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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Djaj Mqualli (Chicken, olive and preserved lemons tagine) (Moroccan)

This is probably the most common dish (or at least the most common tagine, which is almost the same thing) in the Moroccan cuisine. And once you taste it you'll understand why it's made so often. I know I sing praises to everything you see around here, but this has seriously become my favorite dish. No, not one of my faves, bu my absolute fave. Meaning that, while I also enjoy numerous other dishes, of course, if I would be forced to eat only one thing everyday for the rest of my days but could choose what, I would choose this. No exaggeration.
So finally, if you were wondering what to do with those preserved lemons from way back, here it is. The awesomeness of Moroccan cuisine. 
Recipe source: Crazy mother cooker and Saveur.

Last year: another kind of bun in the oven (and no cooking due to morning sickness). :)

Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 1,200 kg boneless chicken thighs, cut into medium-large pieces
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 pickled lemons (just the skins)
  • juice from 1 fresh lemon 
  • 200 g green olives, stones removed
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley (30 g)
  • 1 big tablespoon butter
  • 1 big tablespoon olive oil
  • 350 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (dried, not fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron (0,2 g)
For the cous cous (optional):
  • 250 g cous cous
  • 30 g butter

First of all gather and prepare all your ingredients. Put the butter and olive oil in the tagine dish (of course, you can make it in a regular pot, but in an authentic tagine it will taste better) and start frying the chicken pieces in it:

Turn them around carefully and fry until they're golden all over. Remove the meat from the pot, leaving the oil in it. Chop up the onion and cut the preserved lemon skins into little pieces. Prepare the spices also:

Put the onion in the pot and all the spices. Fry it gently until translucent.

Add the chicken pieces, add the water (making sure it covers everything), add the preserved lemon bits and bring it to a boil:

Reduce the heat to a simmer, put the lid on and let it cook for 30 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half (if it's evaporating too fast, add more). Meanwhile prepare the lemon juice, olives and finely chop the parsley.

Uncover the dish.

Add the lemon juice and let it simmer for 10 more minutes without a lid. Then, add the olives and parsley:

Stir well, remove from the heat and let it infuse a bit (and cool). Meanwhile, prepare the cous cous (if using) by soaking the pasta in hot water according to package instructions and then mixing it with the butter:

Transfer a bit of cous cous on each plate, then top it with a generous serving of the glorious tagine:

By the way, it smells absolutely great, doesn't it? Dig in! :)


  1. Greeting from Australia! I have not cooked a tagine or any Moroccan cuisine before and this looks great :D

    1. It is maybe a little elaborate but totally worth it. There are some very simple Morrocan dishes too (like the chickpea and tomato soup) or salads which are very easy and fast to make. Maybe you can start with those so you can get a taste of the cuisine and see if you want to continue. Cheers!

  2. This does sound wonderful. I am sure it is wonderful since the flavors go together so well.
    It is good to sing the praises of your food, since you put your heart into making it you want to sing to the world of its goodness and share.
    Blessings my dears, Catherine xo

    1. Thank you dear for the encouraging.

      Indeed we love to share food with the others, in reality when friends can make it over to our place or when we visit our parents, or here, virtually sharing at least the recipe with everyone! :)

      Many thanks for the visit.

  3. Hi, your chicken dish look delicious. Thank you for sharing your interesting recipe.

    I'm following you. Have a nice week ahead. Regards.

    1. Hi, thanks for the compliments and the interest, a lovely week as well!

  4. such a wonderful recipe - great flavors and ingredients - so happy to follow!
    mary x

  5. AHH!!! Olives! I forgot about those delicious things! I haven't had an olive in so long. This has got to change!

    1. Hi Cathleen!

      If you choose this dish to indulge in olives you won't regret it :)

  6. This would definitely be a delicious way to use up the preserved lemons in my fridge! Looks so good~

    1. Oh, if you already have the preserved lemons on hand, there really is nothing better to do with them but this. Just try it and see :)


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