Morocco: Chicken Tajine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

Chicken Tajine
I have long loved Moroccan food. I’m not sure I even know when I first tried cooking it because I’ve never eaten at a Moroccan restaurant or been served it by anyone. Perhaps I found a tajine (or tagine) recipe in a magazine once and gave it a go – that sounds likely. It’s not the kind of food that’s off putting for being difficult – tajines, no matter the ingredients, are essentially a stew and in winter, who doesn’t love a stew?

I’ve kicked off the cold weather cooking in anticipation of decreasing temperatures and not a moment too soon. I’m excited. Winter cooking is the best. And after going to a Moroccan food demonstration recently, hosted by a Moroccan chef whose book I’ve loved for several years, I’m all fired up for Morocco once again.

Chef Hassan M’Souli, who has a restaurant in Sydney, Out of Africa, really reminded me about what I love about Moroccan food. The mix of sweet and savoury, of slightly sour – the lightness and richness of meat and vegetables together with preserved lemons, which I like to think of as the anchovies of Moroccan food in the way that they cook down and provide slightly salty richness to a sauce.

For my first foray back into the wonders of Moroccan food, I turned to the Food Safari book and made the Chicken Tajine with Preserved Lemon and Olives. It couldn’t be simpler as you layer all the ingredients in a pot and cook it over a gentle heat for 45mins or so.

Chicken Tajine

We’re so used to browning everything first but this tajine didn’t brown a thing. I really had to resist the urge to do that as I think I prefer my chicken nicely browned before leaving it to cook for that long but it was tender and delicious at the 45min mark and I let it keep cooking for a bit longer with the lid off to reduce the liquid a bit.

We served this over couscous which we cooked, as best as we could, in the traditional way – which is steamed over a bath of chicken stock and vegetables but I’ll save that for another post as it’s worthy of exploring in depth how it’s done. Also, I didn’t get photos.

As we move closer to winter, I’ll be doing loads more Moroccan food. A long standing favourite of mine is the Chicken and Date Tajine from Delicious magazine here. I’ve been cooking it for several years and it’s always a winner.

Moroccan desserts are also worth looking at. Lots of pastries with honey and nuts. Delicious! And fun to make I’m guessing.



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Delly
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 10:10:15

    Yay Winter!!!!!! I was reminded how fabulous it is after spending this weekend in Canberra. Your place always gets me inspired for Winter cooking. Can’t wait to do our road trip in the depths of winter and cook up a storm! This dish looks fabulous and very easy. I’ll add it to my winter wish list!


  2. David Hilyard
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 12:30:28

    I really love this dish, and will be making it soon, when Sydney has cooled down, and I have retrieved my tajine. Preserved lemon is one of those wonder ingredients, isn’t it?

    I know what you mean about browning stuff – I think it is in our DNA. But starting without browning is very typical of North African cooking, and leads to a lighter dish.

    If you don’t have a tagine – get one. They are great, and the bit of theatre, when you open the lid for the first time, with guests assembled around, is wonderful. Rich, heady billows of aromatic steam cascade across the kitchen, and everyone is impressed!

    If you get one – newer tagines are deeper than traditional, and allow for easier cooking.


  3. drkknits
    Mar 11, 2011 @ 11:37:32

    oh yes bring on winter for some proper cooking. moroccans make great stews. must get me some preserved lemon.


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