Our Moroccan Chicken not only looks super inviting, but it’s loaded with so many layers of flavors. Chicken Tagine is a traditional staple of Moroccan cuisine, known for its slow-cooked, tender chicken infused with a rich blend of spices and aromatic herbs.
Our Beef Tagine is a super popular recipe on GypsyPlate, and now we are very excited to present our version of Chicken Tagine with olives and preserved lemons along with dried fruits.
Moroccan food is one of favorites to try in our international travels, because it’s readily available in big cities like London and Barcelona. Unfortunately, we can’t find much of this amazing Northern African food in the part of the world where we live. So the next best thing is to just cook all this good food in your own kitchen.
We are super satisfied with how this Chicken Tagine turned out when we introduced it to one of of dear friends during a holiday get together.
This recipe mimics the traditional method of slow cooking in a tagine, a unique North African cooking vessel that imparts a distinct depth and complexity to the dish.
Marinated in earthy Moroccan spices like cinnamon, cumin, coriander, turmeric and paprika, and enhanced with fresh herbs, garlic, and preserved lemon, the chicken is then cooked with onions, tomatoes, sweet dried fruits, and olives. The result is a harmonious blend of sweet and savory notes, embodying the warm and inviting flavors of Moroccan culinary tradition.
Why this Recipe is a Super Hit
- Flavorful Spices: The use of varied Moroccan spices gives the dish a rich and aromatic flavor profile that is both unique and inviting.
- Tender Chicken: Slow cooking in a tagine pot or any other earthen ware pot (you can use a regular dutch oven in its absence) ensures the chicken is exceptionally tender and absorbs all the flavors from the spices and other ingredients.
- Sweet and Savory Balance: The combination of savory chicken with sweet elements like apricots and prunes creates a wonderful balance of flavors.
- Versatility: It can be adapted to include different vegetables, fruits, and spice levels, catering to various tastes and dietary preferences.
- Cultural Experience: Chicken Tagine offers a taste of Moroccan cuisine, providing a cultural experience as well as a culinary one.
- One-Pot Cooking: The convenience of preparing everything in one pot makes it easy to clean up after.
- Comforting and Satisfying: The rich, hearty nature of the dish makes it comforting and satisfying, perfect for family meals or special occasions.
What is Chicken Tagine?
Chicken Tagine is a classic dish from Moroccan cuisine, known for its unique combination of flavors and the traditional method of cooking in a tagine pot. A tagine is both the name of the dish and the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. This pot features a distinctive conical lid that helps circulate steam and infuses the food with deep, complex flavors.
The Berber people of North Africa are often credited with the creation of the tagine. They used the pots made from the local clay to slow-cook their food over open fires or charcoal.
The introduction of spices like cinnamon, saffron, and ginger by the Arabs and Moors added complexity to the flavors of traditional tagine dishes. Over time, the tagine evolved into a culinary symbol of Morocco, reflecting a blend of various cultural influences, including Berber, Arab, Moorish, and Mediterranean.
During the French colonial period in Morocco, the tagine was further popularized and adapted, blending local traditions with European culinary techniques. In recent years, Moroccan cuisine, and particularly the tagine, has gained international recognition for its unique flavors and cooking techniques.
Tagine is traditionally prepared with a combination of meats, poultry, or fish, vegetables, fruits, and a rich blend of spices. Chicken tagine often includes ingredients like olives, lemons, and dried fruits, creating a savory dish with hints of sweetness and tanginess.
For Chicken Marination:
- Chicken Thighs: We prefer them for their juiciness and rich flavor. Bone-in thighs with the skin removed are best for this recipe. You can also use whole chicken cut into pieces, or boneless chicken thighs.
- Moroccan Spices: Blend of cinnamon, cumin, ginger, coriander, black pepper, paprika, and turmeric.
- Fresh Herbs (Cilantro and Parsley): Add a bright, fresh taste.
- Garlic: Essential for depth and a pungent, earthy flavor.
- Honey: Balances the spices with its natural sweetness.
- Saffron Threads (optional): Adds a beautiful color.
- Preserved Lemon Pulp: Adds a unique, tangy citrus flavor.
- Olive Oil: Serves as a base for the marinade, adding moisture and helping to infuse the flavors into the chicken.
For Chicken Tagine:
- Olive Oil: Used for sautéing the onions..
- Onion: Foundation for savory depth. Becomes sweet and aromatic upon cooking.
- Garlic: I know it’s already in the marinade, but a little extra doesn’t hurt!
- Tomato: Offers a sweet and acidic quality, contributing to the sauce’s body.
- Apricots: They add a natural, fruity sweetness, complementing the savory elements.
- Prunes: Provide a balance of sweet and tart flavors.
- Preserved Lemon Rind: Brings a concentrated burst of lemony tang.
- Green Olives: Add a salty, briny dimension, contrasting with the dish’s sweet components.
Chicken Tagine Recipe
1. Marinate Chicken: Combine chicken thighs with Moroccan spices, fresh herbs, garlic, honey, optional saffron, preserved lemon pulp, and olive oil. Marinate for 2 to 6 hours in the refrigerator.
