One of the most memorable dishes during our trip around the world was the Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Lemons and Olives. While we had delicious food in most places in Morocco, the flavours of this exquisite dish were simply unforgettable. It just captures the country well with its unique blend of ingredients — olives, lemons and spices (turmeric and saffron).
We first had a taste of Moroccan tagine in the winding lanes of the medina of Fez, the first city we visited in Morocco. After a long day of finding our way back to our hotel after a fascinating walk along the meandering alleyways of Fez, we went to a local restaurant and ordered a Moroccan dish we had never heard of. Based on instincts that chicken, lemon and olives would mean a delicious meal — and it was. The Moroccan chicken tagine with lemon and olives was unforgettable, we had it so many times in many different cities but we never got sick of its flavours. Because we loved the dish so much, we actually named our souvenir leather camel, “Tagine”.
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What is tagine, anyway? The name of the dish “tagine” refers to the earthenware pot where the dish is cooked. We probably should have bought one while we were in Morocco but we just didn’t have room as we were on such a long trip. We have tried varieties of tagine while in Morocco but the best flavour was still the chicken tagine with lemon and olives.
In my attempt to relive our memories of Morocco and the delicious food we had while we were there, I attempted to cook tagine even without the earthenware pot. I also couldn’t find the traditional preserved lemons, which is used in the dish so I opted to use fresh lemons instead. The result? A delicious Moroccan tagine recipe that resembles the local version. If you are looking to recreate the Moroccan chicken tagine with lemon and olives but want to do it with ingredients available at home, check out my recipe below:
500 g chicken breast
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large white onion minced
1 small handful of fresh parsley chopped
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
2 teaspoons crushed ginger
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads crumbled
1 handful green pitted olives
1 fresh lemon thinly sliced and seeds removed
- Marinade the chicken spices, garlic, cilantro, olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and marinade in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed pot or deep skillet. Saute onions with a bit of olive oil.
- Place the chicken pieces in the pot once onions start to become translucent. Cover and cook the chicken over medium or medium-low heat, gently stirring and turning the chicken every 15 minutes or so, until the chicken is tender enough.
- Keep the heat adjusted so that the chicken doesn’t scorch, and only add a little water if you feel you must; typically the chicken will braise in its own juices.
- Add the lemons, olives, the rest of the saffron and simmer gently for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Serve with crusty bread for soaking up the sauce. (we used pita bread, which worked just fine)
Have you tried to make this Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Fresh Lemon and Olives recipe? Have you tried Moroccan food? Let us know.