A Tagine is a Moroccan stew that is cooked and served in a “Tagine” which is where it gets its name from. It doesn’t mean you need to have a Tagine to make one – a decent heavy based saucepan will do – however I feel that clay material that a tagine is made from adds a rustic, earthy flavor and aroma to whatever is being cooked in it.
The shape of the tagine also contributes to the way the food will be cooked and because the conical shaped lid of the tagine traps steam and returns the condensed liquid to the pot, very little water is needed to cook meats and vegetables to buttery tenderness. The Tagine base should never come in direct contact with the stove top or heat source so you will need to use a diffuser which can be bought from most decent kitchen supply shops and is inexpensive.
This Chicken, Lemon & Olive tagine is a classic Moroccan dish and served in various forms all over Morocco. You can also use fresh lemon if you can’t find the preserved type but if you do find some they are worth buying as you can use them in many other dishes too.
Ingredients – serves 4
1/2 large preserved lemon finely chopped and seeds removed (or flesh of half a lemon chopped)
8 pieces of skinless chicken – drumsticks and thighs or 4 Supremes
1 large onion finely sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic minced
1 small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
1 small handful fresh coriander chopped
3 tsp Moroccan spice ( equal parts (so 1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander, paprika & turmeric and 1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon & ginger – mixed – you can use rest later so store in a jar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp ghee/butter
½ chopped red chilli (optional)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 handfuls pitted olives (green or black, or mixed)
1 cup water/chicken stock (add saffron if you like and have)
½ cup chopped apricots (optional but adds a sweet sickness and the melt into the stew)
Couscous/Rice or flatbreads to serve
1. Marinate the Chicken – best done night before or in the morning – or at least a few hours before cooking.Cover the chicken pieces in the garlic, coriander, parsley, spices, preserved lemon and salt. If time allows, let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
2. Cooking in a Tagine
- Place the heat diffuser on your gas/electric stove top and then place the tagine base on top with a little oil in it and start to warm it up gently.
- Add your butter or ghee and melt.
- Add the onions and fry gently till browned.
- Arrange the marinated chicken in the tagine, flesh-side down, placing the pieces on the onions and cook for 2 mins.
- Add the olives and apricots and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the chicken.
- Add the water/stock to the tagine & cover, leaving on a medium-low heat.
- Give the tagine time to reach a simmer without peaking. If you don’t hear the tagine simmering within 10 minutes, slightly increase the heat, and then use the lowest heat setting required for maintaining a gentle—not rapid—simmer.
- (You CAN add some chickpeas here as in video below if you wish to add some extra bulk to the tagine but its just as nice without)
- Allow the chicken to cook undisturbed for 45 minutes, and then turn the chicken over so it’s flesh side up. At this stage you could also top the Tagine (as per video) with peeled and halved carrots and allow them to steam above the tagine. Cover the tagine again, and allow the chicken to finish cooking until very tender (about 45 minutes)
- If you want to add courgettes then you can add 15 mins before the end as you don’t want them to be mushy and overcooked.
- Turn off the heat, and let the tagine cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving.