Middle Eastern and North African culture has always appealed to me. As has the food. Living in Australia for most of my life, Morocco sounded so exotic, colourful and of course, far away. Since moving to Paris, I’ve been lucky enough to visit Morocco many times – for work and pleasure – and would definitely encourage you all to visit. I’ll certainly be going again! What surprised me most on my first trip to the country, was how much the cities varied. Rabat being quiet and administrative, Casablanca business-y, and Marrakech, the dessert city and tourist capital, as colourful, crazy and vibrant as you’d expect.
Chicken, preserved lemon and olive tagine is staple tagine, found in every restaurant in the country. This recipe was inspired by a tagine I had in a non-chalent restaurant in a back alley of the Marrakech medina after a long working day. It is fragrant and spicy (without being hot) and is super simple to prepare. Served on a traditional Moroccan plate, and heaped from a tagine ceramic, you can almost fool yourself into believing you are in the desert city… just don’t forget the mint tea.
Moroccan chicken, preserved lemon and olive tagine
4 chicken marylands (bone in)
2 brown onions (sliced)
5 cloves garlic
3 sprigs fresh parsley
12 sprigs fresh coriander
1TB ground ginger
1tsp ground white pepper
1/4tsp cayenne pepper
1TB ground cumin
2 1/2TB ground coriander
1 1/2TB ground tumeric
1TB saffron threads
Pinch of salt
1/4C extra virgin olive oil
2TB rice bran oil
Juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon
2 whole preserved lemons (finely sliced)
1/2C violet olives (different to kalamata and not marinated with any spices)
1/4C toasted flaked almonds
Chopped fresh mint and coriander
Flat bread and/or couscous
1. Place 4 (of the 5) garlic cloves in a food processor along with the ground spices, salt, saffron, olive oil, coriander and parsley. Process until smooth.
2. Wash and skin the the chicken, keeping the bone intact. Place the chicken in a bowl and rub in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Heat rice bran oil in a large heavy based pot and saute onions and remaining garlic clove until translucent and soft. Remove from pan and add the chicken, browning on both sides.
4. Once chicken is browned, return the onions to the pot along with the remainder of the marinade. Add 300ml water, fresh lemon juice and 1 of the sliced preserved lemons. Cover and simmer on low heat for 45-60mins or until chicken is tender and falling off the bone.
5. Stir through the olives and remaining preserved lemon.
6. Garnish with chopped fresh mint and coriander and toasted almond flakes. Serve with couscous and/or flat bread.
– If you have a tagine pot which is suitable for stovetop and oven cooking (some are simply for serving), follow the same instructions until (4), where instead of simmering on the stove, bake in oven at 170°C (fan-forced) for 45-60mins (or until chicken is falling off the bone). Continue remaining steps as above.