Moroccan slow cooked Tagine stews remind me of the slow cooked curries I grew up eating in India. Both cuisines use the same spices and so the tastes and aromas have a major overlap in both cultures. I love this Lemon Chicken Tagine because it has the tartness from preserved lemons that is reminiscent of the Indian lemon pickles and then the olives and thyme give it a Mediterranean flair. Of course, I have only tasted this dish in Moroccan restaurants in the US and can just imagine how good the “real thing” in little roadside stalls in Casablanca or a Suq in Marrakesh, must be. I do hope to get there someday soon and taste the native version.
1. 8 chicken thighs or drumsticks
2. One medium sized white onion or two shallots
3. An inch long fresh ginger root
4. 3-4 cloves of garlic
5. One teaspoon of turmeric
6. Two teaspoons of dry thyme
7. One and ½ tablespoons of honey
8. A pinch of saffron
9. One tablespoon of Ghee (clarified butter) or 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
10. One teaspoon of black pepper
11. One teaspoon of salt
12. One tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
13. 15-16 black olives
14. 15-16 green olives
15. Two zucchini squash
16. 3-4 preserved lemons (jars are available in Middle-eastern stores)
17. 1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes (optional)
1. Peel and roughly chop the onion, ginger and garlic cloves.
2. In a blender, coarsely mince, the onion, turmeric, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, one teaspoon of thyme, lemon juice and 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil. If needed, add a little bit of water (to facilitate the blending process. If you use a food processor, no water would be needed.
3. Marinade the pieces of chicken in the mixture from the blender for at least 4-6 hours in the refrigerator. I usually marinade for 24 hours.
4. When the chicken is ready to be cooked, heat a large sized heavy bottomed pan.
6. When the chicken is browned, add the remaining marinade and about a cup of water into the hot pan and cover with a lid and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes. Do stir the chicken occasionally to ensure that it doesn’t burn. If needed, add a little bit more water (the chicken pieces should be partially covered with the liquid).
8. Then add the zucchini, preserved lemon quarters, the second teaspoon of thyme, honey, black olives, green olives and saffron to the pot and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
9. Taste for salt. If needed, add more salt but usually the preserved lemons a have a lot of salt in them and more would not be needed.
10. Garnish with chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves and serve with a side of couscous (regular or Israeli pearl couscous).