Saturday, December 13, 2008

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

In that same Moroccan Food Safari episode with the woman making preserved lemons, we saw a man making Chicken Tagine.

We had to wait a few months before we could make this! But finally, our preserved lemons were ready. I followed the recipe from the show.

First step, making the chermoula marinade.

In a food processor, I combined the following: garlic, half of a preserved lemon, onions, chili peppers, sweet paprika, cumin powder, cilantro (leaves and stems! I liked that.), parsley, olive oil, a couple of bay leaves, and finally, some saffron soaked in water.

I used half of it to marinate the chicken pieces. It's best to marinate overnight, of course. But a couple of hours should be all right if you want to eat now-ish.

How to assemble and cook:
Even though we didn't have a tagine, I thought I'd follow what the man did in the show and layer the ingredients like he did.

1) Adding some of the chermoula to chopped tomatoes and chopped onions and placing them on the bottom of the pot. (I had to resort to canned tomatoes because we didn't have tomatoes in the house.)

2) Next, the chicken pieces.

3) I coated the sliced potatoes in some chermoula as well and arranged them around the chicken.

4) Next, some sliced (not chopped) onions and more tomatoes went in, followed by olives.

5) I mixed chopped cilantro with the remaining chermoula and some water and poured the lot over the pot.

6) Finally, some preserved lemon wedges.

The instructions stated that the pot was to cook over very low heat and that we were not to stir or lift the lid during the cooking process. So, since our stove had the "Simmer" option (which is an even lower heat setting than the LOW), we selected that.

After 45 minutes, we checked the pot and the chicken was still raw!

Lesson #1: The cooking time and instructions were probably suited for a tagine, not a regular pot.

Lesson #2: The fancy layering (and its compact conical shape) is best suited for cooking in a tagine.

Lesson #3: Buy a tagine.

We were already quite hungry at this point. So I spread out the items in the pot and gave them room, then heated the mixture until softly boiling then turned the heat to LOW (not SIM).

After that, to stave off the pangs of hunger and avoid possible fragrant wafts coming from the pot, we went downstairs and watched some of our PVR recordings. We may have been playing it too safe in terms of avoiding disappointment with not-quite-cooked chicken, because the pot was probably left on a tad too long. Some of the items in the dish were not that "intact". (Evidence of this in the photos.)

We didn't have couscous in the house, so of course we ate this with white rice and some sauteed kale.

It was spectacular! I mean, if you believe that you need some flavor in your life, then this is the dish for you. It's definitely more than the sum of its parts.

Our favorite component in the dish?

The humble potato.

One bite of potato and you are hit with all the myriad flavors in the dish: savory aromatics and spices, tangy lemons, verdant herbs, briny olives... and even the goodness of chicken.

Our only regret is putting in one lone potato in the dish.


Moroccan Chicken Tagine
from Food Safari

2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 preserved lemon, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 onions, chopped
½ birds eye chilli
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, stems and leaves
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in a little water
1/2 cup olive oil
2 bay leaves, torn in half

Process all ingredients together in a food processor until finely chopped and thoroughly combined. Leave for 30 minutes before using. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

1 whole chicken, size 10 or 12
1 tomato, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 large potatoes, cut into wedges
1 onion, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
150g pitted green olives
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
1 cup water
1 preserved lemon, cut into 6 segments.

Wash and dry the chicken and remove backbone, wing tips and any excess fat. Cut into pieces. Rub all over with ½ of the chermoula marinade and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

Combine the tomato and onion with a little more chermoula and spread into the base of the tajine (this will prevent the chicken from burning on the bottom).Arrange chicken pieces in the centre of the tajine on top of tomato mixture. Coat potato wedges with chermoula and arrange around chicken. Top with onion slices, then tomato slices and olives in between the potato wedges.

Mix chopped coriander with remaining chermoula and water. Pour over mixture. Decorate top with preserved lemon wedges.

Cover tajine with lid and cook on a very low gas heat for 45 minutes. Do not stir or lift the lid during the cooking process.

Serve the Tajine directly to the table and impress your guests with a waft of fragrant steam when it’s time to serve with couscous and harissa.

