top of page

Mquilla | Moroccan Fish Tagine with Chermoula & Vegetables

Here’s another great colorful, fish and vegetable laden Moroccan Tagine dish that celebrates preserved lemons. Thick whitefish fillets, marinated with chopped up preserved lemons, olives, olive oil, saffron and of course chermoula.

One of things I love about cooking from across continents and cultures are the wonderful similarities that exist across the board; from Argentinian chimichurri, Italian Pesto to Indian Chutney, we have so many versions of finely chopping or grinding together fresh herbs to create a lovely mixture to be used in a myriad ways. In this Moroccan version, chermoula is used as both a seasoning for the vegetables as well as a marinade for the fish.

Onions, potatoes, colorful bell peppers, tomatoes are layered, seasoned with chermoula and mound with marinated fish fillets ready for the tagine. If you don’t have a tagine, use a Dutch oven.

As in most tagine dishes,  the dish is assembled off heat and then a medium-low heat is applied to the tagine until a ‘happy sizzle’ emits from the dish.

After the dish has been stewing for an hour or so and as if that wasn’t enough to make it delicious already, thin slices of preserved lemon, pitted green olives and piece de resistance – Grade A saffron strands are added in the last few minutes to finish the dish.

Wonderfully fragrant, full of healthful ingredients and magnificent with a side of couscous, I hope you love this as much as we do!



Recipe for:

Mquilla | Moroccan Fish Tagine with Chermoula & Vegetables

Shopping list: Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 20 minutes, Marinating time: 4 hours to overnight/ Cooking time: Approx 1 hour

3 lbs. thick white boneless, skinless, fish fillets such as swordfish or cod

1/3 cup olive oil

1 large yellow onion

1 large onion, cut into rings (optional)

2 carrots or celery stalk, cut into thin sticks

4 red skin medium potatoes, cut into thin slices

3 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into thin slices

1 red bell peppers, any color

1 green bell pepper

1 preserved lemon, cut into thin strips

1 cup mixed pitted olives

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black ground pepper

½ tsp saffron threads

½ tsp sugar

Spices (for potaotes):

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 large bunch cilantro leaves

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tbs smoked paprika

2 tbs roasted ground cumin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp harissa paste (optional)

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled

3 tbs vegetable oil

juice of 1 lemon


Chermoula: Grind all the above ingredients to a paste or a food processor. Reserve 1/2 of the chermoulaand marinate the fish with the remaining half.  

Fish: Cut into large 2-3” pieces. Marinate the fish with chermoula for at least 2 hours but preferably 4 hours.

Peppers:  Cut off the top and remove the seed core. Slice into ¼” thick rings.

Onion: Peel and cut into ¼” thick rings. Separate the rings and set aside.

Tomatoes: Remove the woody top. Halve length wise and cut away the seeds and core. Cut the tomato lengthwise into ¼” thick strips.

Carrots: Peel and cut into 3” long pieces. Quarter each so you end up with long strips.

Potatoes: Wash, cut into ¼” thick circles. Toss with the spices in a bowl.

Preserved lemons: Discard seeds and cut into thin slices.


Pour the olive oil into a tagine,

Spread the onion rings on the bottom

Spread the carrot sticks in the center to form a bed for the fish.

Arrange the potatoes around the perimeter of the tagine.

Top the potato slices with the tomato strips

Top the vegetables with the reserved 1/2 chermoula

Mound the fish and its marinade to the center of the tagine, and arrange the pepper on top of the fish

Garnish the tagine with the lemon slices and olives. Sprinkle with salt and pepper all over.


Cover the tagine. Heat over medium-low heat (gas mark 6) and you should hear a sizzle within 15 minutes. If you do not, increase the heat slightly and wait for the sizzle in 5 minutes.

Cook over medium-low heat for about 1 hour or so stirring very gently once ½ way during the cooking time.

Once the fish and potatoes are completely cooked for an hour, top with lemon slices, olives, sugar and distribute the saffron strands. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Stir very gently, taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve with simple couscous.



Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page