This is a more complicated recipe, but it is worth the effort. It has the authentic taste.
Chicken Tajine with preserved lemon and olives
Morocco’s second most popular dish after couscous and considered to be the national dish.
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1/2 preserved lemon, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 onions, chopped
½ birds eye chili
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
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.
- Marinade: 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.
- 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.
How to Make Preserved Lemons
Many Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes call for preserved lemons, lemons that have been pickled in salt and their own juices. It’s quite easy to do, though takes at least three weeks before the lemons are ready to use.
8-10 Meyer lemons, scrubbed very clean, ordinary lemons will work too
1/2 cup kosher salt, more if needed
Extra fresh squeezed lemon juice, if needed
Sterilized quart canning jar
1 Place 2 Tbsp of salt in the bottom of a sterilized jar.
2 One by one, prepare the lemons in the following way. Cut off any protruding stems from the lemons, and cut 1/4 inch off the tip of each lemon. Cut the lemons as if you were going to cut them in half lengthwise, starting from the tip, but do not cut all the way. Keep the lemon attached at the base. Make another cut in a similar manner, so now the lemon is quartered, but again, attached at the base.
3 Pry the lemons open and generously sprinkle salt all over the insides and outsides of the lemons.
4 Pack the lemons in the jar, squishing them down so that juice is extracted and the lemon juice rises to the top of the jar. Fill up the jar with lemons, make sure the top is covered with lemon juice. Add more fresh squeezed lemon juice if necessary. Top with a couple tablespoons of salt.
5 Seal the jar and let sit at room temperature for a couple days. Turn the jar upside down occasionally. Put in refrigerator and let sit, again turning upside down occasionally, for at least 3 weeks, until lemon rinds soften.
6 To use, remove a lemon from the jar and rinse thoroughly in water to remove salt. Discard seeds before using. Discard the pulp before using, if desired.
7 Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.
You can add spices to the lemons for preserving - cloves, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, bay leaf.
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
4 large red bell peppers
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
Stir coriander and caraway in small skillet over medium-high heat until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Transfer to processor. Cook garlic in same skillet, covered, over medium-low heat until tender, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool. Peel garlic; add to processor.
Char bell peppers over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop peppers; add peppers, oil, sugar, and crushed red pepper to processor. Puree. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Makes about 2 2/3 cups.