Moroccan Chicken With Lemon and Olives

The rich, multilayered history of Jewish cooking provides a powerful way to connect to Jewish culture and practice. At the same time, cooking is a mindful, calming sensory activity. Best of all, at the end we are rewarded with a delicious meal! 

This dish is inspired by a recipe from the legendary Claudia Roden, from her cookbook Arabesque. The deep flavors make it a perfect choice for Passover or enjoy year-round.

Tagine of Chicken With Lemon and Olives  (Tagine Djaj Bi Zaytoun Wal Hamid)


1 large chicken, cut up (or about 8-12 chicken thighs)

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 onions, very finely chopped or grated

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed or very finely chopped

½ tsp saffron threads (crushed or saffron powder)

1 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground turmeric

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (or water)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbsp fresh coriander or cilantro, finely chopped

3 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

½ lemon, juiced

1 preserved lemon (peel only), cut into quarters (or ½-1 whole fresh lemon, scrubbed and sliced into thick slices)

16 green or violet olives (If too salty, soak in water for up to an hour)


  1. In a large casserole or heavy-heavy-bottomed pan that can hold all the chicken pieces in one layer, heat the olive oil on a medium heat. Reduce the heat and cook the onions with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add the garlic, saffron and spices. Stir to combine well.
  2. Add the chicken pieces and the stock or water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes (adding more stock or water if it looks as if the stew is drying out)
  3. Add the lemon juice, lemon peel, chopped herbs and rinsed olives. Simmer uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the sauce has thickened. If there is too much liquid, lift out the chicken pieces and keep them on one side while you reduce the sauce further, then return the chicken to the pan and heat through.
  4. Check the seasoning (you may not need any more salt). 
  5. Present the chicken on a serving dish with the olives and lemon peel on top of the meat and sprinkle a little of the remaining chopped herbs. Serve with couscous, rice or noodles.

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