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Chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives recipe

Chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives recipe

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  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Poultry
  • Chicken
  • Cuts of chicken
  • Chicken breast

This tagine is really easy to do. I always taste the tagine and season with salt at the end as the preserved lemons and olives are already well salted.

41 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 6 chicken breasts cut into large cubes
  • 150g pitted green olives
  • 2 preserved lemons, cut into wedges
  • pepper to taste
  • 50g fresh coriander, chopped

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:1hr30min ›Ready in:1hr50min

  1. In a casserole, heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and sauté until soft. Stir in all the spices, diced chicken, green olives and preserved lemon. Season with pepper.
  3. Add 150ml water and simmer over low heat for 1 hour 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve warm with couscous or fresh bread.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(6)

Reviews in English (4)

I was sceptical about the minuscule amount of ingredients but my fears were all in vain. The recipe is great but when I make it again I will be reducing the olives by half as I and my guests found them a little on the powerful side. The only change I made was to use vegetable stock instead of water, other than that I followed the recipe to the letter and recommend it. It will certainly become a midweek treat in the future and a special meal when having friends round.-14 Feb 2013

Amazing dish! I made it with chicken thighs, added 2 cinnamon sticks to the pot. Made in heavy cast iron pot in the oven - 1 hr at 180 C. Also, mixed all spices with oil and rubbed chicken in this spice mix prior to adding to the pot. Used black and green olives, with pits. Preserved lemons is a must!-01 Apr 2015

Some people are not too keen on olives, so I substituted dried apricots ( they plump up and soak up the juices) and I used chicken stock instead of water for a richer turns out really scrummy !-12 Jun 2017

Recipe Summary

  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ground black pepper
  • 4 (6 ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced, or more to taste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained, divided
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup pitted green olives, divided
  • 3 tablespoons harissa, or to taste
  • ½ preserved lemon, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger root (Optional)
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, halved, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup toasted almonds

Mix paprika, cumin, salt, cayenne, cinnamon, turmeric, and black pepper together in a small bowl.

Pat chicken thighs dry and place them in a resealable plastic bag. Sprinkle paprika mixture over chicken thighs massage the bag to coat chicken evenly.

Heat oil in a tagine over medium heat. Add chicken cook until browned, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Cook and stir fennel, onion, and garlic in the tagine. Stir in half of the garbanzo beans, chicken broth, 1/2 cup green olives, harissa, 1/2 of the preserved lemon, and ginger.

Lay chicken over garbanzo bean mixture sprinkle remaining olives on top. Scatter cherry tomatoes on top. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until chicken is tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Combine remaining garbanzo beans with 2 tablespoons of broth from the tagine in a food processor or blender blend into a thin paste.

Transfer chicken to a serving dish. Stir garbanzo bean paste into the tagine. Simmer until flavors combine, about 5 minutes. Spoon broth mixture over chicken.

Chicken Tagine with preserved lemon and olives: Emile Henry vs Les Touilleurs recipes

The first recipe any new owner of a tagine will prepare is a Chicken Tagine with preserved lemon and olives. You can find tones of recipes for this classic Moroccan dish. But which recipe tastes the best?

I want to say that I am not a specialist in Moroccan cooking. I just trusted my taste buds. I am not looking for the most authentic recipe , I seeking the most delicious recipe for my liking.

I started my quest by testing the two recipes I received with the tagine pot. So round one is the manufacturer Emile Henry‘s recipe versus the recipe from one of the best cooking stores in Montreal, Les Touilleurs.

Review of Emile Henry’s recipe

I do not recommend the recipe as it is published on the Emile Henry’s booklet that in the tagine box. The taste of lemon was simply too strong. If we apply a few simple changes, I believe that the recipe has potential. You will find a link to the original recipe at the end of this post. I suggest you play around with it.

My preserved lemons have a strong flavor. I do not use a quick one-week version. If you do have the time to make the preserved lemons while in advance, I suggest you go to the farmer’s market. That is where I bought mines. They took a four to five week process to make them so they are full of flavor and soft.

