Chicken Tajine with Green Olives and Preserved Lemons

Some time ago I did a preserved lemon experiment and I thought it was about time to test the result. Since I actually only know this ingredient from the traditional chicken with green olives and preserved lemon tajine, I thought this was a good recipe to start with. It’s a delicious combination, no wonder it’s a classic. Other recipes with preserved lemons are most welcome!

As always with tajine recipes, time is an important factor since it is a slow cooking dish. If you don’t have a tajine, you can make it in a heavy based pot with lid, or in a deep oven dish with cover.  Put your tajine in water one hour before you use it. Heat it slowly on your lowest fire (preferably with a flame dispenser) and never let it on the fire without any liquid in it because than it will burst. So in other words, be sweet to your tajine and it will give you some nice dishes in return.

For two persons (I have a small tajine so I can only fit in two chicken legs)

2 chicken legs

1 onion

2 minced garlic cloves

Pinch of saffron

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ginger powder

2 teaspoons paprika

½ tablespoon coriander powder

½ tablespoon ground cumin

½ preserved lemon, (peel cut into dices)

Handful of green olives without pit

small hand chopped fresh cilantro

small hand chopped fresh parsley

Prepare the tajine and warm a splash of olive oil in it. Cut the onion in half rings and bake them in the tajine until soft, add the garlic and bake for another minute. Bake the chicken until it has a nice and brown crispy skin. If you have a small tajine like me you might prefer to do this in a separate skillet, otherwise use your tajine. To get a crispy chicken skin, put oil in the skillet and heat it up well, bake the chicken on high fire, the inside does not have to be done; we’re just creating a tasty skin.

Add the chicken to the tajine and sprinkle the spices on top. Add water almost to the edge and place the top on the base.

Let it simmer on your lowest fire for at least an hour and a half but preferably longer. Ten minutes before serving, add the lemon and the olives. Serve with the fresh parsley and cilantro on top.

Lemon Chicken

Today I read about brining for the first time. This is a method to make your poultry nice and soft by soaking it in water with salt (and sugar, optional) for at least two hours to overnight. It makes the meat soft like with marinating and the salt increases the way the meat keeps its moisture. I never heard about it before but since it was just me and my boyfriend this night, I thought I could risk the experiment. Worst case we would eat a salty and chewy chicken but there were plenty of other things to eat beside chicken because meat or chicken is never the main component of my dinners. I would not write this recipe of course if it was not a success.

I have been planning to make lemon chicken for half a year already and I can’t believe I had never done it before. I came to the idea when I was living in Melbourne, I found a nice recipe in a cooking book and I add it to my to try list; unfortunately I lost it during travelling and with that the recipe crawled silently down the list. Now recently I am in such a lemony mood, I made lemon cake, preserved lemons, lemon cheesecake, lemonade, and I remembered the old recipe. I found another recipe to replace the lost one on a website called la tartine gourmande, I did not really keep to the recipe or quantities and added the onion.


2 cups cold water

4 tablespoons of salt

1 tablespoon fine sugar

Mix the water, sugar and salt. Put the chicken legs in the salty sweet water and leave it in the fridge for at least two hours.

Lemon Chicken

2 brined chicken legs

Juice of 1 lemon

4 lemon slices

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoons dried sage

1 small red onion

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Cut the red onion in half rings.

Mix in a baking dish the oil, lemon, honey, sage and red onion.

Take the chicken out of the water and shake of most of the water. Cover the chicken in the marinade and put the lemon slices on top. After half an hour put the lemon slices next to the chicken so the skin can get crisp, bake for 1 hour in total.

The skin should be golden brown and crisp when done.

And how stupid, I did not think about making a picture of these beautiful legs, hopefully next time I can make up for that.