This Moroccan Chicken Tagine flavoured with warm and aromatic spices and cooked with preserved lemons and sweet butternut squash is a huge crowd pleaser due to its delicious and exotic taste.
Serve it with our Winter Salad with Red Cabbage, Kale and Pomegranate. The sweet and zingy pomegranate molasses dressing will compliment and highlight the flavours of this chicken tagine.
I’ve been slightly obsessed with North African flavours of ras el hanout, which first appeared on my blog six years ago in the form of Roasted Vegetables and Couscous Bowl with Moroccan-spiced Chicken.
I had no idea how to use it, so I invented that recipe which turned out surprisingly well. Since then I’ve been doing a lot of research and even attended a cooking class that taught me how to use it properly. This resulted in Middle Eastern Salad Bowl.
This recipe for Chicken Tagine takes it a step further and is inspired by traditional Moroccan tagine. However it doesn’t use ras el hanout spice. Instead it calls for a variety of everyday spices like cinnamon, paprika and turmeric most modern cooks will have in their pantries.
Moroccan Chicken Tagine
Chicken Tagine is a slow cooked chicken dish. It is cooked in a cone-shaped pot called tagine traditional to Morocco and which gives the dish its name.
It’s not necessary to buy the pot to achieve great flavours. A combination of aromatic spices, chicken and vegetables cooked in a casserole type dish in an oven will produce similar results.
This dish was created by generations of home cooks and not restaurant chefs, so it’s easy to prepare. What makes it even more special is the addition of preserved lemons. They give this dish an unforgettable fragrance and a unique delicious taste.
If you are worried about being able to find preserved lemons, don’t be! They usually come in jars and are most likely stocked in the ethnic aisle of your supermarket. Or you can always try Amazon or other online retailers.
Traditionally Moroccan Chicken Tagine is made with chicken parts but I know how much you love chicken breasts. I adjusted the cooking times for chicken breasts.
I also added some butternut squash that was on hand. You can successfully use regular or sweet potatoes instead, which would make this into a great one-pot dinner!
Recipe tips and notes
- I used chicken breasts for convenience but chicken thighs will work wonderfully here.
- The addition of butternut squash is not really typical for this recipe but it was in season. It also gave the sweetness the traditional dried apricots provide. Feel free to omit them or replace with a handful of dried apricots.
- Now let’s talk about preserved lemons. They deliver quite a zing as well as a beautiful aroma to the dish. Normally I would say they can be replaced with regular lemons but in this case I urge you to track them down. They are well worth it. They can be added to salad dressing for a pop of flavour or used in any recipe which calls for lemons.
- Serve this aromatic and hearty dish with couscous or rice.
This recipe is delicious with plain couscous or rice although I went a bit fancier with a combination of basmati rice and wild rice. I then fried it with some onion and 1 tablespoon of ras el hanout and chopped parsley.
Traditionally dried apricots would be added to Moroccan rice but I left them out (kids are not fans!) and sprinkled with some Pomegranate seeds instead. There were no leftovers.
This Fattoush salad made of crunchy cucumbers, ripe tomatoes a toasted pita bread will also be a delicious addition.
Storage and leftovers
Reheat on the stovetop set to medium-low. Add a splash of water or stock to your pan to keep the sauce loose. Cover the pan with a lid so it doesn’t dry out and heat for 15 minutes or until the meat is hot in the middle.
Leftovers can be frozen for up to three months in an airtight container.
More chicken breast recipes
Moroccan Chicken Tagine
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1-2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp curry powder or curry paste
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp mustard powder or prepared mustard
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- salt to taste
- 1 cup/250 ml chicken stock
- 6-8 black olives
- 4 slices of preserved lemons
- 2 cups/700g butternut squash cubed (I used frozen)
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
- Brown salted chicken breasts in 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large, deep pan for approximately 5 minutes over medium heat on each side. They will not be cooked all the way through. Remove to a separate plate and set aside.
- To the same pan add onions and saute for 5 minutes, then add garlic and cook for a minute longer, then add all the spices, return the chicken to the pan, add chicken stock, preserved lemons, olives and butternut squash, lightly stir and bring to a boil.
- Then cover it with a lid and cook in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then uncover and cook for 15 minutes longer. Do not overcook as chicken breasts will become dry.
- Serve with rice or couscous.