If I ever redo this recipe, I would put it one preserved lemon instead of two for a whole chicken, unless the chicken is huge. I will start with the juice of a single lemon instead of two and adjust the lemon flavor as needed. I am a fan of lemons so it shows you how I feel about it. My husband was not impressed either.

On the plus side, the chicken was juicier than the one I made with Les Touilleurs’ recipe. I was not too keen on the warmed green olives when I ate that dish. I just noticed that their Web recipe simply inserts the green olives when plating while the recipe on their tagine recipe booklet called for 5 minutes cooking.

Review of the recipe by Les Touilleurs

This one was definitely better. I dish each plate on a deep bowl with lots of fresh cilantro for added texture and extra savor. I served the Chicken Tagine on a bed of simple buttered grilled almonds and capers couscous mixed with a few dazzles of olive oil. I am getting more experienced.

I used 140 g of black olives with a smaller chicken instead of 200 g of green olives suggested by Les Touilleurs.

I did not add water during the cooking. This recipe used white wine as liquid. The chicken was moist but from what I recalled it was not as juicy as the Emile Henry’s recipe. We closed accidently the stove in the middle of the cooking so it may also be the reason. I will have to try it again to know for sure.

How to make a Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives?

I translated for you the recipes by Les Touilleurs and included my comments.

Ingredients for 4 persons:

  • 1 whole chicken (1.5 to 2 kg) that you cut in 8 pieces
  • 40 g (about 3 teaspoons) of butter
  • 3 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, uncut, skin removed
  • 2 minced average size onions
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 250 ml of white wine – we used a French Bourgogne Aligote
  • 140 g of pitted black olives (original recipe says 200 g of pitted green olives)
  • 1 preserved lemon cut in small slices. Each slice was divided in four pieces
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • Pepper and Salt – which I forgot to put in


  1. Warm the butter and the olive oil in the tagine over the stove starting at the lowest temperature.
  2. When the oil is really hot, grill the chicken pieces. I slowly increase the temperature as needed, but always stayed much lower than medium.
  3. Meanwhile I mix the 2 pinches of saffron in my white wine and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  4. When the chicken is lightly golden grilled you removed the chicken from the tagine. Cook the onions and the garlic until golden in the tagine.
  5. Add the chicken and the wine to the tagine. Add salt and pepper, cover and let it cook for 60 minutes at low temperature. Check it out after 30 minutes and add some water if needed (liquid should cover about half to &frac34 of the chicken breasts).
    After 45 minutes of cooking, put the olives in boiling water to remove some salt. Add the rinsed olives and preserved lemon to the tagine.
  6. Garnish with a handful of cilantro. If you served in a communal serving plate, I suggest you let people add the cilantro in their bowl or plate. Enjoy!

About Les Touilleurs

This independent store was awarded Gift Retailer of the year in Canada in 2004. If you like shopping and cooking, make time to visit Les Touilleurs next time you come to Montreal. This high end shop is worth a detour.

Moroccan chicken recipe: a tasty and unique flavor

For this Moroccan chicken it is best to use chicken thighs but if you like other parts, you can put them as well.This tasty dish is full of different flavors, and preserved lemon and green olives give it a unique flavor. It is a slow-cook dish you will need to start making it at least three hours ahead or if it’s possible make some preparations the day before.

Chicken gets so soft and sticky that it falls off the bones easily, probably because it cooks slowly in a deep pot along with other juices. Moroccans cook this dish in tagine, a clay pot that is used to prepare tagine dishes. If you don’t have a clay pot, you can use any other pot.

Before I give you step-by-step instructions let’s summarize what you need to know:

  • You may find recipes with fresh lemons instead of preserved ones but that is not the same. Make sure you use preserved lemons, it’s easy to make, just make it one month before.
  • For the best results, marinate the chicken the night before so it soaks all the juices and spices. If you don’t have time to make it ahead, marinade the chicken for one hour at least.
  • Use chicken thighs or if you want to prepare lunch for a bigger group, use the whole chicken
  • The chicken has to be fresh or at least thawed. If you use frozen chicken don’t defrost it in a microwave, but at the room temperature.
  • Wash lemon peels before you use them and discard the pulp