Moroccan dishes at [eatingclub] vancouver:
Moroccan Lamb Skewers with Figs & Red Onions
Preserved Lemons
Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Food Safari website
Food Safari: Moroccan
Chicken Tagine recipe

[eatingclub] vancouver dishes inspired by Food Safari episodes:
Spanish: Tortilla de Patatas
Thai: Waterfall Beef Salad
Lebanese: Tarator-style Sauce
Thai: Thai Basil Stir-Fry (gka prow)
Lebanese: Lamb Kafta (Turkish: Lamb Kofte)
Indonesian: Belado
Moroccan: Preserved Lemons
Moroccan: Chicken Tagine

Sherli Hon Dory is submitting this to Potato Ho-Down, hosted this month by Where's My Damn Answer.

The round-up should appear sometime after December 17.

Our previous Potato Ho-Down dishes:
Faux Kamote-Que
Duck Fat Potatoes
Potato Cornmeal Foccacia
Potatoes Simmered in Miso
Moroccan Chicken Tagine


  1. This looks delicious! I love using my tagine, it's such a fun way to cook.

  2. Oh my does that sound delicious

  3. What can I say? You make really exotic food!

  4. Aahhh... preserved lemons! What a great dish and I can only imagine how wonderful it smelled and tasted!

  5. This looks wonderful! I really like the combination of flavors.

  6. Hi,
    I don't think I've ever commented but I really like your blog! I have watched this episode of Food Safari and have been wanting to make this tagine for a while. The only ingredient I was missing was preserved lemons! Maybe I'll have to try making them... BTW, I spent 10 days in Morocco and ate tagine every day. Never got sick of it!!

  7. Looks fantastic! I've been wanting to buy a Tagine (the pot) but alas, we have no space. =(

  8. Looks fantastic! I've been meaning to make this dish for a long time with my preserved lemons. I have a clay pot that I was going to try baking in the oven.

  9. Thanks, all!

    We may or may not buy a tagine now. Hmmm.

    Thanks for commenting! I've really been enjoying the Vietnamese recipes on your blog! =)

    Oh, we haven't been to Morocca at all! Lucky girl!

    Wandering Chopsticks:
    We only have our Mario Batali dutch oven. We don't have a single clay pot (those Asiany ones) at all. Hmm... maybe we should buy one too! So fun to get kitchen stuff.

  10. I have been playing with my tagine lately, just trying various things.

    I make something like this but forget the food processor. I just chop it all together and massage into the chicken and let the chicken marinate, preferably overnight but a couple of hours works well.

    Then I put a couple of splashes of olive oil in the bottom of the tagine and load in all the veggies. Spread the chicken on top of the veggies and then I stick pieces of apricot, prune, raising or figs in and around the chicken. I then stick pieces of the preserved lemons aroudn also. Put the top on, stick it on a heat diffuser and put the temp to a low simmer and let it go for about an hour. Then I sprinkle parsley, cilantro and, sometimes, grape tomatoes and put the lid back on and simmer about 20-30 minutes. Then serve.

    I also sometimes put some broccoli in with the veggies or some cauliflower or eggplant or squash as well. Whatever floats your boat. It is all good and the spices really add a ton of flavor to everything. Slightly warm, slightly sweet, slightly spicy and altogether delicious. Buying a cheap clay tagine is one of my best purchases. It cost me about $35 shipped to my home, I soaked it for several hours, then heated it in the oven for an hour or so at about 300F. No problems with it whatsoever. The one thing to watch out for is you need very very very little liquid. For that whole mess I cooked up I used a little less than 1/2 cup of chicken broth and that was almost too much.

  11. Question from US: What is a size 10 or 12 chicken? Does that correspond to weight or age?

  12. dick:
    Thanks for sharing! Yeah, I think we would need to adjust how we cook "stews" if we use a proper tagine. I didn't realize about that needing-little-liquid aspect of it. Definitely something to keep in mind.

    Ah, the marinade: I can put anything in that marinade and be happy! =)

    I copied the recipe from the Food Safari site (Australian), but for us, about a 3-lb chicken.


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