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Tagine Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives

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I have been wanting to buy a tagine – which is a Moroccan cooking utensil – for ages now. I finally got one a few weekends ago and it was only $15!! Make sure you buy just a plain terracotta one, and not a decorative one – as these are not meant for cooking.

It is important to prepare your tagine before you use it. I soaked mine in the sink overnight (the base and the lid) and then I put it on the cooktop, over a very low heat and filled it with water, salt and a few bay leaves. I brought it to the boil (which took ages!!) – and then tipped out the water. This is the process of “seasoning” the tagine – like you do with a wok. If you use your tagine regularly, you probably don’t need to soak or season it again. However, if you only use it every few months, I think it would be worth doing this before you use it each time – it helps prevent cracking when the tagine comes into contact with heat.

It’s also very important to cook anything in the tagine under a very low heat – it’s not designed for frying, but slow cooking.

Now that I have given you some tips about your tagine (you can find a lot more advice on the web too, if you Google it) – onto the recipe. This is the second most popular dish in Morocco, behind cous cous. I was inspired to make it after watching Food Safari – all I could think about after watching the episode about Moroccan food was that I had to go out and get a tagine!! Check out more of the recipes from this episode here.

I found with this recipe that I had to cook it for double the amount of time then then suggested 45 minutes – that the 1 cup of liquid should be about half a cup, as the tagine overflowed!! I also think it needs a little less preserved lemon for the finishing garnish. It’s a very tart flavour – but I think with a little less, it would have been perfect!

I really hope you give it a try!!!

Tagine Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Chermoula Marinade

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 preserved lemon, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • ½ birds eye chilli
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, stems and leaves
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in a little water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves, torn in half

Other ingredients

  •  1 whole chicken, size 10 or 12
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 150g pitted green olives
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 preserved lemon, cut into 6 segments.


Process all ingredients together in a food processor until finely chopped and thoroughly combined. Leave for 30 minutes before using. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

Wash and dry the chicken and remove backbone, wing tips and any excess fat. Cut into pieces. Rub all over with ½ of the chermoula marinade and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

Combine the tomato and onion with a little more chermoula and spread into the base of the tajine (this will prevent the chicken from burning on the bottom).Arrange chicken pieces in the centre of the tajine on top of tomato mixture. Coat potato wedges with chermoula and arrange around chicken. Top with onion slices, then tomato slices and olives in between the potato wedges.

Mix chopped coriander with remaining chermoula and water. Pour over mixture. Decorate top with preserved lemon wedges.

Cover tajine with lid and cook on a very low gas heat for 45 minutes. Do not stir or lift the lid during the cooking process.

Serve with couscous.

As mentioned earlier – I needed to cook my tagine longer, and when I make it again, I will be reducing the amount of liquid and preserved lemon. However, this is the original recipe and you can modify as I have advised if you like.

Despite that – this tagine recipe was sooo delicious. I really enjoyed it – it was something quite different to things I have made before – which is exactly what had me so excited to try it in the first place!

I really hope you run out and buy a tagine, if you don’t already have one, and give this a try. I can’t wait to use mine again and try out heaps more Moroccan recipes!




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