Ingredients for the chicken marinade

  • 4 – 6 chicken thighs (depending on the size)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • one tablespoon of fresh parsley, chopped
  • a tablespoon of cilantro, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • ½ of teaspoon of turmeric or kurkuma
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of saffron, optional

Ingredients for the sauce

  • 6 – 8 green olives
  • 1 preserved lemon, washed and without pulp
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon

Let’s cook Moroccan chicken

  1. If it’s possible prepare the marinade the day before and leave the chicken to absorb all the spices and flavors. In a deep bowl, mix all the ingredients for the chicken marinade. Place the chicken in a deep container and pour the marinade in it. Leave it in the fridge until next day. As I explained above, an alternative way is to marinade the chicken for one hour.
  2. Transfer the chicken and all the marinade in a deep skillet or a pan. Cover the pan and stew the chicken for about one hour or until tendered. Every 20 minutes stir the chicken thighs so they get cooked well on all sides. Stew the chicken at low heat so it doesn’t start to fry. If it does, put just a bit of water.
  3. When chicken thighs are soft and cooked, remove them from the pan but leave the onions. Add ½ of teaspoon of cinnamon. Continue to stir onions so the sauce gets thick enough.
  4. After 5 minutes or so, add olives and one preserved lemon but make sure you washed it first and removed the pulp. Cut the lemon completely, so you get at least 6 slices.
  5. Stew the lemon and olives together with that sauce, for about 5 minutes and then add chicken thighs and simmer for at least 10 more minutes.

You can serve Moroccan chicken with cooked or baked potatoes. Sometimes Moroccans simmer potatoes together with the chicken, but that can be tricky especially if you use a pan of a regular size. That’s why it’s better to make it separately and then garnish chicken with potatoes. Of course, don’t forget to put lemon pieces on a plate, even if you don’t plan to eat them. The chicken thighs will look nice if you drizzle them with that onion sauce and sprinkle olives and lemons. Yummy!

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Marinating the chicken for a few hours or overnight is optional.

  • 1 whole chicken,
  • 2 large white or yellow onions
  • Small handful of fresh coriander, chopped*
  • Small handful of fresh parsley, chopped*
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (or 1/4 teaspoon Moroccan yellow colorant)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled (optional)
  • 1 handful green or black olives, (I stone and chop them up a little but you can put them in whole)
  • 1 large (or 2 smaller) preserved lemon, quartered and seeds removed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water, approximately

* Instead of chopping, you can tie the parsley and cilantro together into a bouquet and place on top of the chicken during cooking

  1. Prepare the Chicken by removing the skin and cutting into 6 or 8 pieces
  2. Remove the flesh from the preserved lemon, and finely chop. Keep the rinds in a small bowl.
  3. Very finely chop the onions, garlic, coriander, parsley and garlic
  4. Add the chopped lemon flesh to a bowl along with the chicken, onion, garlic, coriander, parsley and spices and mix well. If time allows, let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or even overnight.
  5. After marinating add enough of the olive oil to the casserole to coat the bottom. Arrange the chicken in the heavy cast iron casserole (flesh-side down), and distribute the onion mixture all around.
  6. Add the olives and preserved lemon rind, and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the chicken. Add the water to the heavy cast iron casserole, cover, and place over a medium-low heat.
  7. Bring to a simmer, try not to boil hard but you do want it to bubble very gently.
  8. Allow the chicken to cook undisturbed for 80 to 90 minutes, and then turn the chicken over so that it’s flesh side up. Cover the casserole again, and allow the chicken to finish cooking until very tender.
  9. Turn off the heat, and let the casserole cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Moroccan tradition is to eat directly from the tagine, using Moroccan bread to scoop up the chicken and sauce. French fries are frequently served with this dish, and may even be placed on top of the chicken.

Spectacular Flavours! First made for a Moroccon dinner in early January 2010 when everyone was sick of Christmas food.

History of Tagine

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that if you click through the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps me continue to provide delicious and free content on The Gourmet Gourmand.

