7 Nov 2015

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons, Black Olives and Zucchini

This is one of my favorite recipes from my cookbooks (published in Icelandic). The dish oozes with exotic umami flavors that one doesn't encounter often in traditional European cuisine, even though it hails from a not-so-distant part of the world. For a long while, I've been intrigued by North-African cooking, especially Moroccan food. And my interest in the country's cuisine was bolstered even further when I got to know my Moroccan neighbor, and her wonderful cooking!

In the summer of 2010, I traveled with my family to France in a camper and explored the regions of Champagne, Burgundy and Alsace. In one of the many markets we visited I happened upon a colorful Moroccan tagine, and I just had to bring it home with me. A tagine is a special earthenware pot typically used in North-Africa to cook dishes which carry the same name. Tagines have a thick base, with a characteristic dome-shaped lid, which is designed to collect steam and then return it to the bottom of the pot. Cooking with a tagine is a bit special: The ingredients are arranged in the pot in layers, the lid placed on top and then transferred to the stove on low heat. The dish is usually slow-cooked for 2 hours, sometimes longer.

This chicken tagine was a collaborative effort between my brother and I. I wanted to use preserved lemons together with tomatoes, zucchini and ground cumin but my brother suggested using chicken broth and olives instead and skip the tomatoes. As I deliberated on the options I saw the aforesaid Moroccan neighbor walk past the window, so I hurried outside and asked her advice regarding the recipe. She gave us a green light but noted that ground cumin is rarely used in chicken tagines, so we decided to skip that also. And the dish turned out great - through the joint effort of many!

If you don't have the specific tagine pot, a regular pot will also do the trick.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons, Black Olives and Zucchini

4-6 servings 

16 chicken drumsticks

1 preserved lemon
700 ml chicken broth
50 g butter
1 yellow onion
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1 zucchini
30 kalamata-olives
Handful of fresh mint




Cut away the cartilage and discard.




The benefit of removing the cartilage is that the skin retracts from the bone which makes the drumstick easier to hold. And of course, I looks much tastier that way!




Place the drumsticks in a bowl along with the olive oil, turmeric, ginger, paprika and coriander. Mix well together and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the fridge and marinate for at least 1-2 hours, but preferably overnight if you have the time.




Chop onion and garlic and fry in the butter until the onion is soft and glistening. Season generously. Then place the drumsticks on top followed by the chicken broth.




Cut the preserved lemons into wedges and arrange them around the chicken. Cut the zucchini into thick slices and add to the tagine along with the kalamata-olives. Scatter a few mint leaves over and season with salt and pepper. Finally, place the lid over, bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 1-2 hours on low heat.




Garnish with fresh mint before serving. There you go, a colorful and robust chicken tagine!


The feast never ends!


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