What’s cooking today: Chicken, lemon & green olive tajine

What’s cooking today: Chicken, lemon & green olive tajine
Tony Jackman’s chicken, lemon and green olive tagine, with couscous, served in bowls by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Fresh lemons are as good as salt-preserved ones in a tagine, and are a great way to use up some of those leftover lemons you’ve been wondering what to do with.

Oh dear. While writing the recipe below I was typing “toss to coat”, when adding the chicken pieces to the onions. OtterCarrot (my name for autocorrect) had other ideas, however, and threw up “toss to the cat” instead.

Not that the cat would like the other things that go into the pot. Lemons and green olives are a magic pairing (for humans), and a third element of raisins brings a tinge of sweetness to balance the spices.

Start this dish early in the day if you’re planning to make it for supper. First make a spice rub, apply it to chicken portions and leave it to chill out in the fridge until an hour before you’re ready to start the tagine.

I make my own ras-el-hanout, the North African spice mix, on occasion. The ingredients are all listed in my recipe for lamb shank and date tagine, and all you have to do is mix them together. The spices are cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, chilli, clove, allspice, black pepper and salt. That lamb shank recipe is a winner, by the way; do try it if you haven’t already.


(Serves 4)

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

8 chicken pieces, bone in (remove skins if you prefer)

1 lemon, sliced very thinly

½ cup pitted green olives

⅓ cup pitted raisins

300 ml chicken stock

50 ml tomato paste

1 Tbsp ras-el-hanout

Coarse sea/kosher salt to taste

Chopped coriander, for garnish

For the rub:

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp finely ground black pepper


Mix the rub ingredients together, rub it into the flesh and skin of cleaned and dried chicken portions, and refrigerate for several hours. Remove from the fridge an hour before you start cooking.

Preheat the oven to 180℃. Chop the onion and garlic and braise them in olive oil in the tagine base, until softened and taking on a little colour.

Add the chicken pieces, toss to coat, and cook on both sides for a few minutes. Add the lemon, olives, raisins, stock, tomato paste, ras-el-hanout and salt, put the conical lid on and put it in the oven to cook for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes.

Serve with couscous, garnished with chopped coriander. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.


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