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.

Kitchen madness

I will introduce the lemons first.

preserved lemons


Preserved lemons


Coarse see salt


Red Chili

Lemon Juice

Olive oil

I had a small jar so I used 3 lemons; you can use as many lemons as you can fit into your own jar. They have to fit in tight.

preserved lemons2

Sterilize your jar by filling it up with cooking water, the top as well, and leave it for a couple of minute. Now empty the jar, don’t burn your hands, and let it dry by itself. Don’t wipe it otherwise you have to start over.

Cut the lemon in from the base down up to 1 cm from the other end. Now turn the lemon around, and turn it around its axe one quarter and make the same cut. You will end up with two deep cuts at both ends of the lemon and they will stay attached like this. Fill the cuts with coarse see salt and cram them in the jar nicely together. Close the jar and put it away for a week.

This is what I’ll be doing next week:

Press the lemons hard to squeeze out as much juice as possible add rosemary, chili and lemon juice of an equal amount of lemons as there are lemons in your jar. End with a thin layer of olive oil, seal the jar and leave it in a cool place for at least 4 weeks, the longer you don’t touch them the more flavorful they’ll become.

You can add other herbs and spices instead of the rosemary and chili like coriander seeds for example.

lemons in a jar