Chicken Tagine with olives and homemade preserved lemons

So close to December autumn has truly arrived in all its beauty and darkness. It’s the perfect time to make  delicious and warming stews and casseroles. They are especially good after a long walk on a cold sunny day.  Chicken Tagine with preserved lemons and olives is a special kind of stew, it is unlike anything you will have ever tasted before, its deeply rich flavours will have you and your guests most definitely go for a second serving.

This dish does not only burst with flavours but is a truly soothing dish to support gut health, made with pro-biotic preserved lemons, it is also rich in health promoting spices and pre-biotic vegetables, such as onions, garlic, cumin, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon. The protein from the chicken and chickpeas is deeply nourishing and helps you to keep satiated for longer.

The uniqueness in flavour is brought by the preserved lemons, you can get them in specialist delis or they can easily be made at home. If you read my lemon post a few weeks ago, you might have already gone ahead and made some.  In any case all you need is 5-6 organic unwaxed lemons, sea salt and an optional selection of spices. I used cinnamon, star anise, dried red chilis and bay leaves. The lemons take about 4 weeks until they are ready, but it is well worth the wait. Please click here for the instructions on how to make them.

Chicken Tagine with Olives and  preserved Lemons – serves 3-4

Ingredients: (ideally organic)
1/2 tsp saffron threads
500-600ml chicken stock
2 tbsp (30g) coconut oil or ghee
4 shallots , roughly chopped
1 thumb of fresh ginger, sliced
2 small garlic cloves, crushed and finely sliced
1 chicken leg and two wings (150g) per person
4 dried apricots (unsulfured)
2 small preserved lemon, quartered and cut into thin strips
60-80g green pitted olives  – approximately 8 per person
400g chickpeas, freshly cooked or tinned
1-2 tbsp of lemon juice to taste

Spice mix
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
2-3 cloves crushed
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp peppercorns crushed ( approx 6 corns)
1/2 freshly ground white pepper

Roast vegetables
3-4 medium sized carrots or 2 sweet potatoes
1-2 large red onions
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp of ground ginger
1/2 tsp of turmeric
1 (15g) tbsp coconut oil or olive oi

1 bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 bunch of flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped


1. Prepare the stock, spice mix, shallots, garlic and ginger, then heat the oil in a tagine or casserole dish, add the shallots and saute until soft.

2. Next add garlic, ginger and spices, keep stirring for about 1 minute, then add the chicken. Mix with the shallot, garlic, ginger and spice mix before adding the stock, saffron, whole dried apricots and chopped lemons. The stock should just about cover the chicken, so add more if needed.

3. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer tightly covered for about 60-75 minutes or until the chicken falls off the bone.

4. Add the olives and cooked chickpeas for the last 10 minutes of the cooking process and season to taste with some lemon juice. Because the preserved lemons are already enriched with plenty of salt, there should be no need for extra salt.

5. Whilst the tagine is cooking away, prepare the vegetables for roasting.  Pre-heat the oven at 180C . Peel the sweet potatoes or carrots, cut into cubes, peel the red onions and roughly cut into similar sized chunks.

6. Place in a baking dish, add coconut oil, cinnamon , turmeric and ginger and mix until well covered.

7. Bake in the oven for about 30 -40 minutes, lowering the temperature to about 150C. For an even bake  keep turning the vegetables now and then.

8.Serve the chicken tagine and baked vegetables in a deep dish, with a handful of freshly chopped parsley and coriander to garnish.

This dish tastes even better the next day, if there is any left over, which is rather rare :). Cooking it the night before therefore makes it the perfect option for a stress free dinner party or for your lunch jar to take to work.