Legendary Dishes | Tajine de Poulet à la Marocaine (aromatic chicken in a tagine)


There is a strong French influence in this popular Arabic dish. Tomatoes are added to the cooking medium in some versions, and chickpeas cooked in the chicken will add bulk. The traditional dish is spicy and tangy with a strong garlic flavour, whether the influence is Arabic or French. if using a tagine or slow cooker omit the water.


  • 1.5 kg chicken, jointed into 10 pieces
  • 4 lemons, juiced
  • 4 oranges, juiced
  • 250 g onions
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 chilli pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Finish (Saucepan Version)

  • 1 litre water or sufficient water to just cover the pieces of chicken
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 60 g candied lemon with salt
  • 30 g smen (clarified butter)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1 tsp turmeric mixed into a paste with 2 tsp water
  • 1 tsp ginger mixed into a paste with 2 tsp water
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • Salt, large pinch
  • 12 saffron pistils


  • 10 black pitted olives
  • 10 green pitted olives
  • 4 sprigs cilantro / parsley
  • 4 sprigs thyme

In a compact container large enough to hold the chicken pieces, the garlic and onion, add sufficient juice to just cover the ingredients plus the chilli pepper, cumin seeds and seasonings. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Place the chicken pieces with all the marinade in a saucepan, slow cooker or tagine, add the ginger mocha, oil, paprika, red chillies, smen, turmeric mocha and half of the saffron.

Cook for 90 minutes over a medium heat in the saucepan, 6 hours in the slow cooker at the lowest setting and one hour in the tagine.

Drain the liquid into a saucepan, add the candied lemon, cilantro and remaining saffron, reduce to sauce consistency.

Serve the chicken with the sauce accompanied by rice. Garnish with olives and cilantro or parsley and thyme.