forever be embedded in my pshyce and onto my taste buds. The refreshing flavors of the cilantro based marinade, the signature tang from the preserved lemons to the briny flavors from the olives does all that and more.

You'll never think of chicken as the same old boring bird and I know I'll love this dish forever - right up there with my love for the likes of pollo pibil.

No way are these dishes related or an are even from the same continent but they transform the humble bird into something exotic and memorable. And how often can one say that?!

Tagine, is my fave version of 'fast food' not so much because it take a jiffy to make but rather, that the ingredients are all piled into one conical mound, fitted with the conical tagine lid and then forgotten on a slow simmer for the next hour. Meanwhile, I'm free to potter around, writing blog posts, watching PBS chat with 'my person' and do a load of laundry.

Yippee! As you can see nothing gets me in a tizzy more than the ability to multi-task through my chores!

As my Aussie-Moroccan friend Yasmine has often reminded me, forget about searing the chicken with skin on the way many western versions of the dish profess. This chook is all about cooking in steam and it's own juices. And nothing worse that all that skin releasing it's fat in a skim layer over the whole dish. Yuck!

So do it the traditional way and get the butcher to skin and joint the chicken for you. The tagine will not only be yummier but also better for you.

Traditionally this dish is served with a mound of fries - yup them greasy French fries which we all love but can't afford to. So I serve mine with Moroccan style taters with a hint of cumin, oven roasted to perfection in the oven which is fab too and much much healthier for us all.

That recipe coming up next. Meanwhile, get this dish on your calendar 30 days from now but begin with preserving your lemons today!



Recipe for

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons & Olives

Serves 4

Shopping List:

1 whole chicken, skin removed, cut into 10 pieces

1/3 cup olive oil

1-2 large yellow onions (to yield 5 cups thinly sliced onions)

½ cup full fresh cilantro, chopped

½ cup full fresh parsley, chopped

1 tbs chopped garlic

Spices for marinade:

1-1/2 tsp ginger

1 tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt

Spice paste:

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cumin-coriander

1 tsp ras-el-hanut

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp ‘Grade A’ Spanish Saffron


1 cup (or more) cracked green olives

1 tsp ghee or smen

1 preserved lemon


Cilantro & Parsley: Wash,separate the leaves from the tough stalks. Roughly chop and set aside.

Preserved lemon: Halve the preserved lemon and remove all seeds carefully. Finely chop ½ the lemon and thinly slice the other half of the lemon. Reserve the lemon slices for later use.

Use only the chopped lemon in the marinade.

Olives: Drain from their liquid and separate into 2 batches. Use 1 batch in the marinade and the other ½ during cooking.

Chicken: Dry on kitchen towel and set aside in a bowl. Add the spices for the marinade, garlic, chopped lemon and herbs. Massage the spices into the meat. Add the olives and marinade for 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator covering the bowl with plastic wrap.


In a tagine or a dutch oven, pour the oil. Layer the onions at the bottom.

Fleshy side down, add all the chicken and juices to the pot. If single layer is not possible, slightly tower in the center.

Cover with the tagine cone shared cover or lid and place on medium high heat, 6 gas mark (NOT high or the tagine will crack).

With 15 minutes you should hear a sizzling sound from the tagine or pot. If not slightly increase the temperature and give it 5 minutes or so until you hear a sizzling sound.

Add no water and cook uninterrupted for 30 minutes. Stir and add only ¼ cup water if at all needed and continue cooking for another 30 minutes or so until the chicken is falling off the bone.

Spice paste: In a bowl combine the dry spices, saffron strands. Slightly crush the saffron strands to emit the oils. Add 2 tbs water and form a paste.

Add the spice paste, remaining olives and preserved lemon slices. Taste and adjust seasonings in the gravy. Replace the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Set aside for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Traditionally, this dish is served loaded with French fries but I think it does very well with Moroccan style roasted potatoes and a side of simple couscous.

Garnish with some chopped parsley before serving.




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