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Monday, March 4, 2024

Chicken Tajine with Preserved Lemons and Olives

One of the easiest recipes with the widest appeal, that I have so far found, is Chicken and Olive Tajine. This is often made with french fries on top but I add a twist sometimes by making zucchini fries. This is very simple and probably the most widely known Moroccan tajine recipe.

If I’m totally honest after our first trip to Morocco in 2004, I couldn’t even look at this tajine for YEARS! We ate it almost every day for nearly two weeks. You will find it on EVERY menu in the country; though you’ll also find varying levels of quality.

In Morocco, it’s also known as chicken mkalli. The key component to this dish is preserved lemons. Yes, you arguably can make this with just lemon juice however the preserved lemons are what makes this dish special.

If you don’t have any preserved lemons you have two options. You can make them yourself, but know that they take a few weeks to be ready to use. Or, you can buy them. I recommend Mina preserved lemons as they’re authentic and work well.

You can make this recipe using a clay tajine, in a pressure cooker, or even a slow cooker but the results will be different for each of the cooking techniques.

Classic Chicken and Olive Tajine Recipe


Classic Chicken and Olive Tajine Recipe

prep time: 10 MINUTES
cook time: 45 MINUTES
total time: 55 MINUTES

This classic Moroccan tajine recipe is made using a pressure cooker vs. a traditional clay pot. It’s fairly easy to make though does require preserved lemons – they’re the crux of the dish.

  • 1 pound chicken (whichever pieces your family likes)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 5-8 threads of saffron crushed
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cilantro – fresh or dried
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1/2 preserved lemon
  • a handful of green olives – add more or less depending on your preferences
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon (i add this for extra flavor)
  • enough water to cover the chicken


Pour vegetable oil into the bottom of the pressure cooker and add onion. Saute until onions are translucent and add cilantro.

Add chicken and sear on all sides. Add remaining spices and lemon. Top with approx. 4 cups of water, just enough to cover the chicken.

Cover the pressure cooker and allow it to cook for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and open pressure cooker, checking the chicken to ensure it’s cooked through. It should be tender and fall off the bone.

In the remaining liquid add the olives and continue cooking with the cover removed until liquid reduces to a thicker sauce.


You can serve at this time either alone or topped with french fries. Eat with a crusty bread.

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