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Chicken Tagine (Morocco)


Moroccan cuisine has a blend of savory, sweet, sour, spicy, and cumin that will make your mouth very happy. 

For tagine, think about braised meat in an earthenware dish with a conical top.  Now, you probably don’t have one.  I’ve been wanting one since forever and every year during the holidays, I drop hints while my wife and I are browsing in Sur la Table, but I still go tagine-less.  Of course, you don’t really need one, though the conical lid really does help to concentrate the flavor.  The steam rises to the top of the cone and gets absorbed into the unfinished terracotta.  As a result, the braising juices reduce and become richer.  But if you have a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet with a tight-fitting lid, you’ll do just fine.

Chicken works extremely well in a tagine. It’s excellent.  In the Djemaa El-Fna episode, I described a classic recipe adapted from the New York Times' cooking site.  Apparently, now, even though I have a subscription to the actual paper, I do not have access to their recipes.  So this one is adapted from the Guardian.  Thank you, Guardian!

Makes four servings


  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced lengthways

  • 3 garlic cloves

  • 2 tsp ground ginger

  • ½tsp saffron, in a little warm water

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • Juice of ½ lemon

  • 2 small preserved lemons

  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

  • Small bunch of fresh cilantro

  • 6 chicken thighs

  • 3/4 cup chicken stock

  • 3 tbsp kalamata olives


  1. Heat a tagine or heavy-bottomed shallow lidded pan on medium-high heat and add the oil.

  2. Place the chicken in the pan and sear on both sides, removing when brown, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan..

  3. Turning the heat to a medium, add your thin-sliced onions.

  4. Let them cook down thoroughly until caramelized.

  5. Mash the garlic with ½ tsp salt and add to the pan.

  6. Sprinkle over the ginger, saffron water and cinnamon, followed by the lemon juice, and coarsely chopped pulp of one preserved lemon and the rind of both, cut into slivers.

  7. Add the parsley and 2 tbsp chopped cilantro and toss it all together well.

  8. Arrange the chicken on top of the vegetables and scatter the olives on top. Pour chicken stock into the pan, cover tightly and simmer very gently for about 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

  9. Season to taste and top with chopped cilantro

  10. Serve over couscous or with flat bread

Recipe adapted from

Photo by Flickr user Foodista

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