This recipe is based on the recipes I learnt to make from locals while on my travels around Morocco. It is essentially a combination and you can be as adventurous as you like. Lamb, beef, seafood, even game all work well in a tajine, and you don’t need a tajine pot to cook it (although that does add to the authenticity if you are throwing a dinner party!)
In London preserved lemons are available in Middle Eastern markets which are commonplace in East London. If viewing this from abroad then you can try Whole Foods or a good health food store. However, I find fresh lemons just as good: only use half the flesh and cook all of the rind- then reserve one piece of rind for the ‘hand’ (see below).
MOROCCAN CHICKEN TAGINE
½ tsp saffron threads
½ tsp salt
1 preserved lemon (or fresh lemon if you wish)
1 clove garlic (or more if you prefer)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cracked black pepper
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
1 tomato, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp ghee or butter (see below for ghee instructions)
4 whole chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup water
½ cup pitted green olives (not essential, if you hate olives you can leave them out but they really do add to the flavour!)
1 tsbp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro if you are American!)
1tbsp chopped fresh parsley
– In a bowl, crush the saffron threads and sea salt together. Remove the lemon from the rind and save one sliver of the rind for the garnish.
– If using preserved lemon then chop the lemon flesh coarsely and add the flesh and a large chunk of lemon rind to the saffron-salt combo with the garlic, turmeric, ginger, pepper, onion, tomato and ghee/ butter. Toss well.
– (Optional) Sprinkle this mix over chicken legs on both sides. Cover and refrigerate for 30 mins to half a day (depending on how long you have)
– In a tagine or large flameproff casserole dish heat the oil. Add chicken legs and 2 tbsp of the water. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, turning half way through cooking.
– Add remaining water to the pan and turn the legs skin side down. Set the lid slightly askew and cook the chicken for a further 35 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. (Total cooking time 45 mins approx.). Remove lemon rind and disgard.
– Turn chicken skin-side up and cut between the leg and drumsticks
– Take the remaining lemon rind and cut 4 slits 3/4 s the way up- resembling a Fatima hand. Sprinkle the dish with olives, parsley and coriander and garnish with the lemon ‘hand’.
– Serve with cous cous or Quinoa. Serves 4.
1 kg unsalted white butter
2 bay leaves
Pinch of salt
– Heat a deep, heavy-bottomed pan on a medium flame and add the butter and bayleaves. Simmer and allow to melt and then cook.
– When a froth or scum appears on the surface of the butter, spook it off and disgard. Keep cooking until all the scum has risen and been removed.
– Allow to cool, remove bay leaves and strain/ filter the ghee- it will look a pale gold in colour
– Add a pinch of salt and mix well. This will give the ghee a grainy texture when solid.
Store unrefrigerated for 4-6 months. Refrigerated lasts even longer.