Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

So many of you asked for this recipe, so I am happy to share it. This is a modified version of a recipe from Claudia Roden’s wonderful book “Arabesque”.

She has given a very authentic recipe which according to her book is, “the most famous Moroccan chicken dish”. Which I can believe, as it is amazing. I have modified it to make it a bit easier to prepare.

Firstly, you will need to find a somewhat unusual ingredient, preserved lemon. Don’t try to make it without this, as the flavor will just not be there. Check your local Arab or Armenian food market and if you can’t find preserved lemons, lemon pickle is a very good substitute. Normally, these lemon pickles will be from Egypt.


6 Chicken Thighs, bone in and skin removed, except for one, where you should leave the skin on for flavor.

2 large Onions, chopped very fine
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
Large pinch of Saffron threads, about one tsp.
1/2 tsp powdered Ginger
1/2 Lemon, juiced
2-3 Tbsp Cilantro
2-3 Tbsp Parsley
3 small Preserved Lemons, with pulp and seeds removed and rind sliced thinly
16 green Olives, with pits
Salt and Pepper

Heat olive oil up in a large casserole or other heavy pan, and then add onions. Let them cook until soft, but do not brown them. When done add in the ginger, garlic and saffron and stir well.

Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides, being light handed with the salt, as the olives can be very salty. Put in the chicken and lightly saute on each side, maybe 2-3 minutes per side only. Add about 1 1/2 cups of water cover and cook on simmer for 45 minutes turning at least once.

Remove the chicken and add in the lemon juice, preserved lemon, cilantro, parsley and olives and reduce the mixture down by approx. half. This should take about 7-10 minutes. Add the chicken back into the pan, warm through and serve with couscous.

Serve this with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

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