Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons, Moroccan Olives with Saffron-Raisin Quinoa

Moroccan Tagine

Moroccan Tagine

By Cat, May 2010 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

See also: 1. Slow Roasting/Braising Chicken (About); 2. Brining Chicken; 3. Butterfly & brine game hen; 4. Saffron-Raisin Quinoa (as Couscous Substitute); 5. Couscous, Steamed; Other sites: 1. Chicken Tagine with Green Olives & Preserved Lemon

In case you are not familiar with Moroccan cuisine, a tagine is a stew, typically laced with fragrant spices, fruits and meat. In Morocco, a tagine pot (heavy clay pot with a cone-shaped lid) is set directly over coals. However, this recipe is quicker-cooking than a slow braise, and uses a saucier or other large saucepan with lid.

This tagine is served with steamed quinoa flavored with saffron and raisins; however, the more traditional accompaniment is couscous, which can also be flavored with saffron and raisins.

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons, Moroccan Olives with Saffron-Raisin Quinoa

This recipe is adapted from Steven Cooks blog (1). It uses a whole chicken, cut into pieces (saving the bony backs and neck for another use, such as making stock). However, one could use 2 game hens, butterflied and brined.

If you cannot find Moroccan olives, use mixed Greek olives, cut in half if large. I highly recommend using brined olives as opposed to canned ones – you may find these in an olive bar in your local store, or in a refrigerated display.

Preserved lemons have been dry-brined in salt (using the natural juices of the lemon to dissolve the salt), to use during the seasons when fresh lemons are not available. These are easy to make at home, but of course you have to make them well ahead of the day you want to make this dish. I usually make up several jars to keep in my pantry. See Preserved Lemons (lacto-fermented).

The Saffron-Raisin Quinoa (as Couscous Substitute) recipe is found on a separate page; alternately you can make this with couscous, following the instructions to steam the couscous, and adding the saffron and raisins as in the Quinoa recipe.

See also: Preserved Lemon Citrus Chicken with Chervil Gremolata or Chicken Tagine with Green Olives & Preserved Lemon (2)

Serves 4.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into parts: drumsticks, thighs, wings, half-breasts breasts (save bony pieces for homemade broth)
  • 1 tsp lard or coconut oil
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • 1/2 cup water or homemade chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup pitted Moroccan olives (or any brined olives)
  • 1 recipe Saffron-Raisin Quinoa (or Couscous)
  • Equipment:
  • 3-quart saucier, with lid
  • platter


  1. Brine chicken breasts for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Cut each half-breast in half, if they are large.
  2. Heat lard* in saucier over high heat and brown chicken on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove to a platter. *If you use olive oil, use only medium heat; the chicken won’t brown as much.
  3. Reduce heat to low; add onion, garlic spices and lime juice. Stir to combine, then place chicken parts on top of the mixture.
  4. Rinse preserved lemon; separate lemon pulp from the peel. Chop the pulp and scatter over chicken; cut peel into julienne and set aside.
  5. Add water/stock to the pot and simmer, partially covered, about 30 minutes, until chicken is done.

Assembly or Serving ideas

  • Place a 2/3 cup scoop of quinoa/couscous mixture on each plate, then chicken pieces. Spoon sauce from pot over chicken. Scatter julienne of preserved lemon peel and garnish with parsley.


  1. Steven Cooks recipe (
  2. Food Network recipe (


About Cat

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