claudia roden's tagine of chicken with preserved lemon and green olives (tagine djaj bi zaytoun wal hamid)

tagine of chicken with preserved lemons, green olives, coriander and parsley
There is something about the intensely savoury and citrusy smell you get when you lift the lid on a large saucepan of chicken stew infused with preserved lemons, Middle Eastern spices and fresh coriander that lifts my spirits in a way that nothing else can. It is both heady and exhilarating. 

While this is another wonderful seasonally warming dish (and a lovely taste of the sun in the depths of winter), it is one that makes a regular appearance at my table, all year around.

claudia roden's tagine of chicken with preserved lemon and green olives
(tagine djaj bi zaytoun wal hamid)
(adapted from Arabesque A taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon)
Serves 4
Skill level: Easy

1 x large chicken, jointed (or about 8-12 x chicken thighs)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 x English onions, very finely chopped or grated
2-3 x garlic cloves, very finely chopped
½ tsp saffron threads
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground turmeric
250ml stock (chicken or vegetable) or water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped (+ extra to serve)
2-3 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped (+ extra to serve)
juice of ½ a lemon
1 x preserved lemon (peel only), cut into quarters
16 x green (or violet) olives


  1. In a large casserole or heavy-based saucepan, heat the olive oil on a medium heat and tip in the onions. Reduce the heat and cook the onions with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes, until they are beginning to soften. Add the garlic, saffron and spices. Stir to combine well.
  2. Add the chicken pieces and the stock or water. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes (adding more stock or water if it looks as if the stew is drying out).
  3. Add the lemon juice, lemon peel, chopped herbs and rinsed olives. Simmer uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the sauce has thickened.
  4. Check the seasoning (you may not need any more salt).
  5. Sprinkle over a little of the remaining chopped herbs and serve with couscous (fat or otherwise!)  or rice and vermicelli (which one of my friends recently described as a revelation!)


  • If the olives are too salty, soak them in 2 changes of water for about 30 minutes for each change.
  • If you like your flavours with a little extra punch, add a half teaspoon of cumin and some chilli powder.

And since this wonderful traditional tagine is full of fragrant coriander and parsley, I am entering this into Karen at Lavender and Lovage's and Vanesther at Bangers and Mash. Herbs on Saturday blog challenge, which this month is hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage.

Can't wait to see what everyone else has come up and some fabulous inspiration as usual!


belleau kitchen said...

I love Claudia Roden's work, her recipes are so failsafe and always a little exotic... they remind me of my Dad's mum who experimented a lot with her Jewish heritage... this dish looks truly beautiful and packed with sunshine!

Jacqueline @Howtobeagourmand said...

Great minds think alike Rachel - was just thinking of making a tagine this week using a Rosemary Shrager recipe using green olives and preserved lemons too! Your dish looks really delicious!

o cozinheiro este algarve said...

What a gorgeous colour- tastes of the sun i´m sure.Never been a great Claudia Roden fan but this looks "something else".My preserved lemons will be ready in two weeks so my next tagine wil definitely be this.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Dom - I couldn't agree more. Unlike so many of the celebrity chefs, her recipes actually work and I love the stories she intermingles with the recipes. I am also fascinated by the whole diaspora thing going on - all those different cultures blending into fabulous food!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Jacqueline - i have a theory about tagines - when it's cold outside you want a taste of sunshine, and when it's hot and sunny you need food that is zesty and fragrant. Which is why we all love tagines!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Rupert Kirby! Not a Claudia Roden fan? That actually really surprises me. I thought she'd be right up your street. Out of curiosity, who is your go-to author for Middle Eastern cookery?

Oh well, I still look forward to seeing what you come up with your preserved lemons!

o cozinheiro este algarve said...

Fie Fie-and Beat me on the bottom with a midlle eastern womans weekly.
I have to admit I have a copy of "The new book of Middle Eastern food" signed by the great lady herself, but I have to admit that it rarely leaves the bookshelf.I promise I will get it out give it a god dusting and post accordingly.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you've posted this, even though I don't need it as it's so firmly in the repertoire. I so agree. Winter, summer, it's a dish we can't do without

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Ha Rupert - channeling Victoria Wood again I see! :) I have to admit I prefer Arabesque to New Middle Eastern because I do like a bit of photography - but the way she weaves a few myths and fables into New Middle Eastern is a delight (for me!)

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Thank you Margaret :) I have to confess that I was also quite pleased with the pic because of the colours! Sometimes I don't post a recipe if I can't get the picture right. Although sometimes I just give up and post anyway!

Anonymous said...

Yup, it was a nice picture: hungry already!

Karen S Booth said...

J'adore tajine et Claudia Roden aussi! C'est formidable Rachel! Merci! Karen