Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Olives and Lemon (Djej Emshmel)
This cornerstone of Moroccan cuisine, heady with spices, briny with olives, and bright with preserved lemon, isn’t necessarily “exotic.” It just requires the strategic blending of ingredients already in the cupboard.
Why This Recipe Works
For our Moroccan chicken tagine recipe, we focused on the elements that give the dish its Moroccan character: spices, olives, and lemon. We experimented with a broad range of spices until we landed on a blend that was short on ingredients but long on flavor. Cumin, ginger, and cinnamon added depth and warmth, cayenne offered up some heat, coriander echoed the lemon’s citrusy notes, and paprika brought a smokiness and deep color. Moroccan green olives being too hard to find and most other types being too mild, we sampled all sort of olives, until we came across Greek green olives, which had the assertiveness we were looking for. Traditionally, Moroccan preserved lemons are used to flavor the tagine recipe, but since they are sold only in specialty stores, we were determined to make fresh lemons work. We found that cooking lemon zest strips with the onion and spices imitated the low, deep notes of preserved lemons, and stirring in grated lemon zest and lemon juice at the end brought a welcome brightness.