Moroccan Preserved Lemon Chicken Tagine brings fall-off-the-bone tender chicken together with a bright flavor from preserved lemons and a savory burst of green olives. This recipe creates a perfectly comforting dish that is full of bright, spring flavors.
What is a Tagine?
A tagine (or tajine) is a Moroccan cooking vessel with a cone-shaped lid that perfectly channels the cooking steam back into the ingredients, keeping everything moist and juicy. If you don’t have a tagine, don’t worry. (As you can see from our pictures, neither do we.) A high-sided, cast iron skillet with a lid works quite well as a tagine replacement.
Preserved Lemon Tagine
Today, we’re diving once again into the wonderful world of tagines, but we’re taking the robust tagine flavor in a lighter a brighter direction with some Moroccan preserved lemons. You can buy preserved lemons from specialty food shops or you can make preserved lemons yourself.
Preserving lemons in a salt brine has been used since the 1800s (and maybe earlier) as a way to keep the fruits fresh for long journeys. The salt adds a unique savory element to the tartness of the lemons which brings a distinct bright flavor to any dish that they are used in.
Moroccan Preserved Lemon Chicken Tagine
One of the most well known Moroccan tagines is probably the chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives. The lemons add a springy brightness to the chicken and the olives add an extra savory punch to the dish.
If you’re not a huge fan of green olives, try the dish with black, Kalamata olives for a slightly different, but just as tasty flavor.
By slow cooking the chicken in the tagine, you end up with meat so tender you can cut it with your fork. Add some of the lemony and herby sauce and a piece of moroccan flatbread and you are in for a real North African treat!
Djaj Mqualli (Moroccan Preserved Lemon Chicken Tagine)
For best flavor, season the chicken a minimum of 3 hours before cooking.
For the Rub
- In a small bowl, mix together ginger, turmeric, and saffron. Rub the spice mixture into the skinned chicken pieces. Place the chicken on a plate and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the seasoned chicken for 3-4 hours or overnight.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 1 hour before you would like to start cooking.
- When you are ready to cook your chicken, heat the oil over medium high heat in a tagine or high-sided cast iron skillet with a tight fitting lid. Add the diced onions and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant and soft.
- Layer the chicken pieces over the bed of sautéed onions. Add the olives, lemon pieces, and water (or stock). Scatter the chopped parsley and cilantro over top of the ingredients in the skillet).
- Cover the skilled and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer the mixture, covered for 2 hours, checking occasionally and adding extra water or chicken stock if the mixture looks too dry after an hour of cooking.
- After 2 hours, remove the skillet from the heat and let it stand, covered, for 10-15 minutes before serving with Moroccan bread, rice, or couscous.
DISCLOSURE: This post does include Amazon affiliate links. These links are provided to help you find some of the more specialty ingredients we mention in the recipe. If you make a purchase on Amazon after following our affiliate links, we do receive a small commission from Amazon, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Curious Cuisiniere!