Moroccan chicken comes in many different ways. From a key ingredient in a tagine or in cous cous, there are many ways to give your chicken recipe a real Moroccan feel, and your dinner guests a taste of the real Morocco!

Moroccan cuisine focuses heavily on spices, such as saffron, paprika and ras-al-hanout. However, the most popular chicken dish in Morocco is probably Chicken with Olives and Preserved Lemons, and that's the recipe I'm giving you here, which is my interpretation (and quick-cook version) of my Moroccan Mother In Law's recipe.

You can use fresh lemon, instead of preserved, but preserved lemons do add that authenticity to the real Moroccan dish. You can find them in middle eastern delis and specialty food stores. This dish would, in Morocco, be made in a tagine, and cooked over a charcoal fire. However, if you don't have a tagine, you can use a flameproof ovenproof dish, and the charcoal fire isn't necessary - a stovetop will do. If you do have a tagine, make sure it is suitable for use on a hob - if yours is clay, you can invest in a heat diffuser to be able to use on the hob.

Things You Will Need

6 large chicken thighs
1 finely chopped onion
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons of ground cumin
2 rounded teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon saffron
1/2 tsp ras-al-hanout
3 cloves garlic, crushed
125g (4oz) pitted green olives
1 preserved lemon, chopped
300ml (10floz) chicken stock
Good handful of chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), to garnish

Step 1

Mix the dry spices with half of the olive oil to form a thick paste. Place the chicken in a bowl, and rub the spices into the chicken. Leave to marinate for at least 1-2 hours.

Step 2

In your flameproof dish, heat the remaining oil. Fry the chicken over a medium heat, being sure to scrape all the marinate into the dish. Once the chicken is browning, add the chopped onion. Be careful the spices don't 'catch' on the bottom of the pan - if they start to, remove from the heat, add a little water and return to a lower heat.

Step 3

Add the preserved lemon, olives and stock to the pan, and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. If the chicken is cooked, and the liquid is still very watery, remove the chicken, keep it covered in a warm place and reduce the rest of the stock by boiling fast until you have a thick sauce.

Step 4

Return the chicken to the gravy, sprinkle over the coriander (cilantro) and serve with cous cous or, do as the Moroccans do, and serve with good bread, to mop up the juices.


Tips & Warnings

You must be very careful when frying the chicken and onion not to burn the saffron, as this will give a bitter, unpleasant taste.

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