Saturday, 12 February 2011

Chicken and Lentil Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives

I went to my sisters a few weekends ago and she made a delicious lamb tagine for Sunday lunch. I came home and decided that I wanted to have a go at making a tagine too. I went with chicken and lentil and it was delicious and surprisingly really easy to make. I also have some lamb casseroling meat in the freezer so I'm hoping to make a lamb and artichoke one sometime soon.

I served it with couscous with tomatoes, courgette and pine nuts.

Chicken and lentil tagine with preserved lemons and olives (adapted from the Hairy Bikers)
(Serves 6)

½ tsp saffron threads, crushed
250ml/9fl oz chicken stock, warmed
3 tbsp olive oil
3 onions, chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 free-range chicken, jointed
250g red lentils
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
6 small preserved lemons, quartered, or 2 larger ones, chopped
100g/3½oz mixed olives (green is traditional)
good handful coriander leaves, chopped
good handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

Add the saffron threads to the stock to infuse.

Meanwhile, in a tagine or heavy-bottomed lidded casserole, heat the olive oil and fry the onions until soft. Add the ginger, cumin and garlic and cook gently for a couple of minutes

Add the chicken and lentils and stir to coat with the onion and spices. Sprinkle in the crushed peppercorns and add the lemons and saffron-infused stock.

Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook on a very gentle heat for about one hour, or until the chicken is falling apart.

Add the olives and continue to simmer for another ten minutes. Add the chopped coriander and parsley just before serving

Serve with potatoes, crusty bread or rice and a green salad.


  1. That sounds delicious!

  2. Nic, you've inspired me. I'm giving this a try for tonight. I don't have all of your ingredients (namely, the saffron and preserved lemons) so I substituted what was labeled saffron in our spice cupboard but which I think is tumeric and I zested the peel of a Meyer lemon. I've ordered preserved lemons from an online store and I'll try the recipe again with them sometime. And I checked other tagine recipes and found that it was okay to use a slow-cooker, so that's what I'm using. I'll let you know how it turns out.

  3. Tim, how did it go? It's really lovely to hear your comments, I have so much going on right now that I don't get enough time to blog or answer comments! But I shall try and be better :)

  4. Hi Nic,
    I tried it twice. It was nice with the lemon zest, but it was amazing once I located preserved lemons (online) and cooked it again. In the slow-cooker I found that the red lentils turned into dal if I added them at the beginning with the chicken, so the second time I added them halfway through the cooking time. That worked well and we got to smell the aromas all day while it cooked.

    I looked online for recipes for preserved lemons, and they're really easy to make. So in addition to the jar of lemons I purchased I now have a larger jar of lemons I'm preserving. I've always loved North African cooking but never knew much about it. I think I'll start looking for recipes now.

  5. The Arab market and deli where I shop sells a tajeen which is eggplant, tomato, potato and spices. I finally connected the dots and realized that their tajeen was the same word as the Moroccan tagine. The family that owns the market is Libyan and explained that the word is actually the name of the vessel you cook in. So the makeup of a tagine/tajeen changes as you move across North Africa but it's still called the same thing. The way people around the world cook is really interesting. In the US there is an area of folklore called foodways, which I guess this is part of. In my next lifetime I think I'll study that :-)