140 – Tajine of Chicken with Preserved Lemons

In 1946, the Pasha of Marrakesh granted Helen Sebillon-Larochette, and her daughter, Suzy, the right to open La Maison Arabe, the first restaurant open to foreigners in the medina (old quarter of the city), and provided a servant from his nearby palace to teach them the intricacies of Moroccan Cuisine.
Famous people who used to come here included Winston Churchill, Charles De Gaulle, and Jackie Kennedy!
When I heard about this place, I had to come visit and learn some authentic Moroccan recipes from their cooking school.
So if you want to travel in time and discover the enchanted world of Moroccan cuisine and architecture, then this place is for you!


  • 400 grams of chicken (cut into chunks)
  • ½ red onion (finely chopped)
  • ½ preserved lemon
  • 10 purple or green olives
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smen / ghee (clarified butter)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • A pinch saffron threads


1- cut the half preserved lemon into quarters and separate the flesh from the skin. Keep the skin whole as we are going to use it later on for decoration.
2- Remove the pulp from the white skin. Discard the skin because it’s too hard and wont cook.
3- Finely chop the preserved lemon pulp
4- peel and finely chop the garlic cloves.
5- Finely chop the cilantro and parsley. Place the preserved lemon pulp, garlic, parsley and cilantro in a tagine.
6- Add the spices, olive oil, vegetable oil, and water. Mix well.
7- Add the clarified butter. Mix well.

Cooking the Chicken:
1- Place the chicken in the tagine and stab it with a knife so that the meat absorbs the spices.
2- Place the chopped onion underneath the chicken.
3- Cover the tagine and let it cook on medium heat until the chicken is done (around 45 minutes). Check on the tagine from time to time and add water if necessary; there should always be enough sauce in the bottom of the tagine for the meat not to burn.

Final Steps:
1- Few minutes before the chicken is done, add purple or green olives to the tagine.
2- Slice the preserved lemon skin like a leaf and add it to the tagine.