Tagine of chicken and olives with preserved lemons

Serves five


1.5kg whole chicken
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
125g stoned green olives
1.5 preserved lemons cut into strips
50g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin (optional)
1 tsp turmeric (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon (or 3 cinnamon sticks)
Pinch of saffron threads
500ml water
3 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
3 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


Mix the garlic, some black pepper and a spoonful of the oil. Rub the chicken with the mixture and set aside for a few hours, or overnight.

Blanch the olives three times by plunging them into boiling water. Leave them to boil for 30 seconds then rinse under running water. Repeat this twice more, changing the boiling water each time, then drain the olives and set aside.

Remove and discard the flesh and pips from the preserved lemons, cut into large slices and set aside.

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy saucepan, add the onion and fry gently, stirring frequently until softened and translucent. Add the ginger, saffron, cinammon, salt, pepper, cumin and turmeric, if using and stir adding the water until all spices are mixed in thoroughly. Add the chicken and turn it over to coat it with the sauce. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover the pan and leave to simmer gently for about one hour, turning the chicken over several times so that all sides soak up the sauce. It may be necessary to add a little hot water during the cooking if the juices run dry.

Add the preserved lemons, coriander and parsley, stir, cover and cook for 15 more minutes. If the sauce is too runny once the chicken is cooked, remove the chicken and set aside in a warmed tagine dish, bring sauce to boil, stirring continuously until thickened.

Arrange the preserved lemon strips and olives on top of the chicken, stir the sauce and quickly pour it over the chicken. Cover the tagine dish and serve straight away, very hot.