Morocco is magical!
From the cities, to the open markets, to the people, the traditions, the music and best of all the FOOD! Amazing, melt in your mouth tagines with many layers of flavour are signature traits of Moroccan cuisine. The complexity and depths to which the Moroccan flavours go are unmatched! You bite into the food and immediately get a sense of “Oh! This is so good!” From the spicy, sweet, to sour hints all mixed in a rich and thickened sauce… These people know good food.
The first time I tried this tagine of chicken, preserved lemons and green olives, I found the flavours very distinct. A sharp, fresh and rich combination that is so out there and so unique. The distinct mixture of lemon, tangy, salty olives in a hint of saffron… is art! Nothing short of the art music produces or a brush stroke on canvas for that matter… it is flavour art!
When I came to make this recipe for the first time, I just went and bought preserved lemons from the supermarket, oblivious to the quality. I simply asked for Moroccan preserved lemons. Thing is, the distinctive flavour of this dish is really coming from these lemons. If the initial flavour of the preserved lemons is not that good, the whole dish will be ‘not that good’. Therefore, I totally recommend you make your own preserved lemons (link at the end), otherwise, make sure to buy the best quality out there. Don’t be afraid to ask for a taster!
A final note on flavour enhancement,
I felt that the overall dish lacked something! My hubby, who is my most trusted flavour consultant and an acclaimed cook himself, suggested that a bite from some toasted nuts will add to the texture and flavour, as well as a sprinkle of fried onions, which will counteract the acidity and balance the overall flavour. Right enough, the addition of those totally transformed this dish into a wholesome, well rounded texture and flavour. Feel free to add these and see for yourself. Yet for the purist this recipe is what the original recipe suggests, without any added extras. This dish is best prepared with chicken on the bone with skin intact.
Tagine is essentially a dish that is prepared in the tagine pot. This pot enables the accumulation of steam which slowly cooks tagines to perfection. The end result is always a super moist, complexly flavoured dish. I have cooked this in a regular saucepan to see how it comes out. For those who do not own a tagine pot, this works! However the flavours are not the same in a regular pot, they do not get to mature as they do in that conical earthenware tagine. The tagine pot always produces more intense flavours, a more tender meats and a more thickened sauces that are wholesome in flavour. Therefore, cook this in a tagine pot, and make the investment as you will love cooking tagines! Many recipes included below among others on this website…
Turn on the music in the video below, and make this tagine… and listen to, smell and taste Morocco…