2. Sauté Onions and Garlic: In a pan, heat olive oil and sauté sliced onions with a pinch of salt until soft. Add sliced garlic and cook for a minute.
3. Start the Chicken: Place the marinated chicken in a single layer over the onions.
Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, flip and cook for another 5 minutes.
4. Add Tomatoes and Fruits: Arrange tomato slices over the chicken. Place apricots, prunes, preserved lemon rind, and olives around the chicken. Optionally add water to remaining marinade and pour into the pan. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
6. Finish the Dish: Flip the chicken over. Continue cooking covered for 30-35 minutes, until the chicken is tender. Flip the chicken a few more times while cooking. Taste and adjust salt (you may not need any due to the saltiness from preserved lemons).
Chicken Tagine pairs wonderfully with a variety of side dishes that complement its rich and aromatic flavors. Here are some great options:
Couscous: Traditional and light, couscous absorbs the flavors of the tagine sauce beautifully. We have great Moroccan Couscous recipe as a side.
Bread: Moroccan flatbread or crusty bread is perfect for scooping up the sauce and chicken.
Rice: A simple bed of white rice or Saffron Rice makes a great base for the tagine, especially for soaking up the delicious juices.
Roasted Vegetables: Veggies like carrots, zucchini, or bell peppers, roasted with a touch of olive oil and seasoning, go great with our tagine.
Green Salad: A fresh, simple salad with a lemony dressing can balance the richness of the tagine.
1. Add Vegetables: To enhance Chicken Tagine with vegetables, add sliced carrots and potatoes with the chicken for tenderness, along with bell peppers and zucchini partway through for a bit of crunch. You can also add chickpeas, eggplant, butternut squash, green beans, and cauliflower, adjusting cooking times as needed for each vegetable’s texture.
2. Different Proteins: Use lamb, beef, or fish instead of chicken for a different flavor profile.
4. Fruit Variations: Swap apricots and prunes with other dried or fresh fruits like raisins, figs, or dates for a different sweet element.
5. Nut Additions: Include almonds or pine nuts for a crunchy texture and nutty flavor.
6. Herb Varieties: Experiment with different herbs like mint, thyme, or rosemary for a new aromatic dimension.
- Marinate Longer: If time allows, marinate the chicken for longer to enhance the flavors.
- Use Quality Spices: Fresh, high-quality spices make a significant difference in flavor.
- Balance Sweet and Savory: Adjust the amount of fruits like apricots and prunes to achieve your preferred balance of sweet and savory.
- Low and Slow Cooking: Cook the tagine on a low heat for a longer time to allow flavors to meld and chicken to become tender.
- Check Liquid Levels: Ensure there’s enough liquid during cooking to prevent burning and to create a delicious sauce.
Leftovers and Storing
Like any other stew, chicken tagine is great as leftovers, as all the flavors enhance overnight. Use airtight containers for storage, which helps to retain the dish’s moisture and flavor while also preventing it from absorbing any odors from other foods in your refrigerator or freezer.
For short-term storage, place the airtight containers in the refrigerator, where the Chicken Tagine will keep well for about 3 to 4 days. It can also freeze 2 to 3 months. Remember to label these containers with the storage date to keep track of their shelf life.
When ready to eat, thaw frozen tagine in the refrigerator if necessary, and then reheat it on stove top or in the microwave until it’s hot throughout.
As we wrap up this recipe, we hope you’re inspired to bring a taste of Moroccan cuisine into your own kitchen. It’s a dish that brings together simple ingredients and spices to create something truly remarkable.
Perfect for a family dinner or a special occasion, Chicken Tagine is not just about the flavors it brings to the table, but also about the warmth and comfort it adds to any meal.
Chicken Tagine, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 5-6 chicken thighs, bone-in and skinless
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp ginger powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp paprika
- ⅛ tsp turmeric
- 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 13-15 saffron threads (optional)
- Pulp of 1 preserved lemon (use the rind later)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 large garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 large tomato, sliced
- 6-7 apricots
- 6-7 prunes
- 4-5 slices of preserved lemon rind
- 8-10 green olives
- Toss the chicken with all marinade ingredients. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or up to 6 hours.
- Heat olive oil in a pan. Add sliced onions with a dash of salt and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add garlic cloves and sauté for a minute.
- Arrange chicken pieces over onion in one single layer (don't discard remaining marinade). Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Arrange tomato slices all over the chicken, along with apricots, prunes, lemon rind, and olives all around the chicken. At this point you can add ¼ to ½ cup of water to the marinade and add this to the chicken. Continue cooking covered for 35-40 minutes, flipping the chicken from time to time, until chicken is fall off the bone tender. (If you want saucier chicken tagine, you can add up to 1 cup of water)
- Taste and adjust the salt. (Note that we have not used much salt in this recipe, as preserved lemons are salty, and we used one good sized lemon)
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 467Total Fat 29gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 21gCholesterol 166mgSodium 637mgCarbohydrates 25gFiber 5gSugar 17gProtein 33g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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