A little history about tagine (also known as tajine): it is a Moroccan cooking vessel typically made out of clay. It has a shallow bottom bowl and a conical shaped top. The top allegedly allows for more efficient trapping of heat and moisture to return it to the food. Originally tagines were used oudoors over coals. Ovens work just fine. The types of foods that are cooked in a tagine are typically things that will hold up in a stew- tougher cuts of meats, dense seafood, chicken, root vegetables, etc. Although there are many recipes that will work very well in a tagine, one of the most classic recipes is Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Green Olive, which is specifically the recipe I’ve been religiously trying to perfect.

The recipe that I adapted is from a Michelin star chef named Mourad Lahlou. He wrote a cookbook called Mourad: New Moroccan. While I confess I didn’t purchase his cookbook, I was able to piece together his recipe through some creative googling.

I bought 4 chicken legs from my favorite butcher. If you don’t have access to whole chicken legs, you can always use a whole chicken that you cut into pieces, or you can use a combo of legs and thighs- on the bone. I think it makes a difference in terms of flavor and texture using dark meat on the bone.
Prepped ingredients for the tagine.

Note: If you do not own one of the beauties, you are definitely going to be fine. Just use whatever standard oven-safe pot you would normally use for stews and braises. I can guarantee the results will still be delicious! This is my makeshift diffuser. You want to make sure you don’t put a clay tagine directly on heat, or it may crack. Some tagines come as cast iron so that you can directly apply to heat without worry. Finished tagine! Smells so delightful.

Serve with couscous and my absolute favorite Moroccan side dish/appetizer: Carrot and Chickpea Salad with Harissa.

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that if you click through the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps me continue to provide delicious and free content on The Gourmet Gourmand.

Chicken With Preserved Lemons and Olives

Inspired by Moroccan Chicken Tagine, this tasty spiced chicken recipe uses preserved lemons for a delicious tanginess you can't find in the fresh citrus.

small chicken thighs (about 2¼ lbs)

cloves garlic, finely chopped

small pitted green olives

dried apricots, halved, or 3 fresh apricots, quartered (cut into wedges if large)

Sliced toasted almonds and couscous, for serving

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Heat oil in a large oven-safe skillet on medium. Season chicken with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, skin side down, until golden brown and crisp, 10 minutes. Flip chicken over and cook 1 minute more transfer to a plate.
  2. Add onion and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 minutes. Uncover and stir in garlic, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, ginger and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes more.
  3. Stir in broth, scraping up any browned bits. Return chicken (along with any juices) to skillet along with olives, apricots and preserved lemon. Transfer to oven and roast until chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with parsley and almonds and serve with couscous if desired.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (per serving): About 605 calories, 45.5 g fat (11 g saturated), 38 g protein, 985 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber

Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives Tagine

5 to 6 chicken thighs with bone and skin on
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 T ground coriander
1 t ground white pepper
1 t ground ginger
1 t saffron threads
1/2 t ground tumeric
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup chicken broth
1 preserved lemon, sliced into 4 to 5 slices
1/4 cup pitted green olives
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T butter
1 T chopped parsley
Kosher salt for seasoning

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. To avoid the tagine experiencing a sudden shock in temperature, I place the tagine in the cold oven and let it warm gradually during the preheat.

Generously salt the chicken on both sides and let sit for 1 hour. On the stovetop, heat cast-iron skillet with olive oil over medium high heat. Then add chicken thighs to brown them starting with the skin side first, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove chicken and set aside.

In the same skillet, reduce heat to medium low and add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent (about 3 to 5 minutes), then add all the spices (coriander, pepper, ginger, saffron, tumeric, and cinnamon) and briefly warm to bring out the aroma of the spices. (If the skillet feels dry, add a dash more olive oil but your chicken skin fat should still be there.)

Chicken in the tagine right from the oven.

Add the chicken broth to the skillet and scrub the bottom to make sure you get all the tasty bits. Then transfer everything to your heated tagine in the oven, then add the chicken thighs and cover your tagine to begin the cooking. Let cook for about 45 to 1 hour until chicken is tender and nearly falling off the bone.

When ready, removed the tagine from the oven and place on medium low heat on the stovetop (be sure to use a diffuse to protect your tagine). Add the preserved lemons and olives (and remove the cinnamon stick) and cook for a few minutes to help thicken the sauce. Add the butter for additional flavor and sheen. Finish with parsley and then remove from stove and serve immediately with couscous. Some people are fancy where they’ll have a decorative tagine to serve the dish, but you can also plate it up on a platter.


