Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons

Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 45 minutes

This popular recipe from Morocco is a favorite of mine. Tagine also known as Tajine is the name for the cooking pot as well as for the dish. The dish is cooked over low heat so flavors can develop intensively. Preserved lemons give it a delicate flavor. As a substitute, one can use a combination of lemon juice and lemon zest.

You can buy the Tagine cooking pot in Middle Eastern food stores and markets or through the internet. You may want to serve the dish in a decorative Tagine.


  • 8-12 chicken thighs and legs with bone, skin and any trace of fat removed
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • salt and pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (25 g) cilantro (fresh coriander leaves) or fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cups (450 ml) warm chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups (340 g) large green and black olives cured in oil (like Kalamata olives), no canned olives
  • 2 preserved lemons, pulp removed and cut into slices or juice of 1 lemon plus the zest of 2 untreated lemons


Mix ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl. Rub the chicken thighs and legs with the spice mixture and set aside.

Choose a saucepan large enough to hold all chicken pieces in one layer, if possible. Warm the olive oil in the saucepan. Add the onion slices and garlic and sauté them for about 10-15 minutes, or until onions are golden. Arrange chicken pieces on top of onions. Add enough chicken stock to cover the parts and sprinkle cilantro (fresh coriander leaves) or parsley on top of it. Bring it to a rapid boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer it for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put green and black olives in a small saucepan and add water to cover. Bring it to a rapid boil. Lower the heat and simmer olives for about 2 minutes. Drain olives well and set aside.

Add olives and preserved lemons or lemon zest with the lemon juice to the chicken onion mix. Simmer uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.

If you like the sauce a bit thicker, remove chicken from the saucepan and keep it warm. Continue reducing the sauce to your liking. If serving with couscous or rice it is better to leave sauce a bit more liquid.

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