Tag Archives: preserved lemons

Chicken Tagine w/ Apricot- Poppy Seed Sauce


I love the rich and complex flavors that accompany Mediterranean food.  The combination of herbs and spices commonly used in this part of the world never cease to surprise me; sometimes it is the most unlikely flavor combinations that are the most palette pleasing.  Moroccan food is especially flavorful but it is these complex flavors that can make a dish seem especially complex and time consuming.  When we were living in the Washington DC area I could fulfill my food cravings by choosing from a variety of good Moroccan restaurants.  Here in Albania I satisfy my hunger by making the food myself.

This dish is inspired by Hassan M’Souli’s Moroccan Modern.  I’ve pieced together a variety of recipes to create a recipe that fulfills my desire for Moroccan food and uses ingredients I have in my pantry (while providing me with the opportunity to use my new tagine).  I’m not going to kid you; this recipe is difficult but it is time consuming.  But plan ahead and spend a lazy weekend day in the kitchen,.  I promise your efforts will be well worth it.


Charmoula Marinade

1/2 tablespoon dried crushed chili

1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika

1/2 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads

1 onion, diced

1 bay leaf, crushed

4 garlic cloves, crushed

3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

1 preserved lemon, sliced thinly

1/4 olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.  Allow to sit for at least 1/2 hour before using.

The charmoula marinade may be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Yields:  1 1/2 cups

Chicken w/Apricot- Poppy Seed Sauce

4 chicken leg quarters

1 1/2 cups Charmoula Marinade

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup water

2 cinnamon sticks

4 whole cloves

1/4 cup poppy seeds

7 tablespoons butter

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Pinch saffron threads

1 pound dried apricots

  • Place the chick in a large casserole dish and coat with the Charmoula marinade.  Use your hands to coat all sides of the chicken pieces.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.  When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the chicken is browned.  Turn and cook an additional 3-4 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the pan and place in the bottom of a tagine or oven-proof dutch oven.
  • Add the water, cinnamon sticks and cloves to the skillet and bring to a boil.
  • In a small skillet, dry toast the poppy seeds for about 30 seconds to toast them lightly.  Add to the water mixture.
  • Reduce the heat in the skillet to medium and add the butter, sugar, ground cinnamon, and saffron threads.  Stir to combine.
  • When the butter has melted add in the apricots and stir to coat.
  • Pour the entire mixture over the chicken in the tagine.
  • Cover the tagine and place on the lowest rack in a cold oven.
  • Turn the oven on to 325 degrees and roast until the chicken is cooked through, 30-45 minutes.

Serve over couscous or risotto.

Serves 4

Djaj Mqualli (Chicken, Lemon, & Olive Tagine)


I came across this recipe from Saveur Magazine while on my weekly quest for new recipes.  With olives, lemons, and saffron this recipe combines some of my favorite flavors.  As an added bonus, I cured the green olives myself and made the preserved lemons earlier this winter so I had jars of them readily available.  If you don’t have the time or desire to make them yourself, you can buy these items in your local grocery store.  (Unless you are in Albania, then you must preserve your own lemons but with advance planning, it really is easy to do).

There is minimal hands on time for this dish which makes it a deceptively easy dish to serve for guests.  Served with a side dish of rice, flatbread, and Moroccan carrot salad, you have colorful and complete dinner that is sure to please.  Even Sidney, the boy who won’t eat chicken, ate this declaring it “yummy.”  And I agree, it is pretty tasty.


3 tbsp. olive oil
6 whole chicken legs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large yellow onions, sliced
2 tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground white pepper
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. crushed saffron threads
1½ cups chicken stock
6 oz. green olives, cracked
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
2 tsp. finely chopped cilantro
2 jarred preserved lemons, seeded and cut into slices or chunks

  • Heat oven to 350°. Heat oil in an 8–qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper; add to pot and cook, turning, until browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  • Add onions to pot; cook until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add spices; cook for 2 minutes. Return chicken to pot with stock; boil.
  • Bake chicken, covered, until tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
  • Stir in olives, butter, parsley, cilantro, and lemons into pot, and cook for 6 minutes.

Serve with rice or flatbread

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