Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Easy Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives:

At this time of year I love spicy food, warming stews and rich, deep flavours.  A Tagine is a  Morroccan dish that usually involves meat or fish and some kind of fruit.  It seems particularly appropriate to make a chicken and preserved lemon tagine with olives – It’s  the sort of recipe that  with the aid of some  Gourmet Garden samples, some chicken, an onion and a few ingredients you  already have in your store cupboard, will produce impressive results that belie the effort involved.

The set of herbs in the photo were sent to me with the challenge to create a dish that showcases how useful these little tubes can be.   Now, during the summer, my windowsill is usually full of pots of fresh herbs.  But, for some reason, my fresh coriander never lasts long, and at this time of year nothing looks particularly healthy anyway.  So herbs and spices in a tube that you can keep in the fridge and use when you need them, but still get a really fresh flavour, are a great idea.

This Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons is a dish you shouldn’t try to hurry too much.  And, it’s best made with chicken thighs, which have the advantage of being relatively cheap too,  to produce really tender moist meat. If you want to make a quicker version, then by all means use chicken breasts but try to buy the sort with skin on and some bone still left.  By using chicken breast, you can cut the marinade time down to around 30 minutes and you shouldn’t need to cook the tagine for more than half an hour without the lemon and olives and then half an hour to finish off.  If you don’t have a tagine, you can, of course, make this dish in a normal casserole, but the principle of the tagine is that it will part casserole and part-steam your dish, making the meat particularly tender. And, preserved lemons are quite unlike the fresh sort –  it’s well worth keeping a jar in the cupboard if you like this kind of recipe.

Lemon Chicken Tagine with Spicy Chermoula

Serves 2
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 45 minutes
Total time 2 hours
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Region African



  • 4 Chicken Thighs (or two Chicken breasts with skin and bone in for the quick version)
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 tin Tomatoes
  • 250ml Chicken Stock
  • 6-8 Small Potatoes
  • 150g Pitted black or green Olives
  • 1 Preserved Lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Olive oil
  • 1 handful Fresh Parley


  • 1/2-1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Chilli
  • 1 pinch Saffron (soaked in a little warm water)
  • 1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Gourmet Garden Coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Ground coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Ground cumin seeds
  • 25ml Olive oil
  • 1 Preserved Lemon (Any seeds removed and chopped finely)
  • 1 teaspoon Tumeric
  • Salt and Pepper (To taste)


Step 1 Make up the chermoula by mixing all the dry ingredients, then add the oil, then the remaining ingredients. Stir well together to mix into a paste.
Step 2 Place the chicken portions in a tupperware or similar container and add all the chermoula, smearing it over the meat. Seal and shake to cover everything well. Marinade for at least two hours (at room temperature) or overnight in the fridge. If you are using chicken breasts, you can cut the marinade time down to half an hour (minimum!)
Step 3 Warm the oil in a tagine or oven proof casserole and fry the onion till soft
Step 4 uncooked tagine
Add the tomato, potato and chicken together with all the chermoula. Top up with chicken stock and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer gently for an hour, (half an hour for chicken breast portions) checking to see the mixture isn't too dry and topping up with water or chicken stock as necessary
Step 5 Remove the flesh from the preserved lemon and cut the skin into thin strips.
Step 6 Add the lemon skin and olives to the tagine. Check and adjust the seasoning and cook for a further 30 minutes or so, topping up with chicken stock if necesssary and stirring very occassionally but otherwise not disturbing the mixture
Step 7 chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives in tagine
Turn off the heat and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving with a garnish of fresh parsley and moroccan flat breads or couscous


This is a simplified tagine recipe that takes advantage of Gourmet Garden herbs and spices to make the marinade quickly and easily.

My chicken tagine recipe is perhaps rather spicier than some versions but otherwise quite a classic dish.  I use a chermoula to marinade the meat – a mixture of herbs and spices with a little olive oil and preserved lemon.

chicken tagine with preserved lemons - olives


The same chermoula mix works well with baked fish and can also be used as a rather fabulous barbeque marinade.  In winter, the fresh herbs are hard to get hold of and I have never liked chopping up chilli, garlic and ginger – I have a bad tendency to rub my eyes afterwards and with contact lenses that’s not a great idea.  And, while it looks complicated, the Gourmet Garden herbs and spices make the chermoula very quick to put together though you DO need to be patient and allow the mixture to marinade for at least half an hour, or if possible a few hours.  Having said that, this dish can be made in advance and it freezes very well.


I’m also sending this it to the One Ingredient Blogger Challenge ( GINGER) this month held over at Franglais Kitchen and run by How to Cook Good Food.

If you want to use this for the 5-2 diet, then use half the amount of olive oil in the chermoula and replace the potatoes with carrots and celery.  It’s not quite as hearty, but the calorie count will then be around 350 per portion, assuming you don’t eat the chicken skin;)



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  1. nomadic translator says

    Mmmmmmmm! I can already smell the chicken tagine over here. I miss the aroma of Moroccan food. I studied abroad there for a semester and loved it. Although I must admit, I preferred couscous Fridays! ;D Do you happen to have a couscous recipe?! My roommate made a really good Moroccan chicken recipe with couscous:

    but not the elaborate couscous sauce. Been on the lookout for a good recipe!

    – Maria Alexandra

  2. Erin S says

    Chicken tagine was my all time favourite when I was a child.
    Before your recipe I had never found that quite matched my Moroccan nanny’s recipe.
    A massive thank you London Unattached
    Choukran & Bismillah !

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