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Which came first the chicken or the preserved lemons?

February 20, 2010

A recipe for Chicken Tagine

For last months can jam challenge I made several jars of preserved lemons.  It was the first time I’d done this and so I was excited for the time when they’d be ready and I could cook with them.  In the end I got all busy with other making and baking and its mid February before I’m getting round to using my lemons.  Yesterday I finally made a chicken tagine, and it is awesome!

First of all you should know that the preserved lemons are wonderful.  When I opened the jar I was not too sure what to expect, all that’s in there is a ton of lemon and salt.  But the scent that wafted up from the jar was sort of sweet and floral before it was citrusy.  I was entranced.  I made Melissa come and have a giant sniff.  I stood and admired them for a while.    Finally I got back to making the tagine.

The recipe comes from the same book, Arabesque, that I recommended when making the preserved lemons, and, once again Claudia Rodin does not disappoint.  It’s a really easy recipe to make and yet has a really great complex flavor — the combination of olives and preserved lemons is simply perfection.  I made a giant batch of couscous to serve it on and there you go.  Easy and impressive Moroccan fare. The first mouthful had me transported back to Marrakesh which I was lucky enough to visit a few years ago.

Chicken Tagine: slightly adapted from Claudia Rodin’s Arabesque

  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 med onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp crushed saffron threads
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 chicken cut into pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • 1/2 c. water
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 4 Tbs chopped coriander
  • peel of 2 medium preserved lemons, cut into thick slices
  • 16 pitted olives

In a large pot fry the onions in the olive oil until soft, stir in the garlic, saffron and ginger.  Then add the chicken pieces and pour in the chicken stock and water.  Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, turning the chicken occasionally, and then remove the chicken breasts.  Continue to simmer the remaining chicken until cooked, about another 25 minutes then return the breasts to the pot.   Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  If the sauce is still thin remove the chicken and set aside and reduce the sauce until it is thick.  Add the chicken back and heat through.

Serve on a bed of couscous (which I make by adding boiling water to the couscous in a bowl, allow to sit covered 5 minutes, stir in 2 Tbs butter and fluff the couscous to break up the grains)


–By Talia

11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2010 8:39 am

    Mmmmm… Thanks for posting the recipe- it looks pretty much the same as the one I’ve made, but didn’t have the preserved lemon. I may have to go ahead and can up some lemons this weekend, thanks to you!

    • February 20, 2010 10:39 am

      You will be glad you did! the only thing not good is having to wait for them to be ready!

  2. Indira Banerjee permalink
    February 21, 2010 10:02 pm

    The recepie does not seem to be that complicated and what I have heard from Noerah that it tastes delicious as well.

    I will definitely try this recepie. My daughter had a Moroccan chicken sometimes ago and she has been talking about that dish ever since.

    Can I take the skins off in this recepie or you have to keep skins on?

    • February 21, 2010 10:04 pm

      I can’t see why it wouldn’t be ok to take off the skins: probably healthier! it really is an easy recipe: just make the lemons in advance so they’ll be ready!

  3. lbfromla permalink
    February 22, 2010 9:36 pm

    the recipe sounds wonderful… but what should I do if I am either too lazy or too incompetent to preserve the lemons myself?

    • February 22, 2010 9:43 pm

      i am sure you can buy preserved lemons in a middle eastern store — in New York they are available at Kalustyan’s ( their website is pretty annoying but I think you can even order online from them. However, I have to say, making the lemons is definitely quicker and easier than going to a special store for them! I can give a lemons back guarantee on that (if you don’t find it easier, i’ll make you preserved lemons myself!)

  4. February 23, 2010 7:48 pm

    I need to make these again. I just ordered some fido jars (rather than ball jars as the lids rust with all that acid) just for making preserved lemons and as you have to wait for them to be ready, there’s no reason to procrastinate. I used Mark Bittman’s recipe and just loved the spice combination he suggests.

    LOVE Claudia Roden. I have her middle eastern cuisine and almost bought arabesque at a book fair but was trying to be “good.” That and Falling Cloudberries. The fact that I remember this means I made the wrong decision 😉

    • February 23, 2010 10:30 pm

      i have one very large fido jar maybe i’ll do lemons in that next (i didn’t know what they were called: but i checked them out after you mentioned it!) I think I’m going to make another batch soon myself, I don’t want to run out ever!!
      I definitely think next time you see arabesque you should just do it: I know all about buying too many cookbooks but this one is a real winner!!

  5. Sarah permalink
    February 24, 2010 10:54 am

    i made this with a jar of *gifted* preserved lemons from Talia. All right, i have to confess, i didn’t make it. Nilay made it. But, from what I could see if seemed pretty easy to make and it is unbelievably delicious.

    it was even better the second day. thanks tali!

    • February 24, 2010 10:56 am

      I could never have done it without my fine copy of Arabesque: so thanks to you and Nilay for that! And so glad you guys enjoyed it.

  6. lbfromla permalink
    February 26, 2010 5:47 pm

    While searching the internet for places to buy preserved lemons in West LA I came upon this delicious looking shrimp recipe,1,4114075.story
    By the way it seems that preserved lemons can be found with ease at any one of many Middle Eastern markets in my neighborhood.

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