Mix the garlic, some black pepper, and a spoonful of oil. Rub the chicken with the mixture and set aside for a few hours or overnight.

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven (or tagine cooking pot, if you have one). Fry the chicken until all sides begin to brown. Add spices. (The black pepper, ginger, and saffron are most typical. If you have no saffron, consider one or two of the optional spices, which can be added according to you liking.) Add onions. Stir-fry over high heat for a few minutes.

Add chicken broth, stock, or water. Bring to broil. Reduce heat. Cover, but leave a crack for steam to escape. Simmer over low heat for thirty minutes or more.

Add olives and preserved lemons. Add salt and adjust seasoning. Continue to simmer. Remove chicken and set aside. If necessary, bring sauce to boil, stirring continuously, until thickened.

Serve chicken, covered with sauce, over Couscous or Rice. Have Green Tea with Mint with or after the meal.

Also, see Senegal’s classic chicken-lemon-onion dish, Poulet Yassa.

Preserved lemons are used in many recipes from Northern Africa. A recipe:

Ingredients: lemons and kosher salt.

Directions: Cut slits into lemons, cutting through the skin and into the fruit. Pack alternating layers of lemons and salt in a clean glass jar. (The jar and lid should be sterilized in boiling water.) Cover tightly and set aside. After one day add more salt if possible. Set in cool, dark place for two to three weeks. During this time check every few days and, if needed, add salt as necessary to keep lemons tightly packed. After the two to three week period, remove lemons from the salt and store them in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. They may be kept in refrigerator for a few months.

Tagine Cooking Pot Alert

From The Washington Post (Wednesday, November 1, 2000, Food Section):

A tagine slaoui–a glazed, often rust-colored, round earthenware platter with a tall, conical lid–is the traditional vessel in which a Moroccan stew, or tagine, is cooked and served. They are sold at every open-air market, or souk, in the cities and towns of Morocco. In the countryside, along the road, proper tagine pots are piled at pottery workshops, ready for sale.

In the United States a traditional tagine slaoui is a bit harder to come by. And for good reason. The Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert in March on tagines manufactured and imported by Dar Si Aissa Centre Artisanal, based in Marrakesh, Morocco. Its tagines were found to contain high levels of lead that can “leach into foods in significant amounts when the glaze is improperly formulated, applied or fired.”

According to an FDA spokesman, “It’s prudent for consumers to purchase a lead test kit for pottery purchased in foreign countries that may contain high levels of lead. That is the best way to protect yourself.” Lead test kits are available in many hardware stores.

Regardless, a perfect, Moroccan-style stew does not require a special pot. A Dutch oven, casserole dish with a lid, baking dish covered with aluminum foil or a Crock-Pot® or other slow cooker will do the job. Still, for the cook who covets a conical-covered pot, there are safe copies of the tagine design available. …

My favorite Tagine

Finding a favorite Tagine between the countless Moroccan Tagine recipes can be near impossible. Still this Tagine dish holds a very special place in my “foodie” heart. It is filled with the depth, sourness, and intensity that I love. Incredibly tender chicken, salty olives, and sour, preserved lemons seasoned with delicious spices. Leaving the dish to simmer for hours creates the intense and exquisite flavor. I typically serve this dish with homemade French fries on the side, but it also goes very well with for example rice, potatoes or some fresh bread.

Tagine is the Berber word for a clay pot with a cone shaped lid which is often used in the Moroccan cuisine. Similar to a casserole, the food is left to simmer, and the steam rises through a small hole in the top of the cone-shaped lid like a chimney.

If you choose to make the dish in the beautiful green Tagine of which you can find matching plates, bowls, and platters, you can put the Tagine directly into the oven and use it as a serving dish.

There are many different recipes for Tagine. Only the sky’s the limit for what you can cook in a Tagine – fish, chicken, beef, lamb together with numerous vegetables and spices.

Watch the video: ΜΕΤΑΦΥΤΕΥΣΗ ΕΛΙΑΣ (January 2022).