Tajine: How To Make Moroccan Tajine

Tajine, sometimes spelled Tagine, is a Maghrebi dish named after the pot of earthenware in which it is cooked. Tajine began in the early Muslim unification around the time of ruler Harun al-Rashid. In the popular book One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of Arabic-language stories from the ninth century, earliest writings about the concept of cooking in a tajine appear. Also, it talked about the Abbasid Caliphate (which stretched through the ninth century from the Middle East to North Africa and Al-Andalus).

The dish would already be famous among the Arabian Peninsula’s nomadic Bedouin people during early times. The term tajine refers to a dish and the cooking platform. Cooking tagines have been heavily fired and can withstand direct heat or oven cooking at low to medium. Electrical cooktops are advised for this recipe. Most tagines will have a tiny hole for ventilation at the top. A spoon nestled between base and lid serves the same purpose.  

Once the meats and vegetables are placed in the base dish, herbs and spices can be scattered over the food or mixed with a small amount of water into a slurry and poured over the top. Because this form of cooking pulls the natural fluids out of the food, it takes minimal added water. If you add too much, the juices will leak from the shallow foundation.

Moroccan Chicken Tajine

  • Author: Romae Chanice Marquez
  • Recipe Category: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: Moroccan


The whole preparation and cooking time is at least 1 hour and 30 minutes. This recipe will make about four servings. 

Photo credit: @lakasbah_nimes / Instagram.com

Moroccan Chicken Tajine Ingredients

  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large Spanish onions, grated
  • 4 tablespoons canola, grapeseed or olive oil (not a heavy olive oil)
  • 2 preserved lemons, depending on size
  • 10 chicken thighs, with bone and skin
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered saffron or 1/4 teaspoon powdered turmeric and 4 strands saffron
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 cup pitted green Moroccan or Greek olives
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley, about 1/4 cup chopped
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, about 1/4 cup chopped
  • Stems of parsley and cilantro, tied with twine

Moroccan Chicken Tajine Instructions

Step 1: Mix the garlic, cumin, ginger, paprika, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup grated onion, and the oil in a large bowl. Rinse the lemons, and strain the pulp. You can reserve the lemon peel for later use. In a mixing bowl, add the lemon pulp. Stir in the chicken. Mix everything together and place it in a large plastic bag to marinate in the refrigerator overnight. (Twenty-four hours does give the best flavor to the chicken.)

Step 2: Place the chicken and marinade in a large Dutch oven or casserole dish. Add the parsley and cilantro stalks, the rest of the grated onion, the powdered saffron, and 1 1/2 cups water.

Step 3: Next, you can bring it to a boil over high heat. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, partly covered. Remove the cover, stir the chicken, and keep cooking for another 15 minutes or until tender.

Step 4: Move the chicken from a serving platter and cover with foil to keep it warm. Keep the sauce on the burner, until it starts to condense. Next, slice the lemon peel into thin slices, then add the olives, parsley, and cilantro to the sauce. Reduce until it is the desired consistency.

Step 5: Uncover the chicken, and remove the chicken skin. Pour the sauce over chicken and eat.

Moroccan Chicken Tajine Additional Information

  • Per serving, this recipe has 265 calories, 44g of carbohydrates, 4g of fat, 14g of protein. 
  • This recipe will take one and a half hours to prepare, excluding the marinating time.
  • This recipe will make enough to serve four people.
  • The cooking-pot and its conventional broth are prepared principally in the Middle East and North Africa. It is called a tajine in North Africa, whereas it is called a maraq (broth) or a qidra (cooking pot) in the Middle East.

Image source: cuisineaz.com

About Moroccan Chicken Tajine

There are different ways to get the tajine packed. Saman (clarified butter) is used in the original qidra style to lubricate the surface, and a puree of chopped onion is added for aroma and flavor. The ingredients are placed in olive oil to enrich the flavors. 

Tajine (or tagine) is rooted in Berber culinary traditions and is a two-piece portable clay oven consisting of a flat, shallow base dish and a cone-or dome-shaped cover that fits into the base.


The tajine pot provides the home for its namesake dish, a slow-cooked stew of vegetables and a range of regional herbs and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cumin, and paprika. In a traditional tajine dish, nuts and fruits like prunes, apples, quince, preserved lemon, and olives are common ingredients too.

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